COYOTES (13-15-4) at PREDATORS (14-13-6)
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Radio: Preds Radio Network Flagship - 102.5-FM The Game Radio Network; Network Affiliates
FISHER AND ERAT CLICKING
Nashville Predators forwards Mike Fisher and Martin Erat have sparked the Preds’ offense of late, with the two alternate captains having been in on 11 of Nashville’s 25 goals (44 percent) over the last seven games.
With an assist on Nashville’s first goal on Monday, Mike Fisher extended his point streak to seven games (5g-3a-8pts), his longest streak as a Predator, and just two games shy of tying his career best (set with the Ottawa Senators in 2007-08). The streak puts Fisher among the NHL’s Top Five goal scorers, and Top 10 point producers during the second half of March.
Erat notched a pair of assists to earn First Star honors against Edmonton, his third consecutive multi-point performance. He’s amassed seven points (1g-6a) in that span to take over the team points lead (4g-16a-20pts). Erat has notched a team-high 14 of his 20 points this season on home ice.
WEBER’S NORRIS PUSH
Though he was held off the scoresheet in Monday’s win against Edmonton, Predators captain and back-to-back Norris Trophy runner-up Shea Weber has amassed 18 points (6g-12a) in 20 games since the last time Phoenix and Nashville met on Feb. 14, moving him into the Top 15 in points among blueliners (6g-13a-19pts), into a tie for third in goals, and a tie for seventh in power-play goals (3). Weber has also fired the third-most shots among d-men (84), and ranks among the Top 30 at the position in both hits (65) and blocked shots (63) – only Weber and St. Louis’ Alex Pietrangelo rank among the Top 30 in points, hits and blocked shots among d-men while averaging more than 25 minutes per game. The Sicamous, B.C., native has led the team in ice time 26 times this season, and ranks third in the NHL in total minutes played (845:21).
JOSI PLAYING WELL ALONGSIDE WEBER
Weber’s defensive partner, Roman Josi, had a career-high five-game point streak snapped on Monday, but has posted eight points (2g-6a) in the last six games to move into the Top 25 point producers among defensemen. The Bern, Switzerland native has led the team in ice time in the seven games that Weber has not, and his average ice time is up nearly 4:30 from his rookie season (from 18:23 to 22:47).
HOME ICE ADVANTAGE
After a road-heavy first 30 games, Nashville started a stretch of 12 home games in its last 18 contests of 2012-13 on March 21 against Calgary. The Predators have posted a 9-2-4 record on Bridgestone Arena ice this season, and have been one of the League’s best teams on home ice since the beginning of the 2005-06 season, compiling 190 home victories, tied for second most in the NHL in that span. Nashville is the only team in the NHL to post at least 23 home victories in seven consecutive seasons.
The Preds have sold out a franchise-record 27 games dating back to March 6, 2012 vs. L.A. The team sold out the last eight games of 2011-12, all five 2012 playoff games, and the first 14 games of 2012-13 to bring the streak to 27.
POWER PLAY MOVES UP THE RANKS
The Predators power play has gone 10-for-29 in the last 10 games (34.5 percent) to rise to 11th in the power-play rankings (19.6 percent). The home power play has been even better, having scored in 10 of 15 home games, including a 7-for-18 clip (38.9 percent) the last six games at Bridgestone Arena. The home power play is ranked first in the League at 28.3 percent).
TROTZ PASSES REAY
Monday’s win was the 517th of Head Coach Barry Trotz’s career, moving him past former Chicago Blackhawks benchboss Billy Reay (1963-77) for third on the NHL’s wins with one franchise list. The New York Islanders’ Al Arbour (1973-94) is first on the list with 740 wins, while long time Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff (1997-2013) is second with 578. The Dauphin, Man., native also ranks 15th among all coaches in NHL victories, and is third behind Arbour (1,500) and Ruff (1,180) on the games coached with one team list, having been behind Nashville’s bench for all 1,099 games played.
LAST TIME OUT: Edmonton 2, Nashville 3
- Nashville won its third consecutive game for the second time this season. It won four straight from Jan. 31 to Feb. 7.
- The Predators have scored at least three goals in seven of their last eight games, including 13 in their last three games.
