PREDATORS (25-23-10) at DUCKS (40-14-5)
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.
SMITH STAYS HOT
With two goals on Thursday night in Minnesota, Craig Smith has compiled six points (2g-4a) in his last five outings, and 20 points (12g-8a) in his last 24 games. The two-goal performance was his fourth of the season as he now owns four of Nashville’s 10 multiple-goal outings in 2013-14. The outing also tied the Madison, Wis., native’s career points high (14g-22a-36pts) set during his rookie season in 2011-12. Smith ranks first in goals, third in team scoring (18g-18a-36pts) and second shots (141). Twenty (9g-11a) of Smith’s 36 points have come on home ice, where he also paces the team with a +12 rating.
LAST TIME OUT: Nashville 2, Minnesota 3 (OT) at XCEL Energy Center
• Overtime was required for the third consecutive game. It was the first time Nashville has played three consecutive extra time games since Oct. 16-21, 2010.
• Victor Bartley also picked up a helper on the night. It was his second point (2a) in his last three games.
• Nashville’s 18 shots on goal were its lowest shot total since Nov. 23 against the New York Rangers, while Minnesota’s 36 shots were the most allowed since Jan. 20 against Dallas (36).
• Roman Josi blocked six shots, nearly matching Minnesota’s team total (nine).
• Matt Cullen returned the lineup after missing four games with an upper-body injury.
• The Preds had four players better than 55 percent in the face-off circle, led by Mike Fisher (69 percent) and Cullen (63 percent).
NORRIS CALIBER CAPTAIN
Shea Weber has been the League’s top point-producing defenseman since Dec. 12, 2013, after posting 25 points (8g-17a) in 27 games during that span.
• With his recent hot streak, Nashville’s captain now ranks among the League’s Top 10 defensemen in scoring (15g-23a-38pts).
• Weber leads all League defensemen in goals (15, tied with Erik Karlsson (OTT)), and his nine power-play goals pace all blueliners and rank among the League’s Top 10 skaters.
• Since the beginning of the 2008-09 season, Weber ranks first among NHL defensemen in goals (98), second in points (259), first in power-play goals (45), first in game-winning goals (15) and eighth in hits (968).
• Eight of Weber’s 15 goals have come in the first period. The Preds are 11-1-2 when their captain finds the back of the net.
• Eight (3g-5a) of his 38 points have come on game-winning goals.
• His team-leading 19 power-play points (9g-10a) are good for third among League defensemen (tie) and rank among the Top 15 skaters in the League.
• Weber ranks fourth in the League in average ice time (26:45) and has played past the half-hour mark seven times.
• Weber leads his team and ranks eighth in the NHL in blocked shots (126). He also ranks second on the team in hits (111).
• The Sicamous, B.C., native will serve as an alternate captain for the 2014 Canadian Olympic Team in Sochi later this month – it is his second Olympic appearance for Canada. During the 2010 Olympics, he was named to the tournament’s all-star team after tying for second among blueliners in points (2g-4a) and helping Canada claim gold.
PLAYER QUICK HITS
• Roman Josi has 10 points (4g-6a) and a +10 rating in his last 10 outings. He played more than 30 minutes for the fifth time this season on Thursday night in Minnesota (30:42). The Bern, Switzerland native ranks second on the team and fifth among all League skaters in average ice time (26:16). Josi is one of just three blueliners in the NHL this season (Ryan Ellis and Kevin Shattenkirk), and one of three in franchise history, to record multiple shootout tallies. He was recently selected for his second Swiss Olympic Team. He was named to the Swiss team in 2010, but missed the Vancouver Games due to injury.
• David Legwand has 11 points (3g-8a) in his last 11 games.
• Mike Fisher has compiled 16 points (8g-8a) in his last 20 games. The Peterborough, Ont., native leads all Preds forwards in ice time (19:11) – more than two minutes higher than the next closest forward (Legwand, 17:03). Fisher is also tied for the team lead in blocked shots (47) and ranks second hits (95).
• Seth Jones is 15th among first-year players in points (5g-16a-21pts), while he ranks second in games played (58), third in average time on ice (20:57), and is among the League’s Top 10 rookies in blocked shots (78), power-play points (8) and power-play goals (2).
TROTZ CLIMBS ALL-TIME LISTS
Barry Trotz, the only head coach the Nashville Predators have ever known, ranks 14th on the all-time wins list (544). Trotz is now five wins shy of tying Marc Crawford for 13th all-time (549). The Dauphin, Manitoba, native is the longest tenured head coach in the NHL (1,172 games) and has the second-longest active tenure in all four major sports behind the San Antonio Spurs’ Head Coach Gregg Popovich. Trotz’s system has seen marked improvement over the past 10 seasons, as the Preds posted a 145-199-49-17 record through the club's first five seasons, and 379-250-11-74 in the 10 seasons since, in addition to posting a 21-21-7 record in the playoffs during that span.
