BLUE JACKETS (15-14-7) at PREDATORS (15-14-8)
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Radio: Preds Radio Network Flagship - 102.5-FM The Game Radio Network; Network Affiliates
56-11-27 LINE CLICKING
Taylor Beck recorded his second-career multi-point outing (2a) on Tuesday, giving him six points (2g-4a) in his last six games. He has played eight career NHL games since joining the team on March 19. Beck has fired at least three shots on goal in six of his eight games this season, and has recorded an even or better rating in seven of eight outings.
David Legwand moved into a tie for Nashville’s point lead (10g-11a-21pts) with his third multi-point outing (1g-1a) his last in four games (3g-3a in that span). He has posted 14 points (7g-7a) in his last 14 games. Legwand’s third period goal against Colorado, which served as the game-winner, was his tenth of the season. He has now hit double-digits goals in seven straight campaigns. Six of his 10 goals this season have come in the final period, a trend that has carried over from 2011-12, where 14 of his 19 goals came in the third period or overtime. Nashville’s all-time leading scorer is just two goals shy of 200 for his career. The Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich., native ranks sixth in goals – surpassing Hall-of-Famer Mark Howe on Tuesday – and seventh in points among Michigan-born players.
Patric Hornqvist also posted a multi-point effort (1g-1a) on Tuesday night, including his team-leading fourth power-play goal of the year to open the scoring for Nashville. It was Hornqvist’s third multiple point effort this season, giving the Sollentuna, Sweden native four points (1g-3a) in five games since returning from an upper-body injury on March 25.
WEBER’S NORRIS PUSH
Shea Weber led all Predators skaters for the 29th time this season (26:49), put five shots on goal and picked up his team-leading 10th power-play point (3g-7a) with an assist in Tuesday’s win against Colorado as he continues to excel in multiple areas of the game.
• Weber has 20 points (7g-13a) in his last 24 games. He is tied for third among NHL defensemen in goals and tied for 10th in points (7g-14a-21pts). Weber also ranks among the Top 10 d-men in power-play goals (3).
• The back-to-back Norris Trophy runner-up ranks third in the NHL in total minutes played (961:21), and sixth in average ice time (25:58).
• Weber leads the team and is third among defensemen in shots (97).
• The Sicamous, B.C., native ranks among the Top 25 at the position in both hits (79) and blocked shots (73) – he’s the only blueliner to rank among the Top 25 in points, hits and blocked shots among d-men while averaging more than 25:00 per game.
• His next goal will tie him with Jason Arnott (107) for third on the franchise’s all-time list.
HOME ICE ADVANTAGE
After a road-heavy first 30 games, Nashville started a stretch of 12 home games out of its final 18 on March 21 against Calgary. The Predators have posted a 10-3-4 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 191 home victories, third 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 also sold out a 29 of their last 30 home games dating back to March 6, 2012 vs. L.A.
RINNE WITH ANOTHER STRONG OUTING
Pekka Rinne stopped 25-of-26 shots against Colorado on Tuesday, the 11th time this season he’s held the opposition to less than two goals. Rinne has allowed just four goals in Nashville’s past three games, stopping 86-of-90 shots in that span, good for a .956 save percentage and 1.29 goals-against average. Rinne has logged more ice time than any other player in the NHL this season (1,968:27), and also leads the League in shutouts (5). The Kempele, Finland native is also just nine wins away from Tomas Vokoun’s franchise record in the category (161).
GAUSTAD STRONG ON THE DOT
Just one game after playing a career-high 24:19, Paul Gaustad logged more than 20 minutes for the second consecutive game against Colorado, in addition to scoring his second goal of the season and winning 19-of-24 face-offs (79 percent). Gaustad ranks third in the League in face-off efficiency (59.8 percent), and has ranked among the Top 10 in the category in each of the last three seasons.
LAST TIME OUT: COLORADO 1 at NASHVILLE 3
• Nashville outshot Colorado 38-26. It was the third time in four games Nashville has put more than 30 shots on goals (average of 34.25 over that span). The 38 shots tied a season high, as did the 18 shots in the third period. The Predators have outshot the opposition in seven of the last eight games, and are allowing an average of 26.9 shots against this season, fifth fewest in the League.
• Nashville improved to 3-3-1 in the second game of back to backs.
• The Predators power-play unit went one-for-three. The team has scored 14 of its 21 power-play goals on home ice this season, capitalizing on 26.4 percent of their chances at Bridgestone Arena (the third best home mark in the NHL).
