TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. CHICAGO
Nashville hosts Chicago for the third and final time during the 2009-10 regular season tonight, with the season series’ final matchup coming tomorrow in the Windy City. The Predators have won the last two meetings of the teams – one at home and one on the road – after dropping the first two games of the season series. Last time the Preds and Hawks clashed on Dec. 4 at the United Center, Nashville claimed a 4-1 victory, scoring four straight after relinquishing the game’s first goal. Dan Hamhuis, Martin Erat and Jordin Tootoo all has a goal and an assist to lead the way offensively, while Dan Ellis stopped 34-of-35 Blackhawk shots. The Predators also won Chicago’s last trip to the Music City, a 2-0 rout on Oct. 29. That night at the Sommet Center, Pekka Rinne made 22 saves in the whitewash, and Joel Ward (power play) and Jerred Smithson (shorthanded) provided the offense with special teams goals. Chicago’s wins came by two goals each –a 3-1 win in Nashville on Oct. 15 and a 2-0 decision at the UC on Oct. 24. Nashville has posted a 18-13-3 record against Chicago since the start of the 2005-06 season, with 10 of those victories coming on home ice. The 67 all-time meetings between the clubs is fairly even, with Nashville holding a 31-29-7 record. Nashville has held Chicago to three goals or fewer in 11 of the last 12 meetings dating back to March 22, 2008. In that span, Nashville goaltenders Dan Ellis, Chris Mason and Pekka Rinne have posted a 1.91 save percentage and a .936 save percentage.
Martin Erat leads the team in points against Chicago this season with three (2g-1a) in three games. He has eight points (3g-5a) in his last six games against Chicago… Besides Erat, Joel Ward is the only other Predator with multiple goals against Chicago this season (2). Erat and Ward have Nashville’s two game-winners against the Hawks in 2009-10… David Legwand has picked up more goals (18), assists (27) and points (45) against Chicago, than any other player in franchise history against any other team. He has six points (3g-3a) in his last seven games against the Hawks… As a Predator, Sullivan has 22 points (7g-15a) in 24 games against the team that traded him to Nashville on Feb. 16, 2004. On Jan. 10, 2009, after nearly two years on the sidelines with a back injury, Steve Sullivan returned to the Predators lineup against the Blackhawks and played 41 of the club’s final 42 games. The comeback earned him the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, which goes “to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey,” making him the first player in franchise history to win an NHL award … J.P. Dumont started his career as a Blackhawk, posting 33 points (19g-14a) in 72 games from 1998-2000, before being traded to Buffalo on March 10, 2000. He has 23 points (6g-17a) in 31 career games against Chicago.
Tonight marks the 10th time in franchise history that the Preds have played a game on December 26, with a 6-3-0 mark in the first nine appearances on this date. The only season the Preds have not played a game on Dec. 26 was in 2005-06. Nashville posted wins in their first three seasons on the date of Dec. 26; home against Washington 3-1 in 1998, on the road at St. Louis 3-2 in 1999, and home against Colorado in 2000, 5-2. The Predators were shut out by Tampa Bay in 2001, 1-0 before bouncing back in 2002 with a home win to Dallas, 3-1. Nashville then fell to Dallas in 2003, 2-1. The Preds have won two of their last three Dec. 26 appearances, with a 3-2 shootout win vs. St. Louis in '06, a 5-2 loss to Chicago in '07, and a 3-2 regulation win vs. Detroit in '08. Last year Dan Ellis made 38 saves and Martin Erat picked up a pair of assists to pave the way for the Preds win.
Career highs/highlights attained against the Blackhawks
Jason Arnott – First game as a Predator on Oct. 5, 2006. First goal as a Predator on Oct. 12, 2006 on Nikolai Khabibulin.
