PREDATORS (32-21-11) AT STARS (34-27-11)
TV: FOX Sports Tennessee (Dish: 446/HD: 9516; Direct TV: 644/HD: 646-2 ; 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. DALLAS
The Nashville Predators and Dallas Stars square off on Friday night for the first of two match-ups in “The Big D” during the final two weeks of the regular season. Nashville is 25-30-2 all-time against the Stars, and holds a 2-1-0 edge in this season’s series after the first three games.
These two teams last met on Jan. 20 at Bridgestone Arena, when Carter Hutton made 35 stops in a 4-1 Predators win. Shea Weber, who was named an alternate captain for Canada’s Olympic team the day before, scored the game-winning goal with three minutes left to go in the first period. Nick Spaling, Mike Fisher and Roman Josi also found the back of the net for Nashville. Cody Eakin scored the lone goal for the Stars.
In their last rendezvous at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Erik Cole scored twice, and Kari Lehtonen stopped 33 shots in the Stars’ 4-1 victory.
Patric Hornqvist has 12 points (7g-5a) in 18 career games against Dallas… Craig Smith has four points (1g-4a) in seven career games against the Stars… Colin Wilson has nine points (4g-5a) in 12 career games against the Stars… Eric Nystrom played the previous two seasons with Dallas, posting 32 points (23g-9a) in 95 games.
A NIGHT OF FIRSTS
Rookies Colton Sissons and Calle Jarnkrok became the fifth and sixth Preds players to record their first career NHL goals this season on Thursday night in Buffalo, joining Filip Forsberg, Victor Bartley, Seth Jones and Mattias Ekholm in accomplishing the feat.
Sissons’ tally, the Preds first of the game, came 6:26 into the first period. In addition to scoring his first career NHL goal, Sissons played 14:28, a career high. In his first NHL season, the North Vancouver, B.C., native has three points (1g-2a) in 14 games.
Jarnkrok continues his strong showing for the Preds, recording a point in his fourth straight game, the first four games of his NHL career. The Galve, Sweden native is one of only two Preds players to record at least one point in his first four NHL games, the other was Marek Zidlicky (who was too old to be considered a rookie when he made his NHL debut). Zidlicky recorded a point in each of his first six games from Oct. 9-23, 2003.
WEBER HITS 20
Weber has been one of the League’s top point-producing defensemen since the calendar turned to 2014. In 2013 (37 games), Weber had 22 points (9g-13a), with one game-winning goal and was a -13. In 2014 (34 games), he has recorded 26 points (11g-15a), tallying three game-winning goals and is a +4.
• With two goals on Thursday night vs. Buffalo, Weber is now tied for first among League defensemen in goals (20, Erik Karlsson, OTT), while his 11 power-play goals pace all blueliners and rank among the League’s Top 10 skaters.
• Nashville’s captain is the 10th player in franchise history to hit the 20-goal mark more than once, and the first defenseman to achieve the feat.
• He is one of four defensemen (Karlsson, OTT; P.K. Subban, MTL; and Keith Yandle, PHX) to lead their team in scoring and last season (12-13) became the first Preds defenseman to lead the team in points.
• His team-leading 25 power-play points (11g-14a) are good for third among League defensemen and rank among the Top 10 skaters.
• Weber has recorded two multi-goal games in the past week (March 21 vs. Calgary, March 27 vs. Buffalo). The Preds are 14-1-2 when their captain finds the back of the net.
• The Sicamous, B.C, native ranks fourth in the League in average ice time (26:53). Weber played 34:14 on March 23 in Chicago, a career-high and the fourth time this season that he has played more than 31 minutes.
• Weber leads his team and is 13th in the NHL in blocked shots (151). He also leads the team in hits (149), making him the only player in the NHL this season with more than 100 hits, 100 blocked shots and 10 goals.
• Since the beginning of the 2008-09 season, Weber ranks first among NHL defensemen in goals (103), second in points (269), first in power-play goals (47), first in game-winning goals (16) and eighth in hits (1,006).
