PREDATORS (11-12-6) AT BLUE JACKETS (11-12-6)
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Radio: Preds Radio Network Flagship - 102.5-FM The Game Radio Network; Network Affiliates
THE CAPTAIN STAYS STRONG
Shea Weber tallied his second power-play goal of the year on Sunday night in Edmonton, giving the Predators captain 15 points (5g-10a) in his last 16 games, including eight points (2g-6a) in his last seven games. The Sicamous, B.C., native also led the team in ice time for the 23rd time this season (25:19), and ranks third in the NHL in total minutes played (743:04). Weber also ranks among the League’s Top Five defensemen in shots (76), and among the Top 25 blueliners in hits (61) and blocked shots (56).
SUCCESS AGAINST THE CENTRAL
Though Nashville has started the 2012-13 season with a 2-3-2 record against divisional opponents, there will be plenty of opportunities to improve on that mark as this season’s 48-game schedule configuration calls for the Predators to play two Central Division opponents five times (Columbus and Chicago), two Central Division opponents four times (Detroit and St. Louis), and all other Western Conference teams three times each. A season ago, the Preds had the second-best intra-conference record, going 40-19-5 against the West versus 8-7-3 against the Eastern Conference. More importantly, Nashville posted a 16-5-3 record (.729) against the Central Division, which along with the Atlantic, became the first two divisions to have four teams reach the 100-point plateau since the NHL went to its current format for the 1993-94 season. That was good for the third-best intra-divisional winning percentage behind Boston (19-4-1, .813) and Vancouver (18-5-1, .771), each of whom were the lone 100-point teams in the Northeast and Northwest Divisions, respectively.
SCORING BY COMMITTEE
- With his fourth-career multi-point (1g-1a) game on Sunday night, Roman Josi has points (1g-3a) in back-to-back games for the first time this season after recording two assists last Friday in Calgary. He also played 23:20, and has led the team in ice time in the six games that Weber has not. Josi’s 2012-13 average ice time is up by more than four minutes from his rookie season (from 18:23 to 22:33).
- With points in three consecutive games (2g-1a), Mike Fisher is riding his longest points streak of the season.
- Matt Halischuk has registered points/assists (1g-3a) in three of his last four outings since returning from a conditioning stint with the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals last Monday.
- David Legwand has been a point-per-game player after posting six points (3g-3a) in his last six games. Prior to the current streak, he had registered two points (1g-1a) in his previous 10 outings.
- Craig Smith has three points (3a) in four games after tallying an assist on Shea Weber’s power-play goal in Edmonton. He has eight points (3g-5a) in his last 14 after recording one point/assist in his first 15 games of 2012-13.
- Nick Spaling has recorded three points (2g-1a) in Nashville’s last four games. Four of Spaling’s five goals this season have come on the road.
POWER PLAY IS CLICKING
Nashville went one-for-four on the power play on Sunday in Edmonton, and is now 7-for-20 (35 percent) in its last six games after going 1-for-14 in the six games prior. The recent hot stretch has elevated the power play into the top half of the NHL.
LAST TIME OUT: Nashville 2 at Edmonton 3
- Nashville found the back of the net in the second and third periods, meaning it has scored in 11 of its last 13 regulation frames played.
- Craig Smith recorded a season-high 19:35 of ice time – nearly two minutes more than his previous high of 17:55 on Feb. 23 vs. Detroit.
- The Predators were shorthanded twice. They rank among the League’s Top 10 in fewest times shorthanded (95), and have posted the second-fewest penalty minutes per game in the League this season (10.6). The Preds led the League in the category in 2011-12 (8.4) and 2009-10 (8.7), and ranked second in 2010-11 (8.8).
- Nashville outshot Edmonton 31-21 and was lead by Martin Erat with four shots on goal. It was the 10th time Nashville has outshot its opponent – it is 3-5-2 in those games.
- The Predators have gone to overtime or a shootout in 11 of their first 29 games in 2012-13, tied for the highest total in the League. They hold a 5-6 record in contests that go beyond 60 minutes, having posted a 3-1 record in the five-minute, four-on-four session, and 2-5 mark in shootouts. Last season, Nashville needed extra time on 16 occasions in 82 games, tied for the third fewest in the NHL. The Preds didn’t go beyond 60 minutes for the 11th time in 2011-12 until game No. 54 on Feb. 7, 2012 vs. Vancouver.
- The Predators are currently without their leading point getter in 2012-13 (Colin Wilson, upper body), their leading goal scorer from two of the past three seasons (Patric Hornqvist, upper body), the League’s third-best face-off man (Paul Gaustad, upper body), and the team’s lone Stanley Cup winner and most experienced member (Hal Gill, lower body).
TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. COLUMBUS
The Nashville Predators visit Columbus for the first time this season to close out a five-game road trip on Tuesday night. These teams will play again in Nashville on Saturday, then 12 days later at Bridgestone Arena. The first meeting of the Preds and Blue Jackets was both teams’ first contest of the 2012-13 campaign on Jan. 19. Martin Erat scored just 39 seconds into the contest, tying the record for fastest goal to start a season originally set by J-P Dumont in the 2006-07 season opener against Chicago. Ryan Ellis also notched a power-play goal late in the first period, but a shootout was required to determine a winner for the ninth time between Columbus and Nashville. Though the Preds fell 3-2, they hold a 6-3 record in those nine shootout games. The shootout loss marked the 21st consecutive game dating back to Nov. 18, 2006 that the Preds have earned a point on home ice against the Blue Jackets; they are 19-0-2 in that span
At Nationwide Arena a season ago, the Predators posted a 3-0-0 record, winning on opening night by a 3-1 score, on Dec. 8 when they overcame two-goal deficits twice, the last coming when they scored two extra-attacker goals in the final 1:36 of regulation to force overtime – where the Preds topped the Jackets 4-3 on a Patric Hornqvist goal, and on Jan. 19, 2012 courtesy of a Pekka Rinne 38-save shutout.
Shea Weber has more career points against Columbus than any other team, posting 30 (8g-22a) in 37 games, including a career-high four points (1g-3a) on Oct. 18, 2008… Erat has 51 points (16g-35a) in 55 career games against Columbus, the second-highest point total by a Predator against a single team in franchise history… David Legwand has 19 goals against Columbus, tied with his total against Chicago for the highest by a player against a single team in club history… Mike Fisher has eight points (6g-2a) in nine games against the Blue Jackets since joining the Preds… Pekka Rinne is 14-4-2 with a pair of shutouts against Columbus all-time, while Chris Mason has a 16-4-2 career record with a 2.05 goals-against average and a .931 save percentage.
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS vs. COLUMBUS
Jonathon Blum – Made his NHL debut at Columbus on Feb. 22, 2011 and scored his first goal against the Blue Jackets on Feb. 27, 2011.
Scott Hannan – Career-high six shots on goal on Feb. 12, 2003 at Columbus.
David Legwand – Career-high nine shots on goal on Nov. 23, 2005 at Columbus.
Craig Smith – Made his NHL debut and scored his first career goal at Columbus on Oct. 7, 2011.
Brandon Yip – Made his NHL debut Dec. 19, 2009 vs. Columbus.
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