TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. TAMPA BAY The Predators and Lightning clash for the first and only time this season tonight at the Sommet Center, Tampa Bay’s first trip to Nashville since earning a 2-1 overtime decision on Feb. 8, 2008 – the team’s only trip to the Music City since 2003-04. In 2008-09, the clubs met just once as well, with T.B. coming away with a 4-1 victory at St. Pete Times Forum – Jordin Tootoo scored the lone Predators goal. Nashville outshot Tampa Bay 35-24 in the game, and went 0-for-7 with the man advantage. Nashville last defeated Tampa Bay on Jan. 25, 2003 at the Sommet Center when it rallied from two goals down to pick up a 3-2 win. Denis Arkhipov, Scott Walker and Adam Hall provided the offense. David Legwand is the only Predator still on the team that suited up for that game. This is the 14th all-time meeting of the clubs, with the Predators posting a 3-7-(2)-1 record in the previous 13 matchups.
All-time series highlight: On March 24, 1999, Mike Dunham made 27 saves to notch his first shutout as a Predator, and Nashville’s first-ever whitewash on the road. Nashville received first-period goals from Sergei Krivokrasov and Patrick Cote, and a third-period marker from Greg Johnson – who assisted on the other two Predator goals – in the 3-0 victory.
Jason Arnott has the most career points against the Lightning among active Predators with 17 (7g-10a) in 27 contests… Dave Scatchard has the best point-per-game ratio among active Predators (.73, 6g-10a in 22 gms) against the Lightning… Predators color commentator Terry Crisp was the first-ever coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning, guiding them to a 286-267-78 record between 1992-97. Crisp held the distinction of the most games coached with an expansion franchise (391), until Nashville’s first and only head coach – Barry Trotz – spent his 392nd game behind the bench on March 1, 2003. Tonight will be Trotz’s 854th game with Nashville.
The Nashville Predators are 2-2-0 all-time in games played on December 15, including a 2-0-0 mark at home. The Preds lost in a 3-2 decision at the Florida Panthers in 1999. Nashville then went on to post a pair of home wins over the Chicago Blackhawks, 5-2 in 2001 and 5-3 in 2005. On Dec. 15, 2007 the Predators lost in Colorado 3-1.
Career highs/highlights attained against the Lightning
Dave Scatchard – Second career hat trick/career-high four points on Feb. 11, 2003 vs. Tampa Bay (with NYI). TEAM QUICK HITS
Nashville plays seven of nine games on the road between Dec. 14 and Dec. 31 after being at home for 12-of-15 games between Nov. 14 and Dec. 12… Nashville improved to 3-3-0 on the front end of back-to-back sets last night, and is 3-2-0 on the back end… Nashville is 4-2-1 against the Eastern Conference and 1-0-1 against the Southeast Division… Nashville is 16-5-2 in its last 23 games, and 4-1-1 in its last six games… Including shootout winners, the Predators have scored 49 goals in the last 15 games, an average of 3.27 goals per game. In the first 18 games of 2009-10, Nashville scored just 39 times, an average of 2.17 goals per game… The Predators have scored four-or-more goals nine times in the last 15 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... Nashville has scored in the first period 13 of the last 16 games (16 goals). It has also notched a goal in six of the last seven games (nine goals)… Nashville is 13-1-1 when scoring on the power play, 19-3-3 when scoring more than one goal, and 14-2-1 when scoring the first goal of the game – tied for the League’s fifth-best winning percent (.824) in that situation… Nashville is 17-7-3 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 tops in the League in two-goal game victories (8)… The Predators are 11-4-2 when outshooting its foe, tied the League’s third-best record in that situation… Nashville also has the League’s third-best record when leading after one period (10-1-0), and is one of just six teams to be perfect when leading after two periods (11-0-0)… The Predators are averaging the second-fewest penalty minutes per game (9.2), and rank among the league leaders in fewest times shorthanded (110, 3.33 per game).
SULLIVAN NOTCHES SEVENTH CAREER HAT TRICK Steve Sullivan posted his seventh career hat trick in last night’s 5-3 win at Columbus – three years to the day since his previous hat trick when he scored the fastest three goals by an individual in franchise history on Dec. 14, 2006 vs. Ottawa (5:56). Paired with Martin Erat’s hat trick last Tuesday vs. Vancouver, it gives the Predators two three-goal games in a span of six days – by far the closest two hat tricks in franchise history (passing Vladimir Orszagh’s on Nov. 29, 2003 vs. Buffalo and Scott Walker’s on Dec. 22, 2003 vs. Phoenix which came in a span of 24 days) – and makes 2009-10 the fifth season Nashville has had multiple hat tricks in a campaign. It is Sullivan’s fourth hat trick as a Predator, the most by an individual in club history.
Sullivan now has 10 points (4g-6a) in his last seven games, and 15 points (5g-10a) in his last 16 games after starting the season with five points (2g-3a) in the club’s first 17 games of 2009-10.
KLEIN SEES ICE TIME SPIKE Kevin Klein has seen his ice time sky rocket in 2009-10, averaging nearly eight minutes more per game than he did a season ago. Nashville’s third selection, 37th overall (second round) in the 2003 Entry Draft – one of four defensemen selected by the Predators in that draft held at the Sommet Center (along with Ryan Suter, Shea Weber and Alexander Sulzer) – is ranked fourth on the club in average ice time at 20:33 per game after playing 12:39 a season ago. Among skaters who played more than 60 games last season and have played more than 25 games this season, he’s the only one with an increase of at least 5:00 per game. Entering tonight’s game, the Kitchener, Ont., native has logged more than 20 minutes in 20-of-33 games this season. Prior to 2009-10, he had played more than 20 minutes in a game just twice in 81 career contests. Klein also paces the Predators and is among the League’s top 20 in blocked shots after blocking seven on Saturday against Detroit – the highest single-game total by a Predator this season. Additionally, the 6-1, 201-pound blueliner is one of three players to appear in all 79 Predators games during the 2009 calendar year (with Suter and Jerred Smithson). PLAYER QUICK HITS
With an assist last night, Martin Erat has 10 points (6g-4a) in his last seven games. The hot streak includes his second career hat trick and third career four-point game (Dec. 8 vs. Vancouver). Since posting a goal and an assist on Nov. 21, he has nine goals, and 15 points (9g-6a) in 13 games. Prior to the current 13-game stretch, Erat had four points (1g-3a) in 17 games. He ranks second on the team with 10 goals – nine of which he has scored on home ice. Of his nine assists this season, eight have come on the road… Ryan Jones has goals in back-to-back games for the first time in his career. It is also just the second time he’s put up points in back-to-back contests (2g-1a) – the other came Jan. 6-8, 2009… Dan Hamhuis registered an assist last game to give him five points (2g-3a) in his last nine games – doubling his output from his first 20 games of 2009-10 (5a)… Kevin Klein has three assists in the last three games, and five helpers in the last nine contests after putting up 11 assists in the first 105 games of his career… David Legwand has points (1g-1a) in back-to-back games, and 13 points (5g-8a) in his last 15 games after starting the season with five points in the team’s first 18 contests of 2009-10. The club is 4-0-1 this season when he scores, and 17-4-2 this season when he skates 19:00-or-more… Jason Arnott has seven points (4g-3a) in the last seven games and 14 points (8g-6a) in his last 14 games. He has eight of his team-leading 11 goals on home ice… Pekka Rinne has points (2-0-2 record) in each of his last four starts, and has a 13-3-2 record in his last 18 decisions.