TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. DETROIT
The Red Wings and Predators renew their Central Division rivalry tonight in the first of six 2009-10 meetings. A season ago, Nashville posted the its best-ever record against Detroit, going 4-2-0. The Predators have won the last three meetings of the teams, including a 4-3 shootout decision on April 9 which saw the Predators rally from a two-goal deficit in the final seven minutes of regulation, then win the game in a shootout. Jason Arnott pitched in a goal and an assist, in addition to posting his first career shootout-deciding marker, in the win, while linemate J.P. Dumont sent the game to overtime with a goal at 19:00 of the third period. The three-game winning streak started on Feb. 28 with an 8-0 victory by the Predators in Detroit’s last visit to the Sommet Center, which is the largest margin of victory in franchise history. Arnott again led the way with his eighth career hat trick, and Dumont and Steve Sullivan each had three assists. Nashville’s power play was especially effective in the 2008-09 season series, going 7-for-23 (30.4 percent) – nearly twice their season success rate of 15.7 percent. Nashville possesses a 14-15-2 home record against the Wings all-time, and has done no worse than split the home portion of the series for the past three seasons.
The Nashville Predators are 4-1-0 all-time in games played on November 23, including 2-0-0 at home. The Preds have won their last three Nov. 23 appearances starting with a 4-2 win at Columbus in 2005. Nashville posted a 6-0 home shutout over Vancouver in 2006 and a 5-2 win at Carolina last season. The Preds split their first two No. 23 games, winning 5-0 at home against Pittsburgh in 2001 and dropping a 4-2 decision at Minnestoa in 2002.
All-time series highlights: The Predators have had several memorable comebacks against the Wings over the past few years. On Feb. 24, 2007, Peter Forsberg's first goal as a Predator was the overtime game winner (2:11) in a 4-3 win over Detroit. Paul Kariya scored to tie the game at 3-3 with 1:04 remaining in regulation. On Nov. 8, 2003, Nashville staged one of the largest comebacks in franchise history, rallying from a 3-0 deficit with four third-period goals, in a 4-3 win at the Joe Louis Arena. On Feb. 4, 2003, the Predators rallied from a 5-2 deficit to tie the Red Wings 5-5 at Joe Louis Arena.
Steve Sullivan (3g-5a) and J.P. Dumont (1g-7a) tied for the team lead in points a season ago with eight apiece. Detroit’s 5-2 win on Feb. 10 was the last of 142 consecutive regular season games missed by Sullivan before returning from a back injury. As a Predator, Sullivan has 17 points (6g-11a) in 16 games vs. Detroit… Jason Arnott and Joel Ward each scored a team-high four goals against the Red Wings in 2008-09… A native of Detroit, David Legwand has 30 points (11g-19a) in 45 career games against his hometown team… Goaltender Pekka Rinne has won three-of-four career starts against Detroit, posting a 2.46 goals-against average and .930 save percentage.
