PREDATORS (18-18-2) at PANTHERS (15-20-6)
TV: FOX Sports Tennessee (Dish: 446/HD: 9516; Direct TV: 644/HD: 644-1 ; Comcast Nashville 1675; Comcast Chattanooga/Cleveland/Knoxville 401; Comcast Memphis 830; Charter Nashville 33/810; AT&T Nashville 724/1724)
Radio: Preds Radio Network Flagship - 102.5-FM The Game Radio Network; Network Affiliates
STORYLINES VS. FLORIDA
Saturday night’s matchup between the Nashville Predators and Florida Panthers is the 20th all-time meeting between the clubs dating back to Oct. 10, 1998, when the Predators played their inaugural game at Bridgestone Arena. The Preds are 9-7-(3)-0 in the previous 19 games, and have claimed six-of-eight games since the start of the 2007-08 campaign. In Sunrise, the Preds are 3-5-(1)-0 all-time.
In the last meeting between the Preds and Panthers on Oct. 15, it was a back-and-forth affair through the first 40 minutes on play on goals from Shea Weber, Jonathan Huberdeau, Mike Fisher and Marcel Goc. Nashville would jump out to the lead on back-to-back goals from Craig Smith and Patric Hornqvist early in the third, before Matt Gilroy cut the final margin to 4-3.
Nashville last visited the Sunshine State on March 3, 2012, as Pekka Rinne made 39 saves in the Preds 3-1 victory over Florida, tying Tomas Vokoun for the franchise record for victories in a season with 36. Mike Fisher recorded the game winner, and David Legwand notched a third-period insurance marker for the Preds.
Matt Cullen has faced the Panthers more than any other Predator, posting 27 points (11g-16a) in 42 career games. Cullen played two seasons with the Panthers from 2002-04, recording 31 points (12g-19a) in 86 games… David Legwand has 13 points (5g-8a) in 13 career games again Florida… Mike Fisher has faced Florida 34 times in his career, posting 27 points (14g-13a) in those contests.
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS VS. FLORIDA
• Matt Cullen recorded his first career goal on Jan. 21, 1998 vs. Florida (Kevin Weekes).
• Mike Fisher last tied his career-high nine shots on goal against the Panthers on Dec. 8, 2008.
• Paul Gaustad played his first game in a Preds sweater against the Panthers on March 3, 2012.
With two-points (2a) on Thursday night in Boston, Mike Fisher continues to have the hot hand for Nashville, as the veteran center has posted eight points (3g-5a) in his last three games.
• It is the most point-heavy streak of Fisher’s career since Jan. 22-29, 2008, when he posted seven points (2g-5a) in three games. It marks the fifth time in franchise history that a player has recorded eight-or-more points in three consecutive games. Steve Sullivan (5g-5a) and Scott Walker (2g-8a) notched a club-record 10 points in the same three games from Feb. 18-21, 2004, while Kimmo Timonen (1g-7a, Dec. 12-20, 2001) and Sebastien Bordeleau (2g-6a, March 7-12, 1999) have also attained the feat.
• His goal on Monday against Detroit moved him into second place on the team (10), just one behind Craig Smith.
• The Peterborough, Ont., native leads all Preds forwards in ice time (18:58) – more than two minutes higher than the next closest forward (David Legwand, 16:35).
• He also leads club forwards in blocked shots (35) and ranks third in hits (67).
THE CAPTAIN STAYS SOLID
Shea Weber posted a goal and an assist on Thursday night in Boston, giving Nashville’s captain 12 points (3g-9a) in his last 12 games to rank among the League’s Top 15 in defensive scoring.
• Weber is second in team scoring (10g-14a-24pts).
• Nashville’s captain is tied with Erik Karlsson (OTT) for the League’s defensive goal-scoring lead (10). Half of Weber’s 10 goals have come in the first period. The Preds are 7-1-2 when their captain finds the back of the net.
• The Sicamous, B.C., native’s 14 power-play points (7g-7a) are good for fifth among League defensemen (tie), while his seven power-play goals pace all blueliners.
• Weber is averaging just under 31 minutes over his last four games. Nashville’s captain is fourth in the NHL in average time on ice this season (26:49) and has played past the half-hour mark on five occasions.
• Weber leads the team and ranks 10th in the League in blocked shots (89), in addition to ranking second on the team in hits (89).
• His assist on Thursday leaves him three helpers shy of 200 for his career and three away from fourth place on the franchise’s all-time list.
