TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. ST. LOUIS
The Predators visit the Scottrade Center for the second time in 2009-10 tonight, the third of six games between these two Central Division foes this season. The last time the Predators came to St. Louis, on Nov. 12 – the last stop of a four-game trip that also saw it play all three California teams – Nashville scored three unanswered goals – including the game winner by Jordin Tootoo at 16:17 of the third period – in a 3-1 victory. Patric Hornqvist started the scoring in the second period, and David Legwand posted his first goal of the season with an empty netter. The Predators outshot the Blues 37-22 in the game, including a 19-7 margin in the second period. Pekka Rinne stopped 21-of-22 shots. The scripts were flipped two weeks later in the most recent matchup on Black Friday (Nov. 27), as the Blues came away with a 3-1 win. Dave Scatchard scored Nashville’s lone goal, his first since Dec. 12, 2006 (with Phoenix at Vancouver), a span of 23 months and 15 days.
Nashville is 3-1-1 in its last five games against the Bluenotes, and 23-6-3 in the series since the start of the 2005-06 season. In St. Louis’ home barn, the Preds have posted an even 4-4-0 record since the beginning of 2007-08, but are 11-5-0 since 2005. Four of the last seven meetings between the two clubs have needed overtime or a shootout to determine a winner, and the Predators have been to overtime/a shootout with St. Louis a club-record 18 times, going 9-5-4. The teams have played at least three overtime/shootout games in each of the past three seasons. Additionally, Nashville has not allowed a power-play goal to the Blues in five consecutive games, with the PK going 16-for-16 in that span.
All-time series highlight: Between Oct. 15, 2005 and Jan. 27, 2007, the Predators won a franchise-record 14 consecutive games against the Blues. During the streak, Nashville outscored St. Louis 47-20 (3.36-1.43 per game) despite being outshot 441-417 (31.5-29.8 per game) during the 14-game stretch.
Nashville is 1-5-0 all-time in games played on December 29. On Dec. 29, 2000 Nashville fell to the Avalanche in Colorado 3-1 before picking up an overtime win on home ice over Detroit in 2001, 3-2. Preds fell at San Jose in 2003 (5-2), at Dallas in 2006 (4-1), again vs. San Jose in 2007 (5-2), and vs. Colorado in 2008 (5-1).
David Legwand and Jordin Tootoo pace the team in points against St. Louis this season with a goal and an assist each. Legwand has played more games against St. Louis (52) than any other individual against any other team in franchise history… Kevin Klein has six goals in 120 career games, but four of them have come in 21 games against a pair of Central foes – St. Louis (2) and Chicago (2)… Steve Sullivan has 45 points (18g-27a) in 52 career games against the Blues to lead all Predators… Ryan Suter has more assists (13) against St. Louis than any other NHL team… Both Pekka Rinne and Dan Ellis have played six career games against St. Louis, and each have a shutout. Rinne has posted a 2.29 goals-against average and .921 save percentage, while Ellis has a 2.34 goals-against average.
Career highs/highlights attained against the Blues Francis Bouillon – Career-high 15 penalty minutes on Jan. 13, 2004. First career goal on Jan. 6, 2000 on Roman Turek.
Dan Ellis – First game as a Predator on Oct. 10, 2007.
Dan Hamhuis – First NHL goal on Oct. 16, 2003 on Chris Osgood. Patric Hornqvist – First NHL game on Oct. 10, 2008. Joel Ward – First NHL goal on Oct. 10, 2008 on Manny Legace. Shea Weber – First NHL goal on April 6, 2006 on Reinhard Divis. TEAM QUICK HITS
The Predators are 6-2-1 in their last eight road games, and 19-8-2 overall in 29 games since Oct. 28… The Predators currently sit at 22-14-3 (47 points) for the season, which is five wins/10 points ahead of last season’s 38-game record (17-19-3), and three wins/seven points ahead of the pace set by its 2007-08 playoff team (19-18-2)… The Predators scored in all three periods of a game for the fifth time in the last seven outings on Sunday, and have now scored at least once in 19 of their last 23 regulation periods… Including three shootout winners, the Predators have scored 73 goals in the last 21 games, an average of 3.48 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 13 times in the last 21 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 David Legwand scored the overtime game winner at Colorado on Nov. 25, Nashville has scored 50 of its 55 goals at even strength (90.9 percent). More recently, 29 of the club’s last 30 goals have come at even strength dating back to the third period of Nashville’s Dec. 12 game vs. Detroit (96.7 percent)… The Predators rank eighth in the League in even-strength markers (79), and seventh in five-on-five goals (75)… Nashville has scored in the first period 17 of the last 22 games (23 goals) and in 10 of the last 13 (14 goals)… The Predators have scored in nine-of-10 second periods (17), and in nine-of-11 third frames (16)… 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, 22-4-3 when scoring more than one goal, and 16-3-1 when scoring the first goal of the game – the League’s sixth-best winning percent (.800) in that situation… The Predators are 12-4-2 when outshooting its foe, tied the League’s fourth-best record in that situation… Nashville also has the League’s third-best record when leading after one period (12-1-0).
