TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. LOS ANGELES
The Predators and Kings hook up for a matinee game this afternoon at Staples Center, Nashville’s first of five day games it will play this season. The past three seasons combined, the club has gone 10-3-2 in afternoon contests. In 2008-09, Nashville swept its four-game series with L.A., improving the Predators record to 17-17-(1)-5 against the Kings. Nashville is 5-1-0 in its last six trips to Tinseltown, winning by scores of 3-1 and 4-3 last season. In the Preds first visit on Nov. 15, J.P. Dumont scored the game winner with just 2:28 remaining in regulation to cap a three-game sweep of California’s teams (Nashville had beaten Anaheim the previous night and San Jose on Nov. 11) for the first time in franchise history. In its second trip to Southern California, Ryan Jones scored the game winner with just 2:18 left in the third – the latest a regulation game-winning goal was scored all season. In the most recent matchup, Nashville prevailed thanks to a Steve Sullivan goal 3:41 into overtime. He also added two helpers, while Martin Erat assisted on all four Nashville goals, a career high. Nashville’s power play was particularly effective in the four Kings games, going 5-for-14 (35.7 percent) against a penalty kill ranked seventh-best in 2008-09.
The Preds are 0-3-1-1 all-time in games played on November 7, with four of the five games being decided by one goal or less. The team has been on the road for four of its five November 7 games, -- including both overtime affairs -- but Nashville has still managed a point in two of its last three November 7 contests. Nashville fell 5-3 at Vancouver in 1998 and 2-1 at the NY Islanders in 2000. The Preds picked up a 2-2 tie at San Jose in 2002 -- capping a string of three OT decisions in four games for the Preds that autumn. In 2003, the Preds dropped a one-goal decision to the Chicago Blackhawks, 2-1, the team's lone November 7 home game, before picking up another point with a shootout loss at Detroit in 2007 -- the first game in a string of four overtime contests in fives games for the Preds.
All-time series highlights: Three times in franchise history the club has posted a margin of victory greater than six, and twice it has occurred against Los Angeles. On Dec. 23, 2006, Dumont notched four points (2g-2a), while Jason Arnott and David Legwand both scored two goals apiece in a 7-0 victory at the Sommet Center. On Jan. 8, at the Staples Center, Darcy Hordichuk, Arnott and Legwand set the franchise record for fastest three goals by the club (1:15) in a 7-0 victory.
Erat led all Nashville scorers with seven points (1g-6a) in 2008-09, while Dumont (2g-3a), Shea Weber (3g-1a) and Joel Ward (2g-2a) all played in each game of the series and averaged a point-per-game or greater. Sullivan posted four points (2g-2a) while playing in the final two games of the series. Dumont is averaging a point-per-game against the Kings for his career, with 21 points (10g-11a) in 21 games. Arnott’s next point against L.A. will be his 50th career point against the club. It would be the third club he has reached the half-century in points against, joining Phoenix (53) and San Jose (50). Nashville’s captain has 12 points (7g-5a) in eight games against L.A. as a Predator, and notched his seventh career hat trick against the Kings on Dec. 22, 2007.
Jerred Smithson started his NHL career with Los Angeles, playing 30 games (3a) with the Kings between 2002-04. He also played three seasons with L.A.’s AHL affiliate in Manchester (2001-04), amassing 63 points (16g-47a) in 182 games.
Career highs/highlights attained against the Kings
Dan Ellis – First career game and win (with Dallas) on Feb. 8, 2004. Martin Erat – Career high four assists/points on March 28, 2009. Patric Hornqvist – Career high two assists on Oct. 25, 2008. David Legwand – Second of three career penalty shots on Nov. 5, 2005 against Jason LaBarbara (no goal). TEAM QUICK HITS
Defensemen have accounted one-third of Nashville’s 27 goals this season (9) and have 16 of the club’s 47 assists (35.6 percent)… The Predators have seven special-teams goals in their last six games (five on the power play and two shorthanded), nearly half their goal total in that span (7-of-15, 46.6 percent)… Nashville has seven first-period goals in its last seven games after posting one opening-frame marker in its first seven games of the season… In its last six outings, Nashville has seven third-period goals after posting two in the first eight games of the campaign… The Predators have put up 30-or-more shots in four of their last five road games, and have outshot or had an even number of shots as the home team in four of the last five… Nashville has put double-digit shots on the board in each of its last three first periods, outshooting the opposition 35-26, and in each of its last three third periods, outshooting its foes 42-26… Nashville is 4-1-0 when scoring the first goal of the game… The Predators have garnered nine of their 13 points (69 percent) in one-goal games (4-2-1 record)… Nashville ranks second in the League in fewest penalty minutes per game (9.9). PLAYER QUICK HITS Patric Hornqvist put a career-high 10 shots on goal on Thursday in Anaheim, the highest shot total by a Predator since Jason Arnott put 10 shots on net at Buffalo on Feb. 27, 2008. The total tied for the second-most in franchise history, behind only Arnott’s 12-shot game on Dec. 4, 2007 at Toronto… Francis Bouillon has played more than 20 minutes in seven of the last eight games. He only had six 20-plus minute games in all of 2008-09 with Montreal and 10 such games in 2007-08. Bouillon leads Nashville in hits (39)… After being held pointless in the first 12 games of his NHL career, Mike Santorelli has collected both his first goal and his first assist in the last four games… Pekka Rinne, named the NHL’s Second Star of the Week on Monday, has posted 3-1-0 record, a 1.66 goals-against average and a .936 save percentage in his last four starts.