PREDATORS (7-3-5) AT AVALANCHE (5-7-1)
TV: Fox Sports Tennessee (Dish: 440/HD: 9575; 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
TONIGHT’S STORYLINES vs. COLORADO
Today marks the first of three games between the Nashville Predators and the Colorado Avalanche, with both games at the Pepsi Center being matinees (the other is March 30) and the contest at Bridgestone Arena coming April 2. Nashville has swept the season series from Avalanche each of the last two seasons, outscoring the Avs 17-6 in four games in 2011-12 and 17-8 in four games in 2010-11. The Preds also won the final game between the clubs in 2009-10, meaning their current win streak against Colorado sits at nine overall, and four in Denver.
Recapping the 2011-12 season series: On April 7 in the regular-season finale, Nashville dropped Colorado by a 6-1 score in Denver with 12 Nashville skaters reaching the scoresheet. On March 8, the Preds scored three straight goals after falling behind early to claim a 4-2 win in Nashville. On Jan. 12, David Legwand scored two goals, including one in overtime, as Nashville overcame a 2-0 deficit to win 3-2 at Bridgestone Arena. On Jan. 10, Ryan Ellis scored his first career game-winning goal in a 4-1 victory at Pepsi Center.
Martin Erat has 11 points (5g-6a) in his last seven games against the Avs… Patric Hornqvist has 13 points (7g-6a) in 13 career games against Colorado… Matt Halischuk has seven points (3g-4a) in eight career games vs. Colorado… Paul Gaustad has four points (1g-3a) in six career games against Colorado and made his NHL debut on March 24, 2003 vs. Colorado… Rich Clune has two assists in two career games vs. Colorado, while Gabriel Bourque has three assists in four career games against the Avs… Shea Weber has 10 points (3g-7a) in his last 12 games against Colorado… Pekka Rinne is 10-3-0 all-time against the Avs… The Predators claimed Brandon Yip on waivers from Colorado on Jan. 19, 2012. Selected 239th overall (eighth round) by the Avs in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, Yip played 113 regular-season games with Colorado from 2009-12, recording 41 points (23g-18a). He also had four points (2g-2a) in six playoff games in 2010. He has two goals in two career games against the Avalanche.
THE PREDATORS IN MATINEES AND ON PRESIDENTS DAY
This afternoon marks the first of three afternoon games the Nashville Predators will play in 2012-13 – they’ll also play at 1 p.m. MT in Denver on March 30, and host Chicago at 2 p.m. CT on April 6. Since the start of the 2003-04 campaign, Nashville has a 22-7-8 record in matinees.
This is also the seventh time in franchise history the Preds have played on Presidents Day; they’ve posted a 3-3-0 record the previous six times playing on the third Monday of February. The last two wins on this day came courtesy of two-goal efforts by Scott Hartnell in a 4-1 win against Phoenix in 2007, and Michigan State University alum Rem Murray in a 5-1 win against Boston in 2003.
TEAM POINTS LEADER COLIN WILSON ON A ROLL
Playing in his 200th career game on Saturday night, Colin Wilson posted an assist on David Legwand’s first period marker. That helper gives Wilson points (1g-2a) in three straight games for the Preds – it is the second time this season he has posted points in three straight (Feb. 2-7; 2g-4a). The Greenwich, Conn., native has been an offensive catalyst for Nashville over the last eight games, having been in on nine of the last 17 Predator goals, and posting nine points (3g-6a) during that span. He leads the team in goals (4) and points (4g-6a).
WEBER HEATS UP
After being held scoreless through the first nine games this season, Shea Weber has posted three points (1g-2a) in his last six games, including points back-to-back games for the Preds (1g-1a). Weber tallied his first goal of the year and the 100th of his career at the 9:31 mark of the second period on Saturday night. That goal made Weber the first Preds defenseman and fifth Predator all-time to break the 100-goal plateau. The marker also made the Sicamous, B.C., native just the 85th defenseman in NHL history to record 100 goals. The Preds captain is currently tied with Steve Sullivan and needs just seven goals to surpass Jason Arnott to move into fourth place on the Preds goals list. The 6-4, 234 pound blueliner is also just one point shy of surpassing J-P Dumont for fourth on Nashville’s all-time scoring list (100g-166a-266pts).
Weber – who posted 27:14 of ice time on Saturday – has also led the Predators in ice time in 14 consecutive games and ranks sixth in the League in average ice time this season (26:34). Despite his high ice time, Weber has only been on the ice for four even-strength goals against. He also led all skaters on Saturday night vs. Anaheim with six shots on goal (tied with David Legwand). He ranks fourth among League defensemen this year with 38 shots on goal.
