LIGHTNING (33-20-5) AT PREDATORS PREDATORS (25-24-10)
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. TAMPA BAY
The Nashville Predators and Tampa Bay Lightning square off at Bridgestone Arena on Thursday night for the first time since Oct. 27, 2011. The Preds are 4-4-1 all-time against the Lightning in the Music City and have outscored Tampa 13-7 the previous two contests on Broadway. Nashville is 6-8-(2)-1 all-time against Tampa.
The Preds traveled to Tampa on Dec. 19 for the first meeting between these two teams this season. Craig Smith scored twice for Nashville, but the early gap opened by the Lightning saw them secure a 4-2 victory at Tampa Bay Times Forum.
These teams last met at Bridgestone Arena on Oct. 27, 2011, when Mike Fisher scored two goals and added an assist to lead Nashville to a 5-3 win. Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling also scored for the Preds, while Pekka Rinne made 29 saves en route to the victory.
Smith has four points (2g-2a) in two career games against Tampa… Fisher has 24 points (12g-12a) in 34 career games against the Lightning… Matt Cullen leads all Preds players with 25 points (7g-18a) in 51 career games against Tampa… Patric Hornqvist has three points (2g-1a) in four career games against Tampa… Paul Gaustad has posted his second-highest point total against an individual team with 16 points (6g-10a) in 27 games against the Lightning.
2014 OLYMPIANS RETURN
The Nashville Predators welcomed four Olympians back from Sochi this week as defensemen Roman Josi (Switzerland) and Shea Weber (Canada), forward Simon Moser (Switzerland), and Head Equipment Manager Pete Rogers (United States) all returned to Music City.
Weber returned with his second gold medal in as many Olympics, as his Canadian squad won gold last Sunday. The Preds captain, who also served as an alternate captain for Canada, tied for the team lead with six points (3g-3a) in six games en route to the gold medal. The Sicamous, B.C., native fired 13 shots on goal, posted a +5 rating and led the team in average ice time (21:50). Weber’s six points tied for second among all tournament blueliners.
Josi, who made his first Olympic appearance after missing the 2010 Games due to injury, was held scoreless in Switzerland’s four games, but recorded six shots and averaged 21:03 of ice time. Josi’s countryman, and recent recall from Milwaukee, Moser notched his only point of the tournament when he scored the game-winning goal with less than seven seconds remaining in Switzerland’s opening game against Latvia. The 2014 Games were also Moser’s first, as he finished the tournament with one goal and a +1 rating, while averaging 15:11 of ice time.
NORRIS CALIBER CAPTAIN
Shea Weber has been one of the League’s top point-producing defenseman since Dec. 12, 2013, after posting 25 points (8g-17a) in 28 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.
• His team-leading 19 power-play points (9g-10a) are good for fifth among League defensemen (tie) and rank among the Top 15 skaters in the League.
• 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.
• Weber ranks fourth in the League in average ice time (26:46) and has played past the half-hour mark seven times.
• Weber leads his team and ranks eighth in the NHL in blocked shots (130). He also ranks second on the team in hits (114).
• 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 (971).
SMITH STAYS HOT
Craig Smith compiled six points (2g-4a) in his last six outings prior to the Olympic Break, and 20 points (12g-8a) in his last 25 games. The Madison, Wis., native tied his career points high (14g-22a-36pts), set during his rookie season in 2011-12, with a two-goal performance on Feb. 6 at Minnesota. Smith ranks first in goals, third in team scoring (18g-18a-36pts) and second in shots (144). Twenty (9g-11a) of Smith’s 36 points have come on home ice, where he also paces the team with a +12 rating.
PLAYER QUICK HITS
• Roman Josi has 10 points (4g-6a) and a +8 rating in his last 11 outings. He ranks second on the team and fifth among all League skaters in average ice time (26:15). The Bern, Switzerland native 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.
• David Legwand has 12 points (3g-9a) in his last 12 games.
• Mike Fisher has compiled 17 points (9g-8a) in his last 21 games. The Peterborough, Ont., native leads all Preds forwards in ice time (19:12) – more than two minutes higher than the next closest forward (Legwand, 17:06). Fisher is also leads team forwards in blocked shots (49) and ranks second hits (99).