JOSI CONTINUES STRONG PLAY
With an assist on Thursday night against the Sabres, defenseman Roman Josi has tallied four points (2g-2a) in his last four games, moving him into the Top 30 in scoring among League defenseman. Josi scored the Preds first two goals on Tuesday against Colorado, his second career multi-goal game. The first came on Feb. 25, 2013 vs. Dallas as part of a four-point performance (2g-2a).
Nashville is the only Western Conference team with two defensemen to have 10 or more goals (Weber, 20) and one of only three teams in the NHL to have multiple defenseman in the double digits (Boston, Pittsburgh).
In the March 23 win at Chicago, Josi saw a career high in minutes (32:41), the fifth time this season he has played more than 31 minutes in a game. He ranks second on the team and fifth among all League skaters in average ice time (26:23). The Bern, Switzerland native is one of just three blueliners in the NHL this season (teammate Ryan Ellis and St. Louis Blue d-man Kevin Shattenkirk), and one of three in franchise history, to record multiple shootout tallies.
PLAYER QUICK HITS
• Matt Cullen has seven points (3g-4a) in his last four games. Cullen’s two-goal effort on Tuesday was his first multi-goal performance since Feb. 21, 2013 as a member of the Minnesota Wild. His four points (1g-3a) on March 21 in Calgary matched a career high he has set three times before, the most recent being Nov. 21 against Toronto. The Preds have not lost a game in regulation when Cullen finds the back of the net (6-0-2).
• Mike Fisher has points in four straight games (1g-3a), one game shy of his season-best streak (twice; Dec. 28-Jan. 5 and Feb. 8-March 6). He leads all Preds forwards in ice time (19:36) – nearly three minutes higher than the next closest forward (Hornqvist, 16:41). Fisher also leads team forwards in blocked shots (67) and ranks second hits (126).
• Patric Hornqvist has 14 points (4g-10a) in his last 19 games and seven points (2g-5a) in his last seven games, moving him into a tie for third (Fisher, 18g-22a) in team scoring (14g-26a-40pts). The Sollentuna, Sweden native’s 215 shots lead the team and rank among the League’s Top 30 skaters. Half of Hornqvist’s 14 goals this season have come in the second period.
• Nick Spaling has 12 points (6g-6a) in his last 19 outings. The Preds are 10-2-1 when Spaling scores a goal this season, as well as 31-6-2 when he scores a goal and 43-14-5 when he records a point all-time.
• Gabriel Bourque tied a career high with a point in his fourth straight game on Thursday vs. Buffalo (1g-3a). He’s also reached the scoresheet in five of his last six appearances (2g-3a).
• Barry Trotz, the only head coach in Preds history, is 13th all-time in coaching wins (551). The Dauphin, Manitoba, native is the longest tenured head coach in the NHL (1,188) and has the second-longest active tenure in all four major sports behind the San Antonio Spurs’ Head Coach Gregg Popovich.
MILESTONES WITHIN REACH
• Shea Weber is one game from 600 career NHL games. He is also five points shy of tying his career points high (53 points (23g-30a) set during the 2008-09 season).
• Patric Hornqvist is two goals shy of becoming the fourth Preds draftee to hit the 100-goal plateau.
• Michael Del Zotto is one assist from 100 career helpers.
• Eric Nystrom is two goals from tying his career high (16) and one point shy of tying his career points high (currently 21 points (16g-5a) set during the 2011-12 season).
• Colin Wilson is one assist from setting a career high (21) and seven points shy of tying his career points high (35 points (15g-20a) set during the 2011-12 season).
LAST TIME OUT: Nashville 6, Buffalo 1 at Bridgestone Arena
• Tuesday’s four-goal first period marked the first time in 2013-14 that the Preds have scored four goals in one period. Nashville last achieved the feat on March 23, 2013, scoring four in the first period against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
• With the game-winning tally, Colin Wilson scored his first goal in the 2014 calendar year, ending a 33-game drought.
