The Nashville Predators and Columbus Blue Jackets face off on Saturday night at Bridgestone Arena for the second and final time this season. A season ago, the Predators posted a 1-3-1 record against the Blue Jackets, including a 1-1-1 mark on home ice, but are 51-17-(2)-5 against Columbus all-time and 30-4-(1)-3 all-time on Bridgestone Arena ice.
These teams last met on Thanksgiving Eve as the Preds shut out the Blue Jackets 4-0 at Nationwide Arena. Matt Cullen, Mike Fisher, and Nick Spaling all scored for the Preds as they extended a successful mid-November streak to five wins in six games. Marek Mazanec turned away all 19 shots he faced to earn his second career shutout, and second whitewash in a five-game span.
The Blue Jackets last appearance at Bridgestone Arena came on April 4, 2013, as the Jackets used two third-period goals to defeat the Preds, 3-1.
Fisher has 11 points (9g-2a) in 14 games against the Blue Jackets since joining the Preds… Cullen has 16 points (6g-10a) in 25 games against Columbus… Shea Weber has 34 points (10g-24a) in 42 career games against Columbus, his highest total against any team… Gabriel Bourque has been a point-per-game player against Columbus with five points (1g-4a) in five career games… Michael Del Zotto has tallied five points (1g-4a) in six career games against the Jackets.CAREER HIGHLIGHTS vs. COLUMBUS
• Gabriel Bourque posted a career-high two assists against the Blue Jackets on March 23, 2013.
• Craig Smith made his NHL debut and scored his first career goal at Columbus on Oct. 7, 2011.
• Viktor Stalberg posted the lone hat trick of his career against the Blue Jackets on Jan. 10, 2012.
• Shea Weber posted a career-high four points (1g-3a) on Oct. 18, 2008 vs. Columbus.
The line of Mike Fisher, Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling has been the Preds most productive of late, posting a combined 22 points (9g-13a) in their last nine outings.
Fisher has points (1g-4a) in five straight games, tying his longest stretch of the season (Dec. 28-Jan. 5 (4g-6a-10pts)). With assists in four straight, Fisher is now one helper away from tying his career-long five-game streak (two times, last Jan.1-12, 2008 (5a)). The Peterborough, Ont., native leads all Preds forwards in ice time (19:19) – nearly three minutes higher than the next closest forward (Hornqvist, 16:38). Fisher also leads team forwards in blocked shots (55) and ranks second hits (106).
Hornqvist’s assist on Thursday night was his 100th career helper – making him the seventh Preds draft pick to attain the feat. The Sollentuna, Sweden native has seven points (2g-5a) in his last nine games to move into fourth in team scoring (12g-21a-33pts). His 184 shots lead the team and rank among the League’s Top 30 skaters. Six of Hornqvist’s 12 goals this season have come in the second period.
Spaling has points in back-to-back games (1g-1a) after missing the previous five games with a lower-body injury. He has eight points (4g-4a) in his last nine outings, and recently surpassed his career high in points (11g-13a-24pts). The Preds are 8-2-1 when he scores a goal this season, and are 29-6-2 when he scores a goal and 41-14-5 when he records a point all-time.
NORRIS CALIBER CAPTAIN
Shea Weber has been one of the League’s top point-producing defensemen since Dec. 12, 2013, posting 27 points (8g-19a) in 32 games during that span.
• Weber has hit the 40-point mark for the fifth consecutive full season, and he ranks among the League’s Top 10 defensemen in scoring (15g-25a-40pts).
• He is one of three defensemen (Erik Karlsson (OTT) and P.K. Subban (MTL)) to lead their team in scoring.
• Weber ranks second among League defensemen in goals, while his nine power-play goals pace all blueliners and rank among the League’s Top 10 skaters.
• His team-leading 21 power-play points (9g-12a) are good for fourth among League defensemen 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.
• Weber ranks fourth in the League in average ice time (26:48) and has played past the half-hour mark seven times.
• Weber leads his team and ranks eighth in the NHL in blocked shots (135). He also ranks second on the team in hits (123), 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 (98), second in points (261), first in power-play goals (45), first in game-winning goals (15) and eighth in hits (980).
