TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. CAROLINA
Nashville and Carolina clash for the lone time in 2009-10 tonight, the 13th all-time meeting between the clubs. The Predators have won the last two matchups – a 5-2 decision on Nov. 23, 2008 at the RBC Center and by a 1-0 score on Feb. 5, 2008 in Nashville. In last season’s game, Shea Weber posted three points (2g-1a) and Jason Arnott scored two goals in the win, The last time the Canes came to the Music City, it was Chris Mason who played hero, turning aside all 31 shots. J.P. Dumont scored the lone goal of the game at 11:59 of the third period. Nashville is 7-3-(1)-1 all-time against the Hurricanes, including a 4-1-0 mark on home ice.
All-time series highlight: Two significant franchise milestones were achieved in the second regular-season game in the Nashville Predators’ inaugural season on Oct. 13, 1998 vs. Carolina: the team’s first goal and the franchise’s first win. Andrew Brunette (now of the Minnesota Wild) was credited with the first tally in club history at 5:12 of the first period after a lengthy video review. Denny Lambert and J.J. Daigneault also lit the lamp for Nashville in the 3-2 victory over the. All five of the game’s goals were scored in the first period, including a tally from Carolina’s Martin Gelinas (now Director of Player Development for Nashville). Mike Dunham earned the win in net with 34 saves.
Tonight is Steve Sullivan’s first game against Carolina since Jan. 13, 2006 – a game he scored in. It is only his second game against the Hurricanes as a Predator… Arnott has 20 points (9g-11a) in 24 career games against Carolina… Dumont has points (1g-1a) in each of his two games against Carolina as a Predator, and 18 points (12g-6a) in 22 for his career… Gelinas played with Carolina from Jan. 3, 1998, when he was traded from Vancouver along with Kirk McLean for Sean Burke, Geoff Sanderson and Enrico Ciccone, through the Hurricanes run to the 2002 Stanley Cup Finals. He played 348 games with them in that span, amassing 165 points (75g-90a).
The Nashville Predators are 1-2-0 all-time in games played on January 7. Nashville lost at home to San Jose in 1999, 4-3, before picking up a 2-1 overtime win vs. St. Louis in 2003. On Jan. 7, 2008 the Predators lost in Anaheim 5-2.
TEAM QUICK HITS
The Predators are 5-2-1 against the Eastern Conference this season, including a 4-1-0 mark on home ice. Against the Southeast Division, they are 2-0-1, with home wins over Florida and Tampa Bay, and a shootout loss at Washington… The Predators are 22-9-2 in 32 games since Oct. 28… The Predators currently sit at 25-15-3 (53 points) for the season, which is five wins/10 points ahead of both last season’s 42-game record (20-20-3), and their pace set in 2007-08 when the club last made the playoffs (20-20-3)… Nashville is the only team in the league with 10-or-more one-goal victories (11), and 10-or-more two-goal victories (10). It is 21-9-3 in games decided by two-or-fewer goals – the second-most wins in the NHL (behind only New Jersey, 22)… The Predators are first in the NHL in fewest penalty minutes per game (9.2), and rank fourth in fewest times shorthanded (141). They’ve been shorthanded just five times in the last three games… Nashville is 15-2-1 when scoring on the power play and 25-4-3 when scoring more than one goal… The Predators have the League’s second-best record when leading after one period (tie, 13-1-0), and the NHL’s third-best record when outshooting the opposition (14-4-2)… Nashville is also 16-3-1 when scoring first, which is good for fifth in the NHL.
The Predators are eighth in the League in even-strength markers (86). Of the Predators 39 goals scored since a 5-3 win at Columbus on Dec. 15, 36 of them have come while at even strength… Including three shootout winners, the Predators have scored 83 goals in the last 25 games, an average of 3.32 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 25 games (including shootout winners). Prior to the current 22-game stretch, they had just three four-or-more goal games in the first 18 contests of 2009-10… Since Dec. 2, the Predators have scored in 40-of-51 regulation periods (78.4 percent), including a stretch of 14 straight periods with a goal between Dec. 12-19 – tops in the League this season.
KLEIN SEES ICE TIME SPIKE Kevin Klein has seen his ice time skyrocket in 2009-10, averaging over seven 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 one of just five Predators averaging more than 20 minutes per game (20:03) – this after averaging 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 24-of-42 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 tying for a game-high four on Tuesday vs. Calgary. PLAYER QUICK HITS
With six points (1g-5a) in his last four games, Shea Weber – named to the Canadian Olympic Team last Wednesday – has moved into 14th place among NHL defensemen in points, into a tie for 11th in goals among blueliners (7), and is also tied for third at the position in power-play goals (4). His 118 shots pace all d-men… Patric Hornqvist – a Swedish Olympian – scored for the eighth time in the last 11 games on Tuesday, giving him 12 points (8g-4a) in that span. Since Dec. 14, the start of the hot streak, the final pick of the 2005 Entry Draft is tied with countryman Loui Eriksson (Dallas), Chicago’s Patrick Kane and Atlanta’s Ilya Kovalchuk for the NHL lead in goals… The Sollentuna native ranks fifth among Swedish NHLers in goals (14), and tied for second in game-winning goals. Twenty (11g-9a) of Hornqvist’s 23 points (14g-9a) this season have come at even strength… Marcel Goc, another 2010 Olympian who was picked to his third straight German squad last Wednesday, has 10 points (4g-6a) in his last 10 games, and 13 points (6g-7a) in his last 17 outings after posting three points (2g-1a) in his first 24 contests of 2009-10… David Legwand has points in three of his last four games (2g-1a). He has 10 points (5g-5a) in his last 12 games, and 21 points (9g-12a) in his last 25 games after starting the season with five points in the team’s first 18 contests of 2009-10. The club is 9-0-1 this season when he scores, and 22-6-2 this season when he skates 19:00-or-more… Joel Ward has 10 points (2g-8a) in his last 11 games. The team is 16-0-0 this season when Ward registers a point, and 17-2-2 since the start of last season when he scores a goal… Jason Arnott now has 20 points (9g-11a) in his last 23 games played. Arnott had one assist in his 10 games played prior to the current stretch… Dan Hamhuis ranks seventh among NHL blueliners in takeaways (26), while Ward is tied for 11th among League forwards in the category (36).