• Rich Clune (2a) picked up his first points since Jan. 9 vs. Anaheim, his second multi-point game of the season (Dec. 10 at New York Rangers, 1g-1a). It was his second career multi-assist performance (first, Feb. 13, 2010 vs. Colorado).
• All 12 Nashville forwards, and 14 skaters in all, recorded a point on the night.
• Defenseman Victor Bartley recorded the first major penalty of his career.
• The Preds have earned points in 20 of 21 games in which they’ve scored four goals or more (16-1-4) and in all 24 where they have led after 40 minutes (20-0-4).
TEAM QUICK HITS
• The Predators have scored six or more goals in a game five times this season (last on March 21 at Calgary).
• Nashville has the youngest defensive corps in the League (24.02 years). Only two other teams in the NHL have an average defensive age under 26 (including players on IR): Ottawa (25.32 years) and Washington (25.35 years).
• The Preds have not allowed a shorthanded goal since March 21, 2013, when Calgary scored two shorthanded – a span of 89 games. Nashville is the only team in the League not to have allowed a shorthanded goal this season.
• With a win Thursday against Buffalo, Nashville improved to 24-3-6 when scoring the first goal of the game, and 21-1-2 when leading after the first period.
• Nashville is tied for second in the League lead in team face-off win percentage (52.8 percent). The Preds have been 50 percent or better in the face-off circle in 56 of their 74 games.
• The Preds have scored a goal in 11 of the last 12 regulation periods, totaling 18 goals in that span.
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS vs. DALLAS
• Gabriel Bourque scored his first NHL goal on Jan. 5, 2012 (Kari Lehtonen).
• Rich Clune converted his first career penalty shot on March 12, 2013 (Kari Lehtonen).
• Mike Fisher scored on the first of two career penalty shots on Dec. 5, 2001 (Marty Turco). He also played his 800th career game on March 12, 2013.
• Patric Hornqvist posted a career-high/franchise-record 14 shots on Dec. 28, 2010, and scored his first career goal on Oct. 15, 2008 (Marty Turco).
• Roman Josi recorded a career-high in goals and points (2g-2a-4pts) on Feb. 25, 2013.
• Viktor Stalberg tallied a career-high three assists on March 16, 2013, and attempted his first career penalty shot on Jan. 5, 2011 (no goal).
• Shea Weber appeared in his 500th career NHL game on Feb. 25, 2013.
15TH ANNIVERSARY MOMENT
Feb. 25, 2013 – Josi’s Coming out Party
Despite being selected 38th overall in the 2008 Entry Draft and playing internationally as a teenager, Roman Josi entered the 2012-13 season under the radar having come from the quiet country of Switzerland. But in front of a nationally televised audience on the NBC Sports Network on Feb. 25, Josi not-so-quietly informed the rest of the hockey world he was one of the top young defensemen in the game, posting the fifth four-point performance by a defenseman in franchise history in a 5-4 overtime victory over Dallas.
"The last couple of games, he's played with a lot of jump," Head Coach Barry Trotz said after the game. "I think he's finding himself as a player in this League. He's very comfortable and he's playing in all situations and he's becoming a very important part of our team."
After falling behind 2-1 early, Josi scored his first goal of the game at 3:20 of the second period. Dallas would extend its lead to 4-2 by the game’s midpoint, which is when Josi got down to business. He set up a late second-frame tally by Patric Hornqvist, then the equalizer by Mike Fisher at 9:22 of the third. His second goal, and fourth point of the night, was also his first career game-winning goal and overtime tally. It came on a slap shot from the left point just 28 seconds into the extra frame.
Since that late February night, Josi has become much more of a household name, putting down roots on the top defensive pairing with captain Shea Weber and earning a seven-year contract during the summer of 2013. He also garnered headlines in May 2013 when he became the first Swiss player to be named Most Valuable Player, Best Defenseman and a tournament All-Star at the 2013 World Championships, while helping the country to a silver medal, the nation’s first medal in 60 years.
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