PLAYER QUICK HITS
• Roman Josi has 11 points (5g-6a) in his last 15 outings. He ranks second on the team and fifth among all League skaters in average ice time (26:18). 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.
• Pekka Rinne has been among the League’s elite since becoming a full-time starter in 2008-09, ranking first in shutouts and among the Top 10 in wins, save percentage and goals-against average prior to his injury.
• Craig Smith has compiled seven points (2g-5a) in his last 10 outings. Smith ranks first in goals, and second in team scoring and shots (159). Twenty-one (9g-12a) of Smith’s 37 points have come on home ice, where he also paces the team with a +9 rating.
• Seth Jones is sixth in points (5g-16a-21pts), first in games played (63) and third in average time on ice (20:41) among first-year defensemen. Jones also ranks among the League’s Top 10 rookie skaters in blocked shots (87), power-play points (8) and power-play goals (2).
MILESTONES WITHIN REACH
• Michael Del Zotto is three assists from 100 career helpers.
• Ryan Ellis is one goal from establishing a career high in goals.
• Patric Hornqvist is four goals shy of becoming the fourth Preds draftee to hit the 100-goal plateau and one goal shy of the sixth-most power-play goals in franchise history (35). He is also four points shy of 200 career points.
• Eric Nystrom is one point from 100 career points and five points shy of establishing a career high.
• Pekka Rinne is five wins shy of surpassing Tomas Vokoun's mark in all-time wins (157; Vokoun, 161).
• Viktor Stalberg is five games from 300 career games.
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 (545), and is four wins shy of tying Marc Crawford for 13th all-time (549). The Dauphin, Manitoba, native is the longest tenured head coach in the NHL (1,177 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 380-254-11-74 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 20-6-2 when it scores a power-play goal, and 8-0-1 when it scores multiple power-play goals. Nashville’s power play ranks 11th in the League (20.1 percent), while its home power play ranks eighth (21.5 percent).
• Nashville ranks among the League’s Top 10 in average penalty minutes (seventh, 10.2). The Preds have also been shorthanded the fourth-fewest times in the League (192).
• 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 81 games. Nashville is the only team in the League not to have allowed a shorthanded goal this season.
• Nashville is first in the League in team face-off win percentage (53.4 percent). The Preds have been 50 percent or better in the face-off circle in 49 of their 63 games.
LAST TIME OUT: Nashville 1, St. Louis 2 at Bridgestone Arena
• It was just Nashville’s fourth regulation loss in a one-goal game this season. The Predators are 14-4-10 in one-goal games.
• Alex Steen’s penalty shot was the sixth faced by Pekka Rinne in his career, and fourth stopped. Rinne last faced a penalty shot on Oct. 10, 2013, stopping Toronto’s Carl Gunnarsson (no goal). Steen’s attempt was the third faced by the Preds this season, and the third unsuccessful attempt. Overall, it was the 33rd penalty shot against in franchise history.
• Nashville limited St. Louis to just 21 shots on goal. The Preds have held their opponent to an average of 20.2 shots over the last five games and are now ranked ninth in the NHL in shots against per game (28.7).
• The Preds won the faceoff battle 32-28, led by Matt Cullen (64 percent).
• Patrick Eaves made his Preds debut after being acquired on Wednesday in a trade with Detroit.
March 8, 2013 – Colin Wilson drives the Preds’ offensive bus, picks up his 100th career point
Colin Wilson not only continued his red-hot point production on Bridgestone Arena ice in a 6-0 drubbing of the Edmonton Oilers on March 8, 2013, but he hit a pair of personal milestones in the process, collecting his 100th career point with an assist on Nashville’s opening goal, then proceeding to collect another first-period helper and score a pair of third-period goals to complete his first career four-point game.
The outburst continued a productive streak for Wilson that saw him produce 18 points (6g-12a) in 17 games from early February to early March, reaching the scoresheet on 19 of 40 Predator goals (47.5 percent) in that span – before sustaining a season-ending shoulder injury just 24 hours after the Edmonton win. To that point, the Greenwich, Conn., native had also produced 13 points (6g-7a) in 11 home games and led the Preds in points (7g-12a-19pts).
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