- With both teams even at 26 shots apiece, the Predators have either bested or equaled their opponents in five straight games, winning the aggregate shot battle 139-123 in those contests. The Predators are tied for fifth in fewest shots allowed per game (26.5).
- Nashville improved to 3-13-1 on the season when allowing the first goal – having now won two in a row in that situation (last on March 21 vs. Calgary). The Predators are now 8-0-1 when leading after two periods.
- The Predators were held without a third-period goal for the first time in 12 games.
- Sergei Kostitsyn earned his fourth multi-point effort of 2012-13 with a goal and an assist. Kostitsyn’s goal was his first since February 18 at Colorado. Ten of Kostitsyn’s 13 points have been at Bridgestone Arena, and the Novopolotsk, Belarus native leads the team in plus/minus rating (+9).
- Goaltender Pekka Rinne stopped 24 of 26 shots to record his 12th win of the season. On home ice, Rinne has posted a 9-2-4 record with four shutouts, a 1.69 goals-against average and a .934 save percentage.
- Kevin Klein scored his second goal of the season, and has three points (1g-2a) in his last three games.
- Chris Mueller’s second goal of the season served as the game-winner. He now has three points (2g-1a) in five games since his recall on March 13.
- Brandon Yip notched an assist on the game winner, giving him points (1g-2a) in three of his last four games. Victor Bartley was also in on Mueller’s goal, giving him a pair of helpers in the last three games.
- Patric Hornqvist returned to the lineup after missing seven games with an upper-body injury. During the course of his career, Thursday has been his most productive day of the week. He has 48 points (27g-21a) and 11 of his 27 career power-play goals in 58 Thursday games.
- Nick Spaling won a season-high 12 face-offs on 16 draws taken (75 percent).
- Every Nashville player logged more than 10 minutes, led by Shea Weber’s 27:43 – his highest total in 22 games (Feb. 7 vs. Los Angeles, 30:00).
PLAYER QUICK HITS
- Bobby Butler has four assists/points in his last four games he’s dressed after being held scoreless in his first five games in a Preds sweater.
- David Legwand has eight points (4g-4a) in his last 10 games. Prior to the current stretch, he had registered just two points (1g-1a) in his previous 10 outings.
- Matt Halischuk was a scratch on Monday, but has five points (2g-3a) in seven games since returning from a Conditioning Assignment with Milwaukee (AHL).
- Rich Clune ranks among the League’s Top 20 in hits (91). He has six points (2g-4a) in his last 13 games after posting three points (1g-2a) in his first 32 NHL contests.
- Gabriel Bourque has six points (4g-2a) in his last eight games. He leads the team in goals (10), with six of them coming in the last 12 games. He’s tied for the team lead in power-play goals, has the team's lone shorthanded goal of the season, and is one of two Preds with multiple game-winning goals in 2012-13 (2).
TONIGHT’S STORYLINES vs. PHOENIX
The Nashville Predators and Phoenix Coyotes wrap up their three-game 2012-13 season series on Thursday at Bridgestone Arena with both teams having won a home game to this point. Most recently, on Valentine’s Day 2013, Pekka Rinne recorded his second consecutive shutout (he blanked San Jose two days earlier), and Gabriel Bourque, Nick Spaling and Mike Fisher provided the offense in a 3-0 victory. The Coyotes took the first meeting of the season, 4-0, on Jan. 28 in the desert.
The home team winning bucks a recent trend when these teams meet – the previous six matchups – from Jan. 18, 2011 to March 12, 2012 – were won by the visitors. Nashville is 10-4-1 in its last 15 home games against Phoenix.
Rinne’s shutout the last time these teams met was his fifth against the Coyotes – more than he has against any other team. For his career, Rinne is 9-6-1 with a 2.04 goals-against average, .929 save percentage in 16 career games against Phoenix… Martin Erat had a pair of assists in the Feb. 14 game, giving him six points (1g-5a) in his last six games against Phoenix. He leads Nashville all-time with 28 points (10g-18a) in 37 games vs. the Coyotes… Mike Fisher is averaging nearly a point per game against Phoenix during his career with 13 points (6g-7a) in 14 games…Patric Hornqvist has 10 points (6g-4a) in 12 career contests vs. Phoenix.
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