TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. DETROIT
The Red Wings visit the Music City for the second time this season tonight. The teams will next meet Jan. 29 at Joe Louis Arena. Nashville won the first meeting of the clubs on Nov. 23, a 3-1 decision at the Sommet Center, behind a pair of goals by Martin Erat and a 30-save effort by Pekka Rinne. It was the Predators fourth consecutive victory over Detroit, its longest such streak against the Wings, in addition to being the sixth of seven straight wins for Nashville between Nov. 12-25. The four-game winning streak started with an 8-0 victory by the Predators on Feb. 28, 2009, which is the largest margin of victory in franchise history. It continued with a 4-3 on March 29 at Joe Louis Arena, and 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. Nashville is 6-3-1 in its last 10 games against Detroit, including a 4-2-0 mark in 2008-09 – its best-ever season record against this Wings. Nashville’s power play has especially effective against the Red Wings in the last seven games, going 9-for-27 (33.3 percent) in that span – the unit scored twice on four attempts on Nov. 23. The Predators are an even 15-15-(2)-0 at home against the Wings all-time, and has done no worse than split the home portion of the series for the past three seasons.
Tonight marks the sixth time the Preds have played a game on December 12. Nashville's 2-0-0 with three ties in its first five Dec. 12 appearances. The Preds have allowed exactly two goals in all five previous Dec. 12, including the three 2-2 ties -- vs. Montreal in 1998, vs. Philadelphia in 2000, and vs. St. Louis in 2002. Nashville picked up wins at the NY Rangers in 2001 (4-2) and mast recently vs. the Edmonton Oilers in 2006 (3-2).
Jason Arnott has been effective of late against Detroit. He notched his eighth career hat trick in the Feb. 28 game, then pitched in a goal and an assist, in addition to posting his first career shootout-deciding marker, in the shootout win on April 9. He scored a power-play goal in the Nov. 23 game, giving him eight points (5g-3a) in his last six games against the Wings, and 14 points (6g-8a) in his last 14 games against them… Steve Sullivan assisted on Arnott’s goal on Nov. 23, giving him nine points (3g-6a) in six games since returning from injury in January. He has 18 points (6g-12a) in 17 games against Detroit as a Predator… Since the start of the 2007-08 season, J.P. Dumont has 15 points (3g-12a) in 15 games against Detroit… A native of Detroit, David Legwand has 31 points (11g-20a) in 46 career games against his hometown team… Rinne has won four-of-five career starts against Detroit, posting a 2.17 goals-against average and .936 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). TEAM QUICK HITS
Nashville is 15-5-1 in its last 21 games, and 3-1-1 in its last five games… The Predators are 18-11-2 (38 points) through 31 games in 2009-10, good for sixth place in the Western Conference. Through 31 contests a season ago, Nashville posted a 15-13-3 record (33 points), and was in eighth place… The Predators have scored four-or-more goals eight times in the last 13 games (including shootout winners). Prior to the current stretch, they had just three four-or-more goal games in the first 18 contests of 2009-10... Including shootout winners, the Predators have scored 42 goals in the last 13 games, and average of 3.23 goals per game. In the first 18 games, Nashville scored just 39 times, an average of 2.17 goals per game… Nashville is 18-3-2 when scoring more than one goal, and 13-2-1 when scoring the first goal of the game, tied for the League’s fifth-best winning percent (.813) in that situation… Nashville is 16-7-2 in games decided by two goals or less. Its 9-3-2 record in one-goal games in sixth best in the NHL, while Nashville is tied with Atlanta for the most wins in two-goal games (7)… The Predators are 10-4-1 when outshooting its foe, the League’s fourth-best record in that situation… The Predators have scored in the first period in 12 of their last 14 games (15 goals). They had just nine first-frame goals in their first 17 games of the season. Additionally, Nashville has given up just six first-frame markers in the last 10 games... The Predators power play has gone 3-for-13 in the last three games after an 0-for-16 stretch over the previous five games. Nashville is 13-1-0 when scoring on the power play… The Predators are averaging the second-fewest penalty minutes per game (9.0), and have been shorthanded the third-fewest times in the League (98, 3.16 per game).
The Predators improved to 4-1 in games decided in a shootout with Thursday’s win, and have won six-of-seven shootout-decided games since April. The Predators converted three attempts during the five-round shootout vs. Columbus, the second-most shootout tallies in franchise history, and the most since notching four goals in a franchise-record six-round shootout on March 21, 2006 at Detroit. Nashville shooters are 9-for-18 (50 percent) this season, after going 12-for-33 (36.36 percent) a season ago. Four different players have the shootout-deciding goals, while all six players who have had their name called in the shootout have scored. In net, Pekka Rinne improved to 3-0 on Thursday, and 8-2 in the breakaway competition for his career. In those 10 games, he’s stopped 26-of-35 shooters (74.29 percent) PLAYER QUICK HITS
Jason Arnott has points in three consecutive games (2g-2a), seven points (4g-3a) in his last five games, and 14 points (8g-6a) in his last 12 outings… Ryan Suter has four assists in his last four games. He’s tied for fifth among U.S.-born defensemen in points (2g-13a), and his average ice time of 24:09 is fourth among American players… Jordin Tootoo has seven points (1g-6a) in his last 10 games, the most productive 10-game stretch of his career. Tootoo (2g-7a) and Dan Hamhuis (2g-7a) have each notched all nine of their points at even strength… Steve Sullivan also has six points (1g-5a) in his last five outings, in addition to 13 points (4g-9a) in his last 14 games. In his previous 15 games, he had three points (1g-2a)… David Legwand has 11 points (4g-7a) in his last 13 games. The club is 4-0-0 this season when he scores, and 16-4-1 this season when he skates 19:00-or-more.
ERAT STAYS HOT
One game after recording his second career hat trick and tying a personal best with four points in a 4-2 win vs. Vancouver on Tuesday, Martin Erat extended his goal streak to four games on Thursday, tying a career high set Nov. 2-10, 2005. Erat has six goals during the current stretch, in addition to posting points in five consecutive games (6g-3a) dating back to Dec. 2 at Minnesota. Entering Friday’s games, his six goals in the month of December led the league, and his nine points this month was second only to Vancouver’s Henrik Sedin (10a). Additionally, Nashville’s 12th choice, 191st overall (seventh round), in the 1999 Entry Draft has 14 points (9g-5a) in his last 11 games after posting just four points (1g-3a) in 17 games this season prior to the current 11-game stretch. Going back to Nov. 21 – the start of the current hot streak, his nine goals are second only to Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby (10), and his 14 points fall behind only Crosby’s 16. Nine of the Trebic, Czech Republic native’s 10 goals this season have come on home ice, while six of his eight assists in 2009-10 have come on the road. Erat has scored five of Nashville’s last nine goals overall, and four of the team’s last eight power-play goals after registering just one assist on the club’s first 12 man-advantage goals of the season.