TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. VANCOUVER
The Predators visit GM Place for the first time in 2009-10 tonight when they play the Canucks for the second time in two weeks. In the first meeting of the season on Dec. 8, Martin Erat notched one goal in each period to post his second career hat trick, in addition to assisting on Nashville’s other goal by Patric Hornqvist to tie a career high in points as the Predators won 4-2 at the Sommet Center. Jason Arnott and Steve Sullivan both picked up a pair of assists, while Pekka Rinne stopped 34-of-36 shots in the win. It was Nashville’s second straight win over the Canucks after dropping six straight between Dec. 6, 2007 and Jan. 1, 2009. The first of those wins was in the Predators last trip to Vancouver – on Jan. 28, 2009. Nashville took that game by a 5-3 decision behind three power-play goals. The game also saw the Predators rally from a 3-1 deficit late in the second period and early in the third frame for what was the first of five wins in a six-game span from Jan. 28-Feb. 6. Nashville has split its two games in Vancouver in each of the past four seasons, posting a 4-4-0 record in those games. Overall, Nashville has gone 8-7-2 against the Canucks since the start of the 2005-06 season.
With his four-point outing 14 days ago, Erat now has seven points (4g-3a) in his last five games against the Canucks… Since joining the Predators, Sullivan has 10 points (3g-7a) in nine games against Vancouver… Dave Scatchard was drafted 42nd overall (second round) by the Canucks in the 1994 Entry Draft, and spent his first two-and-a-half NHL seasons with the club (1997-99), notching 54 points (26g-28a) in 179 games before being traded to the New York Islanders, along with Kevin Weekes and Bill Muckalt, for Felix Potvin and draft picks on Dec. 19, 1999.
The Nashville Predators are 1-0-0 with one tie in two all-time in games played on December 22. The Preds posted a 3-3 overtime tie vs. Phoenix on Dec. 22, 2003. On Dec. 22, 2007, Jason Arnott netted his first hat trick as a member of the Preds in a 4-3 home win over Los Angeles.
TEAM QUICK HITS
Nashville is 6-3-1 against the Northwest Division this season, including a 4-0-1 mark against the Northwest on the road. A season ago, the Predators went 7-13-0 against the Northwest with a 3-7-0 record on the road… 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. 14… Nashville has scored 18 game-winning goals this season, with the average age of the goal scorer being 27 years, 8 months. Seven have been scored by players under 25, while 13 have come from players under 30… Nashville is 14-1-1 when scoring on the power play, 22-3-3 when scoring more than one goal, and 16-2-1 when scoring the first goal of the game – tied for the League’s third-best winning percent (.892) in that situation… The Predators are 12-4-2 when outshooting its foe, tied the League’s fourth-best record in that situation… Nashville is 19-7-3 in games decided by two goals or less, including a league-best nine victories in two-goal games… Nashville also has the League’s third-best record when leading after one period (12-1-0), and is one of just six teams to be perfect when leading after two periods (13-0-0). The Predators are also 8-3-2 when tied after 40 minutes.
PREDATORS CONTINUE WINNING WAYS
With its 5-3 victory at Calgary on Saturday, Nashville improved to 6-0-1 in its last seven games overall, and 6-0-1 in its last seven road games dating back to Nov. 12 at St. Louis to tie the franchise record for most consecutive road wins with a points (Oct. 16-Nov. 4, 2006 (7-0-0)). Nashville’s four straight road victories is only surpassed in club history by that seven game winning streak – this is the fourth time Nashville has won four-or-more straight road games. Additionally, this is the second time this season Nashville has garnered points in seven straight games (the other coming Nov. 12-25, 7-0-0). The Predators enter the week of Dec. 21 with a 22-11-3 record (47 points) thanks to a 19-5-2 record in their last 26 games – their point total and win total are both tied for second in the Western Conference. Nashville is five wins/10 points ahead of last season’s 36-game record (17-16-3), and five wins/11 points ahead of the pace set by its 2007-08 playoff team (17-17-2). It is the third-best 36-game start in franchise history behind the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons (24-9-3, 51 points both seasons).
Nashville has scored five-or-more goals in four consecutive games, tying a franchise record. The only other time it went four straight with at least five goals each time out came Feb. 23-March 1, 2003 (Feb. 23 at Toronto, 5-0; Feb. 25 vs. Columbus, 5-0; Feb. 27 vs. Pittsburgh, 6-0; March 3 at Chicago, 5-4 OT). Nashville has outscored the opposition 23-13 in the last four games… The Predators have goals in 14 consecutive regulation periods dating back to the second period against Detroit on Dec. 12. According to Elias Sports Bureau, that is the longest such streak in the NHL this season, as well as a club record. The previous team record was 11 consecutive periods (Feb. 24-Mar. 3, 2009 and Feb. 23-Mar. 1, 2003). The last time a team scored goals in 14 consecutive regulation periods was the Buffalo Sabres last season from Dec. 13-22, 2008. The last team to score goals in more than 14 consecutive regulation periods was the Detroit Red Wings with a string of 18 from Oct. 18-29, 2008.