• Nashville improved to 6-2-5 when tied after two periods, and 4-14-3 when allowing the first goal.
• It was the ninth time in 2012-13 that the Predators have kept the opponent off the scoreboard through 40 minutes.
• Nashville was shorthanded twice, finishing a perfect two-for-two on the penalty kill. Nashville ranks among the Top 10 in the League in both fewest times shorthanded (116) and fewest average penalty minutes (10.5).
• Nashville scored three third-period goals and has found the back of the net in the third frame in 14 of the last 16 games, amassing 21 goals in that span.
• Kevin Klein notched his fifth point (1g-4a) in the last seven games with an assist. He blocked a game-high four shots, and ranks among the League’s Top 25 in the category (69).
• Roman Josi tied a career high with six shots on goal to lead all skaters. He has nine points (2g-7a) in the last 10 games. He has led the team in ice time in the eight games that his defensive partner Shea Weber has not, and his average ice time is up nearly 5:00 from his rookie season (from 18:23 to 23:18).
• Rich Clune picked up his 11th major of the season, tied for second in the NHL. He also ranks among the League’s Top 20 in hits (107), and has seven points (3g-4a) in his last 18 games after posting three points (1g-2a) in his first 32 NHL contests in 2009-10 with Los Angeles (14gp) and from Jan. 21-Feb. 23, 2013 with Nashville (18gp).
• Victor Bartley played a career-high 22:17.
• Martin Erat has eight points (1g-7a) in his last seven games. He has notched a team-high 15 of his 21 points this season on home ice.
• Gabriel Bourque – who missed Tuesday’s game and is questionable for Thursday’s game – has eight points (5g-3a) in his last 11 games, and seven goals in his last 15 games. Bourque leads the team in goals (11), with seven coming on the road.
• Mike Fisher – who has missed the past three games with an upper-body injury and is questionable for tonight – had an eight-game point streak (5g-4a-9pts), his longest streak as a Predator, and just one game shy of tying his career best (set with the Ottawa Senators in 2007-08) prior to being sidelined.
• Bobby Butler has four assists/points in his last five games he’s dressed for after being held scoreless in his first five games in a Preds sweater.
• Nashville has gone to overtime/a shootout 13 times this season, posting a 5-8 record in games that go beyond 60 minutes. Its 13 overtime/shootout games are second in the League behind only Columbus (14). The Preds are 3-2 in the five-minute, four-on-four session, and 2-6 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 13th time in 2011-12 until game No. 61 on Feb. 23, 2012 vs. St. Louis.
TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. COLUMBUS
The Nashville Predators and Columbus Blue Jackets meet for the third time in the last 17 days on Thursday night at Bridgestone Arena with one more game between the soon-to-be ex-Central Division rivals on the final day of the season – April 27 at Nationwide Arena. Last time these teams met on March 23 in Nashville, Taylor Beck scored his first career goal and added an assist to earn first star honors in a 5-2 victory at Bridgestone Arena. Gabriel Bourque, Bobby Butler and Martin Erat all pitched in two assists in the victory, while Shea Weber, David Legwand, Matt Halischuk and Roman Josi also found the back of the net. Two of the goals (Weber and Josi’s goals) were power-play markers, as the Preds finished two-for-two with the man advantage. The victory extended Nashville’s home point streak against Columbus to 22 games dating back to Nov. 18, 2006. The Predators are 20-0-2 in that span.
The Blue Jackets claimed the first two meetings of the season – on March 19 in Columbus by a 4-3 score and on Opening Night (Jan. 19) in a shootout, 3-2. The March 19 game saw a Nashville rally come up short as Chris Mueller scored his first career goal and Mike Fisher notched an extra-attacker mark, both in the final 2:01 of regulation. On Jan. 19, 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, and Ryan Ellis notched a power-play goal late in the first period.
Weber has 33 points (9g-24a) in 39 career games against Columbus, his highest total against any team… Erat has 53 points (16g-37a) in 57 career games against Columbus, the second-highest point total by a Predator against a single team in franchise history… David Legwand has 20 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 10 points (8g-2a) in 11 games against the Blue Jackets since joining the Preds… Sergei Kostitsyn has amassed 12 points (5g-7a) in 16 career games against Columbus… Pekka Rinne is 15-5-2 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
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.
Shea Weber – Career-high four points (1g-3a) on Oct. 18, 2008 vs. Columbus.
Brandon Yip – Made his NHL debut Dec. 19, 2009 vs. Columbus.
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