TEAM QUICK HITS
• Nashville is 15-13-5 against the Western Conference this season, including a 7-4-3 mark against the Pacific Division.
• The Preds have posted four third-period goals in their last four games – outscoring the opposition 4-1 during that span. Nashville’s third-period goals helped it earn points in three of the four games. The third period has been the Preds most productive this season (49 goals).
• Nashville’s power play ranks among the League’s Top 10 teams (seventh, 20.2 percent). Its home power play ranks sixth (22.1 percent) and its road power play is ranked 12th (18.8 percent). The Preds are 19-5-2 when they score a power-play goal. Shea Weber leads the team with 19 points (9g-9a) on the man advantage.
• With the addition of Michael Del Zotto (23), Nashville has the youngest defensive corps in the League (23 years, 364 days). According to Elias Sports Bureau, the only other teams in the NHL with an average defensive age under 26 (including players on IR) are Columbus (25 years, 324 days) and Washington (25 years, 357 days).
• The Preds have played 29 home games and 29 road games going into Saturday night’s tilt against the Ducks.
• The Preds have not allowed a shorthanded goal since March 21, 2013, when Calgary scored two shorthanded – a span of 76 games. Nashville is the only team in the League not to have allowed a shorthanded goal this season.
• Nashville ranks second the League in team face-off win percentage (53.2 percent). The Preds have been 50 percent or better in the face-off circle in 44 of their 58 games.
• Of Nashville's top 13 point getters this season, 10 are Preds draft picks.
STORYLINES VS. ANAHEIM
In the Nashville Predators last game before the Olympic Break, they take on the Anaheim Ducks for the final time at Bridgestone Arena this season; the Preds will head to Pacific Coast on April 4 to finish the season series. Nashville has collected at least a point in eight of its last 10 games against Anaheim dating back to Jan. 5, 2011, going 6-2-2 in those games. Nashville has posted a 15-8-(2)-3 all-time record against Anaheim on Bridgestone Arena ice.
These teams met for the first time on Jan. 9 in the Music City, as the Preds jumped out to an early lead, before a four-goal second period from Anaheim would lead to a 4-3 Ducks victory. Paul Gaustad and Craig Smith pushed Nashville out to a 2-0 lead just 2:22 into the game to carry the lead into the middle frame. Ryan Getzlaf tied the game with a pair goals of his own within the first five minutes of the second. Rich Clune regained the lead for the Preds less than a minute later, but Corey Perry would again tie the game 56 seconds after Clune’s goal. It was Teemu Selanne’s power-play goal with less than two minutes remaining in the period would that prove to be the difference maker as he pushed the final margin to 4-3.
Patric Hornqvist has 14 points (6g-8a) in 17 career games against the Ducks… Gabriel Bourque has three assists in his first five career games against Anaheim… Craig Smith has six points (4g-2a) in eight career games against Anaheim… Matt Cullen, who Anaheim drafted in the second round of the 1996 NHL Entry Draft, posted 200 points (65g-135a) in 427 games with the Ducks. As a member of the opposition, Cullen has recorded 15 points (5g-10a) in 18 career games against Anaheim.
CAREER HIGHLIGHT VS. ANAHEIM
Shea Weber tied his career-high 10 shots on goal on Jan. 2, 2010 vs. Anaheim.
15TH ANNIVERSARY MOMENT
February 9, 2002: Denis Arkhipov breaks scoreless tie in OT with highlight reel goal at Columbus
Denis Arkhipov broke a scoreless tie at 2:45 of overtime and goaltender Tomas Vokoun stopped all 25 shots he faced to vault the Predators to a 1-0 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. The victory improved Nashville to 5-0-10 when going to the extra session in 2001-02, and set the stage for back-to-back 1-0 shutouts just three nights later against Florida.
Arkhipov’s 14th marker of the season was one for the highlight reels. While in the process of being knocked off his feet by Columbus defenders Matthias Timander and Jean-Luc Grand-Pierre, the Kazan, Russia native snapped a wrist shot over goalie Marc Denis’ shoulder for his second overtime winner in less than three weeks.
"It's my second goal in overtime," said Arkhipov, whose other overtime game winner came at Philadelphia on Jan. 24. "I was just going to the net, took the shot and scored. We caught them on a change. I just took it to the net and put it upstairs."
The goal continued the Predators best stretch of the 2001-02 season – a 6-2-1 mark from late January to early March.
"It's a big win for us," Head Coach Barry Trotz said. "We're trying to string a couple of wins together. Our road record hasn't been very good and we're trying to catch some teams in front of us. Columbus is a hard team to play."
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