Including three shootout winners, the Predators have scored 67 goals in the last 18 games, an average of 3.72 goals per game. In the first 18 games of 2009-10, Nashville scored just 40 times (including one shootout winner), an average of 2.22 goals per game. The Predators have scored four-or-more goals 12 times in the last 18 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.
Since Nov. 27 (13-game span), Nashville has scored 43 of its 48 goals (excluding shootouts) at even strength (89.6 percent), including 27 of its last 29 since the last time the club faced Vancouver. Nashville is tied for fifth in the League in even-strength goals (73), tied for seventh in five-on-five goals (69) and is 11th in five-on-five goals ratio (1.10)… Nashville has scored in the first period 16 of the last 19 games (22 goals) and in nine of the last 10 (13 goals), giving it the eighth-most first-period markers in the League (31)… The Predators have scored in seven consecutive second periods, outscoring the opposition 15-9 in that span.
HORNQVIST NAMED NHL’S THIRD STAR OF THE WEEK
Predators sophomore forward Patric Hornqvist was named the NHL’s Third Star of the Week on Monday after tying for the League lead in both points (7) and goals for the week ending Dec. 20. Hornqvist notched a point in all four Nashville victories, tying a career high for consecutive games with a point, while a three-game goal streak (Dec. 14-17) was a personal best. The Sollentuna, Sweden native scored one goal in Nashville’s 5-3 win at Columbus on Monday, notched a goal and an assist the following night in a 7-4 victory at home against the Tampa Bay Lightning, tied a career high with two goals and three points in a 6-3 victory at Edmonton on Thursday, and completed the week with an assist in a 5-3 win at Calgary on Saturday.
The final pick of the 2005 Entry Draft (230th overall), Hornqvist had both the game-tying and game-winning goals in the Edmonton game, giving him four game-winning goals, which is tied for third in the NHL and is best on his club. Sixteen (8g-8a) of Hornqvist’s 18 points (10g-8a) this season have come at even strength. PLAYER QUICK HITS
Nashville had five of the League’s top nine in points last week. After Hornqvist (4g-3a), Martin Erat (2g-4a), David Legwand (2g-4a), Marcel Goc (2g-4a) and Joel Ward (1g-5a) each had six points. Erat has points in nine of Nashville’s 10 December games. His 15 points (8g-7a) this month are second only to Vancouver’s Henrik Sedin (1g-15a), while his eight goals are second only to Florida’s Stephen Weiss (9). Since Nov. 21, Erat has 20 points (11g-9a) in 16 contests, with both his point and goal totals in that span being second to only Sidney Crosby (12g-10a). This after he had four points (1g-3a) in his first 17 games of 2009-10. Erat leads the team in points (24) and goals (12), with 10 of the 12 scores coming on home ice. Of his 12 assists this season, 11 have come on the road… Legwand has points in five straight games (3g-4a), tying a career high which he’s hit four times, including twice in the last three weeks. He has 18 points (7g-11a) in his last 18 games after starting the season with five points in the team’s first 18 contests of 2009-10. The club is 6-0-1 this season when he scores, and 20-4-2 this season when he skates 19:00-or-more… With a career-high three points (1g-2a) on Saturday, Goc has 10 points (5g-5a) in his last 14 games after posting two points (1g-1a) in his first 20 outings of 2009-10. His 12 points (6g-6a) in 34 games are already his highest total since producing 13 points (5g-8a) in 78 games in 2006-07, and his six goals are the highest total since he hit the net eight times in his 81-game rookie season in 2005-06... Ward has three consecutive multi-point games. The team is 13-0-0 this season when he registers a point, and 16-2-2 since the start of last season when he scores a goal.
Jerred Smithson has a career-high three-game point streak (2g-1a). His six goals this season are just one shy of a career high set in 2007-08… Ryan Suter has seven assists in his last nine games, and led the League in plus/minus rating last week (+7), while Ryan Jones has five points (4g-1a) in his last five games after being held pointless in his first 12 games of 2009-10… Steve Sullivan has 11 points (4g-7a) in his last 10 games and 18 points (7g-11a) in his last 19 games after starting the season with five points (2g-3a) in the club’s first 17 games of 2009-10…Jason Arnott has 16 points (8g-8a) in his last 16 games played… Cody Franson has four points (1g-3a) in his last five games played. His plus-8 rating leads the team and is tied for third among rookie blueliners. He also ranks sixth among rookie d-men in points (3g-6a)… Pekka Rinne has earned a point in his last five decisions (3-0-2), while Dan Ellis is 5-1-0 with a 2.33 goals-against average and .924 save percentage since American Thanksgiving.