TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. COLUMBUS
The Predators travel to Ohio’s capital city for the second of three times in 2009-10 tonight, just the second time in franchise history the Predators have played on New Year’s Eve. On Dec. 31, 2007, Nashville received a 22-save shutout from former Star Dan Ellis and a second-period goal from J.P. Dumont in a 1-0 win at American Airlines Center, snapping an eight-game losing streak in Dallas. The last time Nashville visited Columbus – which was also the most recent meeting – was on Dec. 14, when Steve Sullivan notched his seventh career hat trick in a 5-3 win. It was 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). It was also Sullivan’s fourth hat trick as a Predator, the most by an individual in club history. The five-goal outburst was just the second time this season the club had scored that many goals, but kicked off a franchise-record stretch of four consecutive games with five-or-more goals.
The first two games of the season series, both held at the Sommet Center, ended in identical 4-3 shootout victories for Nashville on Nov. 21 and Dec. 10. On Nov. 21, Martin Erat (1g-1a) and David Legwand (1g-1a) led the way for the Predators, and on Dec. 10, it was Jason Arnott, Martin Erat and Dave Scatchard that provided the offense. Ryan Suter pitched in two assists while Arnott, Marcel Goc and Sullivan (shootout-deciding goal) scored in the five-round shootout, snapping Mathieu Garon’s 13-game winning streak in the breakaway competition. The three shootout goals were 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.
The Nashville Predators are 1-0-0 all-time in games played on December 31, winning 1-0 at Dallas on Dec. 31, 2007. Dan Ellis turned aside all 22 shots he faced and JP Dumont provided the offense. The win jump-started the Preds hot second half of the season and allowed the team to rally into a playoff spot.
In the three total games, Nashville has outshot Columbus by a combined margin of 119-91 (avg. 40-30). Nashville has won the season series in all but Columbus’ first year in existence (2000-01), going 36-8-(1)-4 since 2001-02 and 21-2-2 overall since the start of the 2006-07 campaign. The Predators are 8-2-2 in their last 11 visits to Ohio’s capital city. The Blue Jackets and Predators have needed a shootout to decide things in four of the last seven meetings in the series, and the home team has won 12 of the last 14, with the Dec. 14 game snapping a stretch of eight straight victories by the home team. Nine of the last 10 games in the series have been decided by two goals or less.
Sullivan (3g-1a) and Erat (2g-2a) lead the team in points against Columbus this season. Sullivan has 43 points (16g-27a) in 39 games against Columbus in his career, while Erat has 15points (8g-7a) in his last 15 games against Columbus, including points (6g-5a) in nine of his last 10. He has more points (12g-24a) against Columbus than any other team in his career… Dating back to Nov. 12, 2007, Arnott has points in 11 of the last 13 games he has played against Columbus, amassing 15 points (7g-8a) in that span. He has 36 points (16g-20a) in 36 career games against the Blue Jackets… Shea Weber has more points against Columbus (5g-9a in 21 games) than any other team in his career… … In six career appearances against Columbus (4-1-1 record), Dan Ellis has given up just nine goals on 192 shots for a 1.55 GAA, a .953 save percentage and a pair of shutouts. TEAM QUICK HITS
The Predators are 20-8-2 in 30 games since Oct. 28… The Predators currently sit at 23-14-3 (49 points) for the season, which is five wins/10 points ahead of last season’s 40-game record (18-19-3), and three wins/seven points ahead of the pace set by its 2007-08 playoff team (20-18-2)… The Predators scored in all three periods for the second consecutive game on Tuesday, and for the sixth time in the last eight outings, and have now scored at least once in 22 of their last 26 regulation periods… Including three shootout winners, the Predators have scored 77 goals in the last 22 games, an average of 3.5 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 14 times in the last 22 games (including shootout winners), and in seven of the last 10. Prior to the current 22-game stretch, they had just three four-or-more goal games in the first 18 contests of 2009-10… The Predators are tied for fourth in the League in even-strength markers (82), and are tied for seventh in five-on-five goals (78)… The Predators rank second in the NHL in fewest penalty minutes per game (9.6)… Nashville has scored in the first period 18 of the last 23 games (25 goals)… The Predators have scored in 10-of-11 second periods (18), and in 10-of-12 third frames (17)… Nashville is 15-1-1 when scoring on the power play, 23-4-3 when scoring more than one goal, and 16-3-1 when scoring the first goal of the game – the League’s fifth-best winning percent (.800) in that situation… Nashville also has the League’s second-best record when leading after one period (13-1-0). PLAYER QUICK HITS David Legwand has eight points (3g-5a) in his last nine games. He also has 19 points (7g-12a) in his last 22 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 21-6-2 this season when he skates 19:00-or-more… Ryan Suter has nine assists in his last 13 games, giving him 18 helpers for the season – good for 13th (tie) among NHL blueliners... Joel Ward has seven points (2g-5a) in his last seven games. The team is 14-0-0 this season when Ward registers a point, and 17-2-2 since the start of last season when he registers a point. He’s also tied for ninth among NHL forwards in blocked shots (33), and tied for 10th among forwards in takeaways (34)... Steve Sullivan has 19 points (7g-12a) in his last 23 games after starting the season with five points (2g-3a) in the club’s first 17 games of 2009-10… J.P. Dumont has six points (2g-4a) in his last seven games… Since Dec. 4, Cody Franson has six points (1g-5a) in eight games played, in addition to posting a plus-6 rating in that stretch. His plus-9 rating is tied for second among all rookies. Additionally his 11 points (3g-8a) rank fifth (tied) among rookie d-men this season. Ten (3g-7a) of his 11 points have come on the road.