RINNE MAKING A PUSH FOR EARLY HART CONSIDERATION
Despite taking the shootout loss on Saturday vs. Anaheim, Pekka Rinne’s numbers the last eight games have been stellar – he is 6-1-1 with a 0.97 goals-against average and a .962 save percentage. And though it ended in on Saturday, Rinne posted a shutout streak of 155:06 from Feb. 10-16, a personal best and the second longest in franchise history. The eight-game stretch going back to Jan. 31 includes three shutouts in his last five starts – a 32-save effort in a 3-0 win on Feb. 7 vs. Los Angeles, a 25-save whitewash in a 1-0 overtime win last Tuesday vs. San Jose, and a 19-save performance in a 3-0 win on Thursday against Phoenix. Rinne’s three shutouts this season lead the League, and his total of 28 since the start of the 2008-09 season is also tops among netminders. Overall, Rinne ranks third in goals-against average (1.63) and fourth in save percentage (.936) among starting goaltenders, in addition to being tied for eighth in the NHL in wins (6) and league leader in minutes played (811:33).
TEAM DEFENSE RANKS FIRST
Rinne’s strong numbers have enabled Nashville’s team defense to rise to the top of the NHL as well. The Predators have garnered points in 12 of their first 15 games of 2012-13 – every game in which they’ve scored a goal – thanks to a defense that has allowed just allowed 25 non-shootout goals for an average of 1.67, lowest in the League. Only 16 of those goals have been scored at even strength – the second lowest total in the League – while the penalty kill has successfully extinguished 40-of-45 opportunities against (88.9 percent) in the last 10 games to rise to seventh in the League (85.7 percent).
Much of the defensive success has been accomplished by limiting the shots Nashville goaltenders face. The Preds blocked 17 more shots on Saturday vs. Anaheim to bring their season total up 245, tops in the league. Scott Hannan leads the shot-blocking charge with 34, which is tied for 10th in the League. Kevin Klein (T-20th, 30) and Shea Weber (T-23rd, 29) also ranks among the League leaders, while Mike Fisher is first in the League in blocks (25) among NHL forwards.
Nashville needed extra time to determine a winner for the eighth time in 15 games on Saturday vs. Anaheim, the highest total in the League. Two have been decided in overtime – with the Preds splitting those games – while six more have gone to a shootout – Nashville has posted a 2-4 record in those contests. A season ago, Nashville only needed the shootout 10 times (5-5) – tied for eighth fewest times in the League – and didn’t reach its sixth shootout of the campaign until Feb. 11, 2012, game No. 56. The team didn’t need extra time for an eighth time until game No. 37 on Dec. 28, 2011 against Minnesota.
Tonight, the Predators will start their third of nine sets of back-to-backs in 2012-13. Six times the Preds will play one game at home and one on the road (or vice versa), twice they’ll hit Bridgestone Arena ice on back-to-back days, and on one occasion will play two road games in two nights. A season ago, Nashville was 8-3-0 on the front-end of back-to-backs, and 5-6-0 on the back end. In the Preds’ first set of back-to-backs this season on Jan. 21-22, they dropped a 4-3 shootout decision on home ice to the St. Louis Blues before downing the Wild in St. Paul, 3-1, the following evening. In their second set Feb. 9-10, they fell at Minnesota in overtime, 2-1, then returned home and dropped a 3-0 decision to the Chicago Blackhawks.
LAST TIME OUT: Nashville 2, Anaheim 3 (SO) at Bridgestone Arena
David Legwand tallied his third goal of the season 13:31 into the opening frame. He has two points (1g-1a) in his last three outings… With Legwand’s marker, Nashville has now scored first in 11 of its 15 games, garnering a point in each of those contests (6-0-5)… Sergei Kostitsyn recorded his 100th career assist on Shea Weber’s second period goal…Craig Smith was the only Predator to tally in the shootout. He has now scored on three of five attempts this season to lead the team… Nashville won the face-off battle 37-26 (58.7 percent). The Preds were led by Paul Gaustad won went 11-for-15 in the face-off circle (69 percent). He ranks second in the League this season with a 62.3 percent success rate on draws… Mike Fisher also won more than 65 percent of his face-offs in the contest (13-of-19; 68 percent)… Martin Erat recorded 24:12 of ice time – his highest regular-season ice time since March 4, 2007, when he recorded 26:12 against Anaheim… Shea Weber blocked a game-high five shots on the night… The Predators outshot their opponent for a second straight game (34-22), and for the third time this season. It was the second time the team has posted 30 or more shots on goal in a game in 2012-13... Nine Predators recorded multiple shots on goal.