HORNQVIST LANDS SPOT ON SWEDISH NATIONAL TEAM
On Sunday, defending Olympic Gold Medalist Sweden announced its squad for the 2010 Games in Vancouver, and second-year Predators forward Patric Hornqvist was on of the 23 players chosen. Last week’s Third Star of the Week for the NHL, the Sollentuna native has eight points (5g-3a) in his last seven games, putting him 10th among Swedish NHL forwards in points (19), and sixth in goals (11). The final pick of the 2005 Entry Draft (230th overall), Hornqvist is also tied for first among Swedes – and tied for sixth in the entire League – in game-winning goals, in addition to being fourth among Swedish forwards in plus/minus rating (+7). Seventeen (9g-8a) of Hornqvist’s 19 points (11g-8a) this season have come at even strength.
ERAT TIES FRANCHISE SCORING MARK FOR A MONTH
With his 10th goal of December on Sunday at Chicago, forward Martin Erat – who leads the team in goals (14) and points (26) – tied Jason Arnott’s goal total from February 2009 for the most goals scored by a Predator in a single month. His goal total since Dec. 1 is tied with Florida’s Stephen Weiss and Montreal’s Andrei Kostitsyn for first in the League. A leading candidate for the Czech Olympic Team to be announced on Wednesday, Erat started the final month of 2009 with a career-high four-game goal streak (Dec. 4-10) which included his second career hat trick on Dec. 8 vs. Vancouver. Additionally, Erat has at least a point in 11 of Nashville’s 13 games this month, amassing 17 points (10g-7a), which is good for sixth in the NHL. Drafted 191st by the Predators in 1999, 11 of Erat’s 14 scores have come on home ice, while 11 of his 12 assists have come on the road.
GOC CONTINUES RUN Marcel Goc – expected to be named to the German Olympic Team on Wednesday – scored his seventh goal of the season on Sunday, bringing him to within one tally of his career high attained in 81 games during his rookie campaign in 2005-06 with San Jose. Goc has points (3g-5a) in five of his last six games, and 14 points in 2009-10 (7g-7a), which is the second-highest total of his career, trailing only the 22 points he recorded in 2005-06 (8g-14a). The first-year Predator has 11 points (5g-6a) in his last 13 outings after posting three points (2g-1a) in his first 24 contests of 2009-10. All 14 of Goc’s points have come at even strength, while 11 of his 13 points have come on the road. He has points in eight of his last nine road games (6g-4a). PLAYER QUICK HITS
Jason Arnott has 17 points (8g-9a) in his last 19 games played… David Legwand has seven points (3g-4a) in his last eight games. He also has 18 points (7g-11a) in his last 21 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 20-6-2 this season when he skates 19:00-or-more… Steve Sullivan has 12 points (4g-8a) in his last 13 games and 19 points (7g-12a) in his last 22 games after starting the season with five points (2g-3a) in the club’s first 17 games of 2009-10… Joel Ward has six points (1g-5a) in his last six games. 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... Since Dec. 4, Cody Franson has six points (2g-4a) in seven games played, in addition to posting a plus-6 rating in that stretch. His plus-9 rating is second among all rookies, while his four goals are second among first-year blueliners. Additionally his 11 points (4g-7a) rank fifth among rookie d-men this season.