PLAYER QUICK HITS
• Paul Gaustad has won 400-of-677 faceoffs (59.1 percent), to rank second the League to in the category (minimum 600 draws). Gaustad is just one point shy of 200 points for his career.
• Patric Hornqvist has five points (1g-4a) in his last six games after tallying an assist on Shea Weber’s third-period goal in Boston. He’s also riding a three-game assist streak, tying a career high. The Sollentuna, Sweden native is now one goal shy of moving into a tie for seventh on the club’s all-time goal-scoring list. Nashville is now 7-1-0 when Hornqvist scores a goal.
• Seth Jones has four points (4a) in his last three games to move into a tie for 14th among first-year players in points (3g-12a-15pts). The Plano, Texas native ranks second in time on ice (20:56), fourth in blocked shots (60), sixth in assists and power-play points (6), and eighth in power-play goals (2) among rookies.
• Roman Josi has seven points (3g-4a) in his last 12 games. The Bern, Switzerland native has led the team in ice time in six of the last 12 games to rank second on the team and eighth among the League defensemen in the category (25:42).
• David Legwand leads the team with 25 points (6g-19a) in 41 games. Fifteen (5g-10a) of Legwand’s 25 points have come away from the Music City.
• With seven points (5g-2a) in his last seven games, and 15 points (8g-7a) in his last 19 outings, Craig Smith has moved into first in goals and third in team scoring (11g-13a-23pts). The Madison, Wis., native owns three of Nashville’s seven two-goal performances this season. Three of Smith’s last seven goals have come on the power play. Nashville is 6-2-0 when Smith scores.
• Colin Wilson has five points (2g-3a) in his last four games as he continues to climb the Preds point-scoring leaderboard (7g-13a-20pts). With his game winner on Monday night against Detroit, Wilson now has five points (2g-3a) on game-winning goals this season.
TEAM QUICK HITS
• Nashville is now 5-3-2 against the Atlantic Division.
• Eight of Nashville’s 18 wins this season have come by one goal – the team is 8-0-5 in one-goal games.
• The Predators are 15-1-3 when they score first (.789), and are 14-0-1 when leading after the first period (.933, second in the League).
• Nashville’s road penalty kill ranks among the League’s best (sixth; 85.7 percent).
• The Preds have not allowed a shorthanded goal since March 21, 2013, when Calgary scored two shorthanded goals – a span of 55 games. Nashville is the only team in the League not to have allowed a shorthanded goal this season.
• Nashville leads the League in team face-off win percentage this season (54.1 percent). The Preds have been better than 50 percent in the face-off circle in 33 of their 41 games.
POWER PLAY STAYS HOT
Ten of Nashville’s last 26 goals have come on the man advantage, including power-play tallies in eight of the team’s last 10 games. The Preds power play remains one of the League’s most potent (eighth, 20.8 percent), while Nashville’s home power play ranks among the League’s Top Five (fifth, 24.2 percent) after posting a man-advantage goal in seven consecutive games at Bridgestone Arena (nine for 26). The Preds are now 15-3-2 when they score a power-play goal. Shea Weber leads the team with 14 points (7g-7a) on the man advantage this season.
LAST TIME OUT: Nashville 2, Boston 3 (OT) at TD Garden
• Viktor Stalberg opened the scoring for Nashville with his fifth goal of the season at 18:04 of the second period.
• Nashville posted at least 30 shots on goal (35) for the sixth time in seven outings. It was led by Mike Fisher (6) and Craig Smith (6), while Matt Hendricks, who played in his 300th career game on Thursday, tied his career high with five shots.
• Nashville doubled-up on Boston in the blocked shot category, led by Fisher who blocked four.
15th ANNIVERSARY MOMENT
March 29, 2010 – Hornqvist hits 30 in Sunrise
Patric Hornqvist scored his 30th goal of the season in a 3-2 victory at Florida, making him the first Predators draft pick to hit the 30-goal mark. Hornqvist netted the equalizer at 16:53 in the third period, knotting the score at 2-2 and sending the game into overtime.
The 2009-10 campaign was a big one for the Sollentuna, Sweden native. In his first full season in the NHL, the last overall draft pick in the 2005 Entry Draft (230th overall) tied fellow forward Steve Sullivan for the team lead in scoring with 51 points on the year. His 30 goals is the fourth-highest total in franchise history. Hornqvist’s eight game-winning goals during the 2009-10 season are tied for the franchise record and were good enough for second in the League. He also set a franchise record for shots in a season with 275.
Hornqvist had the fewest NHL games experience (108) and the lowest average ice time (15:41) among the NHL’s Top 20 goal scorers in 2009-10.
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