• Seth Jones is fifth among first-year defensemen in points (5g-16a-21pts), while he ranks second in games played (59), third in average time on ice (20:56). Jones also ranks among the League’s Top 10 rookie skaters in blocked shots (81), 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 coaching 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 (1,173 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 379-251-11-74 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 10-10-5 against the Eastern Conference, including a 5-3-4 mark against the Atlantic Division.
• The Preds have posted five third-period goals in their last five games. Nashville’s third-period goals helped it earn points in three of the five games. The third period has been the Preds most productive this season (50 goals).
• Nashville’s power play ranks among the League’s Top 10 teams (sixth, 20.4 percent). Its home power play ranks sixth (22.5 percent) and its road power play is ranked 10th (18.4 percent). The Preds are 19-6-2 when they score a power-play goal. Shea Weber leads the team with 19 points (9g-9a) on the man advantage.
• Nashville ranks among the League’s Top 10 in average penalty minutes (10.1). The Preds have also been shorthanded the eighth-fewest times in the League (181).
• With the addition of Michael Del Zotto (23), Nashville has the youngest defensive corps in the League (24 years, 19 days). According to Elias Sports Bureau, the only other team in the NHL with an average defensive age under 26 (including players on IR) is Columbus (25 years, 344 days).
• The Preds have not allowed a shorthanded goal since March 21, 2013, when Calgary scored two shorthanded – a span of 77 games. Nashville is the only team in the League not to have allowed a shorthanded goal this season.
• Nashville is tied for second in 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 45 of their 59 games.
LAST TIME OUT: Nashville 2, Anaheim 5 at Bridgestone Arena
• Viktor Stalberg opened the scoring for Nashville in his return after missing five games with an upper-body injury.
• Simon Moser and Victor Bartley picked up assists on Stalberg’s goal. It was Moser’s first career point/assist, while the helper gave Bartley points (2a) in consecutive games for the first time since April 15-19, 2013.
• Mike Fisher tallied a third-period power-play goal, which ended a three-game drought for the Preds power play. The marker gave Fisher three goals in his last five outings.
• David Legwand picked up a helper on Fisher’s power-play marker. It was his fifth point (2g-3a) in six games.
• Patric Hornqvist also tallied an assist on Fisher’s goal. That assist gives him four points (4a) in his last five games and moves him within one helper of 100 for his career.
• Carter Hutton fell in regulation for just the second time in his last 10 outings. He has posted a 6-2-2 record with a 2.66 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage since Jan. 14.
• Nashville outshot Anaheim 38-24, the fourth time in six games that the Preds have fired at least 30 shots on goal, and the 12th time in 2013-14 that they have put least 35 pucks on net (season high of 42 on Jan. 4 at Florida). Colin Wilson led the team and tied his season high with six shots (Dec. 30 vs. Detroit).
• The Preds 25 penalty minutes were the most in a game this season. Rich Clune led all skaters with 17 penalty minutes, tying his career high (Nov. 2 at Los Angeles).
15TH ANNIVERSARY MOMENT
February 28, 2009 – Preds set franchise margin of victory record against Detroit
Just 10 days removed from a disheartening 6-2 loss to Detroit at Joe Louis Arena, the Predators avenged the loss in a big way with an 8-0 rout of the defending Stanley Cup champions at Bridgestone Arena. The victory was Nashville’s fourth straight win and set a franchise record for margin of victory which still stands today.
The Predators came out of the gate strong by scoring five first-period goals in a six-minute span including two goals within 29 seconds of each other. Each goal was scored by a different player and it marked the first time in franchise history that the Predators notched five first-period goals.
Steve Sullivan and J-P Dumont teamed up to deliver assists on each of the final three goals to cap the blowout. Jason Arnott was on the receiving end of two of those assists as he buried his second and third goals of the game at 14:13 in the second period and 13:16 in the third. With his second of three goals, Arnott became the only player in franchise history to score 25 or more goals in a season three times. The third goal completed Arnott’s eighth career hat trick. Shea Weber scored on a slap shot from just a few feet inside the blue line at 8:45 in the third period to finish the scoring.
The victory capped a month that saw the Predators post 10 wins, the third 10-win month in franchise history to that point.
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