TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. COLORADO
The Predators visit Denver for the first time in 2009-10 tonight, the second of four meetings between the clubs this season. In Nashville’s home opener on Oct. 8, it rallied from a 2-1 deficit in the final eight minutes of regulation to claim a 3-2 victory. Patric Hornqvist scored both the game-tying (at 12:31 of the third) and game-winning goals (14:48) as part of a career-high three-point game for the second-year Swede. Ryan Suter assists on both of Hornqvist’s goals, while Jason Arnott also posted a pair of points (1g-1a) and a personal season-high eight shots on net. Nashville outshot the Avalanche 37-24, and Dan Ellis picked up the victory with 22 saves. The Predators dropped both their trips to the Pepsi Center one season ago, but had posted a 1-1-0 record in each of the three previous seasons, and are 5-5-0 in their last 10 road games against Colorado.
All-time series highlights: Both the first Predators hat trick, and the first hat trick by an opponent in Sommet Center history came against the Avalanche. On Feb. 19, 1999, recently retired legend Joe Sakic scored a second-period goal, and two goals in the final six minutes of regulation in a 4-4 tie. On the day after Christmas in 2000, Scott Walker scored the game’s opening goal on the power play, an even-strength goal at 13:45 of the third, then an empty-net shorthanded marker with 15 seconds left in regulation to cap off his three-goal night in a 5-2 victory.
The Nashville Predators are 2-0-1 all-time in games played on November 25. The Preds picked up home wins against Calgary (4-3 in 1998) and Detroit (6-2 in 2006). Last season Nashville suffered a 1-0 shootout loss at home to St. Louis in one of the most entertaining games of the season. The Preds out-shot the Blues 47-17, inlcluding an astounding 9-1 margin during overtime.
Arnott has an even 20 goals, to go along with 17 assists, in 50 career games against Colorado… J.P. Dumont missed the home opener, and will make his first 2009-10 appearance against the Avalanche tonight. He has 20 points (4g-14a) in 22 career games against them… Since joining the Predators, Steve Sullivan has eight points (4g-4a) in eight games against Colorado. Tonight will be his first game at the Pepsi Center since posting a goal and an assist on Jan. 30, 2007… In three career games against Colorado, Ellis as a 2-1-0 record with a 1.01 goals-against average and a .963 save percentage.
Career highs/highlights attained against the Avalanche
Jason Arnott – Notched his fourth career hat trick on Feb. 20, 2004 (with Dallas). Jerred Smithson – Played his first NHL game on Dec. 29, 2002 (with Los Angeles). TEAM QUICK HITS
The Predators are 13-2-1 when scoring more than one goal, and 9-1-0 when scoring the first goal of the game, the League’s second-best winning percent (.900) in that situation… The Predators have the league’s fourth-best winning percentage (7-4-0, .636) when outshooting the opposition… Nashville is tops in the NHL in fewest penalty minutes per game (8.4). It was shorthanded just twice for the fourth time in five games, and the ninth time this season on Monday, and have been shorthanded the second-fewest times (71, 3.2 per game)… The Predators have scored a goal in five consecutive first periods, with six opening-marker goals in that span. Prior to the current stretch, they had four first-period goals in the previous eight games… Nashville has allowed just five second-period tallies in the last 11 games, and is tied for fifth in the NHL in fewest middle-frame goals allowed (19)… 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.
STREAKS IN PERSPECTIVE
Nashville has won six consecutive games dating back to a Nov. 12 victory at St. Louis, which is tied for second in franchise history to an eight-game streak at the start of the 2005-06 season (Oct. 5-25). Nashville last won six straight in game Nos. 60-65 of last season (Feb. 21-March 5). The Predators have also picked up the win in seven straight home games dating back to a 2-0 shutout of Chicago on Oct. 29. That is also tied for second in club history, bested only by an eight-game stretch from Jan. 6-Feb. 8, 2007, and is tied for the longest streak in the NHL this season with an active seven-game winning streak by Chicago. The Predators are 8-3-0 on home ice, tied for the second-most wins in the League.
SPECIAL TEAMS SERVE AS CATALYST IN WINS
The Predators scored on the power play for the fifth consecutive game on Monday vs. Detroit, improving to 11-0-0 when they score a man-advantage goal. During a five-game homestand which ended with Monday’s win, Nashville went 8-for-24 (33.3 percent) on the power play – more goals than it had scored in its first 17 games of the season (seven on 63 advantages, 11.1 percent). The Predators power play has multiple power-play goals in its last two outings, the first time that has happened since Feb. 23, 2008 vs. Dallas (2) and Feb. 27 at Buffalo (2).
The penalty kill has also been performing admirably, and is perfect in six of Nashville’s last seven games. The PK has extinguished 30-of-34 opportunities against (88.2 percent) since Nov. 7, moving the the unit from 27th in the NHL’s PK rankings on Oct. 29, to 17th entering Tuesday’s games.
Special teams have scored six of Nashville’s last seven goals going back to the third period against New Jersey on Nov. 19, and nine of the last 13 going back to the third period against Montreal on Nov. 14.
RINNE’S HOT STREAK CONTINUES
For the third time in a career that is only 70 games old, Pekka Rinne has put together a six-game winning streak, which is second in Predators history only to a pair of seven-game streaks by Tomas Vokoun in 2003-04 and 2005-06. Rinne is 10-1-0 in his last 11 appearances dating back to Oct. 22, the most wins by an NHL netminder since that date. Going back to a winning relief appearance at Minnesota on Oct. 28, the 258th overall selection in the 2004 Entry Draft has appeared in nine of Nashville’s 11 games, posting a 1.64 goals-against average and a .938 save percentage in that span – second only in both categories to San Jose’s Evgeni Nabokov among goalies with at least three appearances. 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.
The stretch has moved Rinne to 11th or higher among League goaltenders in 2009-10 wins (10), goals-against average (2.29), save percentage (.918) and shutouts (2).
TROTZ MOVES UP GAMES COACHED LIST
By spending his 853rd game behind the Predators bench tonight in Colorado, head coach Barry Trotz will move past Glen Sather’s tenure with the Edmonton Oilers (1979-94), and into sole possession of seventh place on the games coached with a single franchise list. Sixth on the list is Montreal legend Dick Irvin (896, 1940-55). Earlier this month, Trotz moved past Punch Imlach (Toronto, 1958-69 and 1979-80) for seventh on the all-time wins with one team list, and currently has 377 victories. Next on the list is nine-time Stanley Cup winner Scotty Bowman’s tenure with Detroit from 1993-2002 (410). PLAYER QUICK HITS Steve Sullivan posted an assist for the third consecutive game (3a), and a point for the fifth consecutive contest (3g-3a) vs. Detroit, both highs by a Predator this season. The five-game total is one better than his output in the first 17 outings of the season (2g-3a)… Martin Erat notched his seventh multi-goal game on Monday vs. Detroit, and his first since Oct. 18, 2008 vs. Columbus to give him four points (3g-1a) in his last two games. He had four points (1g-3a) in his first 17 games of the season prior to the last two… Jason Arnott’s goal on Monday gave him tallies in three consecutive games (4a), the first time a Nashville player has done that all season. He has a team-leading seven goals, and his 95 goals in 228 games as a Predator is fourth in franchise history, just one behind third-place Scott Walker. Six of Arnott’s seven goals this season have come on home ice… After starting the season with just one assist in his first 10 games, David Legwand now has 10 points (3g-7a) in his last 12 games, including seven points (3g-4a) in his last six outings… Shea Weber has an assist in four of the last five games, moving him into the Top 20 among League defensemen in points (5g-8a-13pts).