J.P. Dumont – First game and goal (on Khabibulin) as a Predator on Oct. 5, 2006. David Legwand – Most points (3g-1a) in a game and first career hat trick on Jan. 20, 2007. Kevin Klein – First NHL goal on Jan. 26, 2007 against Khabibulin. Pekka Rinne – First NHL game and win on Dec. 15, 2005. Ryan Suter – First NHL goal on Dec. 21, 2005 against Khabibulin. TEAM QUICK HITS
This is the club’s seventh of 15 back-to-back sets in 2009-10. So far, they are 3-3-0 on the front end and 4-2-0 on the back end… Nashville is 6-1-1 in its last eight games and 19-6-2 in 27 games since Oct. 28… The Predators currently sit at 22-12-3 (47 points) for the season, which is five wins/10 points ahead of last season’s 37-game record (17-17-3), and five wins/11 points ahead of the pace set by its 2007-08 playoff team (17-18-2). It is the third-best 37-game start in franchise history behind the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons (24-9-3, 51 points both seasons)… The Predators are 7-3-1 against intra-divisional foes this season, including a 4-2-1 mark on home ice… Tonight is Nashville’s only home game between Dec. 17 and Dec. 31. It plays six-of-seven on the road in that span… The Predators have scored five-or-more goals in four of the last five games, outscoring the opposition 24-17 in that span… Additionally, the Predators have scored a goal in 15 of their last 17 regulation periods… Including three shootout winners, the Predators have scored 68 goals in the last 19 games, an average of 3.58 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 19 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 is eighth in the League in even-strength goals (74), and ninth in five-on-five goals (70) after sitting 28th-or-lower in these categories after the first month of the season… Nashville has scored in the first period 16 of the last 20 games (22 goals) and in nine of the last 11 (13 goals)… The Predators have scored in seven-of-eight second periods (15)… 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.
HORNQVIST STAYS HOT
On the heels of being named the NHL’s Third Star of the Week, Patric Hornqvist scored his 11th goal of the season on Tuesday, extending his current point streak to a career-high five games. Since the start of last week (Dec. 14) – which also coincided with the first game of the current streak, Hornqvist is tied with Florida’s Nathan Horton and Atlanta’s Nik Antropov and Montreal’s Andrei Kostitsyn for first in the League in goals with five. His eight points in the nearly two-week period is tied for fifth while playing at least one fewer game than everyone above him on the list.
The final pick of the 2005 Entry Draft (230th overall), Hornqvist’s numbers are putting him in contention for a spot on the Swedish team at the 2010 Olympics – the team will be named tomorrow. The Sollentuna native’s 11 goals tie him for sixth among Swedish NHLers, while his 18 points are good for fourth among Swedish-born right wingers. Hornqvist’s plus-seven rating ranks fourth among Swedish forwards, while his four game-winning goals not only ties him for first among Swedes, but is good for fourth in the entire League (fourth). Seventeen (9g-8a) of Hornqvist’s 19 points (11g-8a) this season have come at even strength.
GOC POISED FOR A CAREER YEAR
With an assist on Patric Hornqvist’s goal on Tuesday at Vancouver, Marcel Goc now has points (2g-5a) in a career-best four consecutive games. The Calw, Germany native now has 13 points this season (6g-7a), tied for the second highest total of his career (5g-8a in 2006-07), and trailing only the 22 points he recorded in 2005-06 (8g-14a). The first-year Predator has 10 points (4g-6a) in his last 11 outings after posting three points (2g-1a) in his first 24 contests of 2009-10. All 13 of Goc’s points have come at even strength, while 10 of his 13 points have come on the road. He has points in seven of his last eight road games (5g-4a). PLAYER QUICK HITS Martin Erat (2g-4a), David Legwand (2g-4a) and Joel Ward (1g-5a) each have six points in their last five games. Erat has points in nine of Nashville’s 11 December games. His eight goals this month is tied for third in the League this month, while his 15 points (8g-7a) is good for fifth (tie). Erat is tied for the team in points (24) and is in sole possession of the goals lead (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-of-six games (3g-4a). He also has 18 points (7g-11a) in his last 19 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 20-5-2 this season when he skates 19:00-or-more… The team is 13-0-0 this season when Ward registers a point, and 16-2-2 since the start of last season when he registers a point... Steve Sullivan has 11 points (4g-7a) in his last 11 games and 18 points (7g-11a) in his last 20 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 17 games played… J.P. Dumont has four points (1g-3a) in his last four games… Pekka Rinne has earned a point in his last five decisions (3-0-2). He is 15-7-2 in his career vs. Central Division opponents, including 5-1-1 this season. Dating back to last season, he’s is 13-3-2 in his last 18 decisions vs. division opponents (.778 pts percentage).