TONIGHT’S STORYLINES vs. ANAHEIM
Tonight marks the first of three meetings between the Predators and Ducks – they will meet again on Feb. 16 in Nashville and on Feb. 27 at the Honda Center. A season ago, Nashville claimed its first season sweep of Anaheim and extended its winning streak over the Ducks to six games dating back to Jan. 5, 2011.
To recap the 2011-12 season series: On Oct. 29, 2011, Pekka Rinne stopped all 20 shots he faced for his 100th career victory and 22nd career shutout, setting a franchise record for career shutouts, in a 3-0 win at Bridgestone Arena. On Nov. 9, 2011, Craig Smith notched his first career two-goal game and Martin Erat scored a shorthanded penalty shot goal in a 4-2 win at Honda Center. On Dec. 10, 2011, Roman Josi scored his first career goal in a 3-2 win at Bridgestone Arena, and on March 18, 2012, Nashville scored three third-period goals to complete the season sweep with a 3-1 win at the Honda Center.
Patric Hornqvist led the Predators in scoring against the Ducks last season with five points (2g-3a) in four games. In 15 career games against the Ducks, Hornqvist has 14 points (6g-8a). Martin Erat (2g-2a, 4gp) and Colin Wilson (1g-3a, 3gp) followed close behind with four points each… Paul Gaustad has five points (1g-4a) in seven career games against Anaheim, while Sergei Kostitsyn has five points (3g-2a) in eight career games… The Ducks are one of two teams (along with St. Louis) that Rinne has played at least 10 games against and has a goals-against average of less than 2.00. In 13 games, he has a 9-2-2 record with a 1.95 goals-against average and a .932 save percentage… Jonathon Blum was the first California-born and raised player to be selected in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft. The Rancho Santa Margarita native grew up going to Ducks games… The Predators claimed Brian McGrattan on waivers from Anaheim on Oct. 11, 2011.
A FRANCHISE RECORD ROAD TRIP
Tonight marks the third stop of a franchise record tying seven-game road swing; the Predators also played seven straight on the road from Oct. 30-Nov. 12, 2002. The trip will last 15 days, and see the team go to Minnesota, St. Louis, Anaheim, Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Jose, then back to St. Louis to wrap things up on Feb. 5. Nashville’s next game in the Music City will be Feb. 7 against the reigning Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings.
LAST TIME OUT: Nashville 0, St. Louis 3 at Scottrade Center
The Predators were shutout in the regular season for the first time since March 27, 2012, when they fell by the same score in St. Louis… Mike Fisher and David Legwand both went 9-for-16 in the faceoff circle (56 percent), while Nick Spaling when 6-for-12 (50 percent)… Scott Hannan notched three blocks on the night. He now ranks second in the League with 12 blocked shots on the season… Pekka Rinne faced a penalty shot for just the fourth time in his career. He has allowed two goals on those attempts… The Preds were held scoreless on the power play (0-4) for the first time this season… Nashville’s 13 shots on goal were its lowest shot for total since Oct. 17, 2011 (12 shots at Edmonton).
ERAT OUT IN FRONT
After pacing the club with a career-high 58 points (19g-39a) a season ago, Martin Erat is on a point-per-game pace and is tied for the team lead (2g-2a) this season for Nashville. He followed a two-point performance (2a) on Monday against the Blues by notching the game-winner on Tuesday in the Twin Cities. Erat also posted a goal in the Preds season opener last Saturday against Columbus. The Trebic, Czech Republic native ranks second on Nashville’s all-time goals and points list (161g-303a-464pts).
For the second season in a row, the Predators find themselves ranked among the League’s Top 10 clubs in power play efficiency. Through four games this season, Nashville has potted four goals on 14 man-advantage chances (28.6 percent) to rank ninth in the League. A season ago, Nashville led the League in power play efficiency after scoring 54 goals on 250 advantages (21.6 percent).
A MODEL OF CONSISTENCY
The Predators are the only team in the Western Conference to advance to the second round of the playoffs in each of the past two seasons.
The team is one of just five to reach the postseason in seven of the last eight seasons and one of three to post 40-plus wins in seven consecutive seasons.
The Preds enter this season with the third-most home victories since the start of the 2005-06 campaign (181), and the fifth-most overall (321).
Nashville has had four awards finalists each of the last two seasons. David Poile has been a finalist for the GM of the Year Award in each of the award’s three years of existence, while Pekka Rinne (Vezina) and Shea Weber (Norris) are back-to-back finalists.
BUILDING ON LAST SEASON’S MOMENTUM
Nashville finished the 2011-12 regular season ranked in the Top 10 of each of the following categories: points, goals for, goals against, power play and penalty kill. The Presidents’ Trophy-winning Vancouver Canucks were the only other team to do so.
The Preds posted the League’s fifth-highest point total (104) and tied with Vancouver and Philadelphia for third in regulation/overtime victories (43)
Nashville ranked eighth in goals per game (2.83) and tied for eighth in goals-against average (2.50) in 2011-12. Only Boston, Detroit and Vancouver ranked among the League’s Top 10 in both goals for and goals against.
The Predators were one of just three teams to rank in the League’s Top 10 in both power-play percentage (first) and penalty kill percentage (10th) during the 2011-12 campaign. Vancouver and Pittsburgh were the only other teams to rank in the Top 10 in both categories. Prior to 2011-12, Nashville had never ranked higher than 10th in power-play efficiency, while the PK finished in the Top 10 for the eighth time in the last 12 seasons. Nashville’s special teams finished a +15 in 2011-12, compared to +3 the season prior.
LOCKING UP THE CORE
An eventful summer of 2012 has the Predators’ top players locked up long term. Captain Shea Weber – arguably the League’s top defenseman and runner-up for the Norris Trophy each of the last two seasons – is under contract for the next 14 seasons, while goaltender Pekka Rinne – a back-to-back Vezina Trophy finalist – is locked down for the next seven seasons. Key core players like Colin Wilson, David Legwand, Martin Erat, Mike Fisher, Sergei Kostitsyn, Kevin Klein, Hal Gill and Paul Gaustad are all under contract for at least two more seasons.
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