Career highs/highlights attained against the Red Wings
Jason Arnott – Eighth career hat trick on Feb. 28, 2009. Pekka Rinne – Saw a career-high 50 shots (46 saves) on Feb. 10, 2009. Steve Sullivan – Racked up a career-high 22 penalty minutes on April 10, 2002 (with Chicago). Shea Weber – Played his first NHL game on Jan. 6, 2006 (3-1 Detroit win). QUICK HITS
Nashville’s power play has at least one goal in nine of the last 13 games. In that span, the unit has gone 12-for-56 (21.4 percent), after starting the season by going 1-for-27 (3.7 percent) in its first eight outings of 2009-10. During a current stretch of four games with a PPG, Nashville is 6-for-20 (30 percent) while a man up. The Predators are 10-0-0 when they score a man-advantage goal… The Predators penalty killers have extinguished 28-of-32 opportunities against (87.5 percent) since Nov. 7, moving the PK unit from 27th in the NHL’s PK rankings on Oct. 29, to 16th… Special teams have scored each of Nashville’s last four goals, and seven of the last 10 dating back to the third period vs. Montreal on Nov. 14… The Predators have scored five first-period goals in the last four games after scoring four first-period goals in the previous eight games… Nashville is tops in the NHL in fewest penalty minutes per game (8.6), and have been shorthanded the second-fewest times (69, 3.3 per game)… The Predators are 12-2-1 when scoring more than one goal, and 8-1-0 when scoring the first goal of the game, the League’s second-best winning percent (.893) in that situation… All 12 of Nashville’s wins have been decided by two goals or fewer. Of the 12, seven of the wins have been by one goal, and two have been by two goals with one being an empty netter. PLAYER QUICK HITS
After starting the season with just one assist in his first 10 games, David Legwand now has nine points (3g-6a) in his last 11 games, including six points (3g-3a) in his last five outings… Jason Arnott’s goal on Saturday was his 94th as a Predator, moving him past Scott Hartnell and Greg Johnson into sole possession of fourth on the franchise’s all-time list… Steve Sullivan’s assist on Arnott’s goal was his 200th point as a Predator (78g-122a)… J.P. Dumont ranks 11th in the League in assists per game (.86)… Patric Hornqvist ranks among the NHL’s top 15 in shots (73), and has all 10 of his points (5g-5a) at even strength.
OLYMPIC D-MEN ABOUND
The Predators and Red Wings organizations have two of the NHL’s top defensive corps, and should be well represented at the 2010 Olympics this February in Vancouver. Among the combined 14 blueliners on the teams’ current rosters, eight could represent their countries. For Nashville, Ryan Suter (USA), Shea Weber (Canada), Dan Hamhuis (Canada) and Alex Sulzer (Germany) are all candidates, while Detroit has potential Olympians Niklas Kronwall (Sweden), Jonathan Ericsson (Sweden), Nicklas Lidstrom (Sweden) and Brian Rafalski (USA).
DUMONT-ARNOTT-SULLIVAN LINE PRODUCES WINS
Injuries kept Nashville’s top line from being united for any length of time in the first 16 games of 2009-10, but since spending their first full game together on Nov. 12 at St. Louis, the trio of J.P. Dumont, Jason Arnott and Steve Sullivan has gotten rolling offensively, helping the club to a 5-0-0 record in that span. Arnott scored his team-leading sixth goal of the season on Saturday vs. Columbus, giving him three goals in the last two games after being held without one in the previous nine. Five of Arnott’s six goals have come on home ice. Sullivan assisted on the marker, giving him points (3g-2a) in four straight games, the longest by a Predator this season. Seven (4g-3a) of Sullivan’s 10 points (5g-5a) have come at the Sommet Center. Dumont leads the team in points (3g-12a) despite playing in only 14 of Nashville’s 21 games, and has four assists in his last four contests.
RINNE POSTS STINGY NUMBERS, WINS AGAIN Pekka Rinne has picked up the win in each of Nashville’s last five games, and is 9-1-0 in his last 10 appearances. Since an Oct. 28 shutout at Minnesota, the 258th overall selection in the 2004 Entry Draft has eight wins – which is tied with San Jose’s Evgeni Nabokov for first in the League in that span – to go with a 1.71 goals-against average and a .931 save percentage. The Kempele, Finland native also has two shutouts in that stretch, and nine whitewashes since Dec. 1, 2008, tied with Nabokov for the most since then.
HIGH TOTALS ON THE SHOT CLOCK
With 48 shots on Columbus in Saturday’s win, Nashville has now put 40-or-more shots on goal four times in 21 games in 2009-10. One season ago, it reached the 40-shot mark just four times in 82 games. In the last five games, Nashville has posted two of the franchise’s five highest shot totals, outshooting the opposition 199-131 in that span (average of 40-26). Additionally, the Predators have held opponents under 30 shots in nine of the last 11 outings.