TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. ANAHEIM
The Predators will host the Ducks for the second consecutive Saturday tonight at the Sommet Center, the third of four meetings this season between the clubs. Nashville and Anaheim don’t close the season series until March 12 in Anaheim – the second game of a back-to-back set that sees the Preds in San Jose the night before. Seven days ago, Nashville gave up the first goal of the game, then rallied to a 3-1 victory. Shea Weber started the scoring at the 15:27 mark of the second period for the Predators, and Jason Arnott potted his first game winner of the season – and 100th goal as a Predator – at the 10:11 mark of the final frame. David Legwand would add an empty netter with less that one second left. Arnott (1g-2a) and Weber (1g-1a) both notched multi-point performances, while Pekka Rinne was solid in net stopping 25-of-26 shots. In the only other meeting between the teams this campaign – on Nov. 5 at the Honda Center – the Ducks claimed a 4-0 win behind three third-period goals despite being outshot 40-31 by the Predators. For the Predators, the loss was one of just two handed to the club between Oct. 28 and Nov. 27, a four-week span that saw Nashville go 11-2-0.
The home team has fared particularly well in the past four-plus seasons when these teams have met, winning 14-of-18 meetings since the start of 2005-06. All but one of the last seven games between the Predators and Ducks have been decided by two goals or less, with three-of-four meetings in 2008-09 going to overtime/a shootout. On home ice, the Preds have done no worse than a .500 points percentage against Anaheim for the last eight seasons – overall they are 11-6-(2)-2 in 21 games against the Ducks in Nashville.
All-time series highlight: On Nov. 21, 2003 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, the 1,000th tally in Nashville Predators’ history couldn’t have come at a better time. After
The Nashville Predators are 1-0-0 with one tie in two all-time in games played on January 9. The Predators and Blackhawks skated to a 3-3 tie on Jan. 9, 1999. In 2007, the Preds again went to OT on Jan. 9, besting Anaheim 5-4.
Greg Johnson scored No. 999 with just 3:58 left in regulation to send the game to sudden-decision overtime, Scott Hartnell beat Anaheim’s J.S. Giguere to dramatically make goal No. 1,000 a game-winner. Rem Murray and then-rookie blueliner Dan Hamhuis set up Hartnell’s sixth goal of the season. The Predators reached the 1,000-goal mark in their 428th game. The 2003-04 season marked the first in which Nashville scored more than 200 goals (216) in a season, and it also marked the team’s first trip to the post-season.
With his mulit-point game last Saturday, Weber now has seven points (2g-5a) in his last five games against Anaheim. He has three multi-point performances in that span… Dating back to the start of the 2008 calendar year, Arnott has eight points (3g-5a) in six games against Anaheim… Joel Ward has four points in six career games against Anaheim (3g-1a)… As a Predator, Steve Sullivan has 12 points (4g-8a) in 14 games against the Ducks. TEAM QUICK HITS
The Predators are a perfect 3-0-0 when hosting teams from the Pacific Division… Nashville is 23-9-2 in 34 games since Oct. 28 including a 13-5-1 mark on home ice since that date… The Predators currently sit at 26-15-3 (55 points) for the season – the third-best 44-game record in franchise history. The current pace is six wins/12 points ahead of last season’s 44-game record (20-21-3), and six wins/11 points ahead of their pace set in 2007-08 when the club last made the playoffs (20-20-4)… Nashville is 22-9-3 in games decided by two goals or less – tied with New Jersey for the most wins in that situation… The Predators scored four goals on Thursday, giving them four-or-more goals in 15 of the last 26 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. Including three shootout winners, the Predators have scored 87 goals in the last 26 games, an average of 3.35 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 in 42 of their last 52 regulation periods (80.7 percent). The team has a goal in 16 of its last 18 third periods (22 goals)… The Predators have held the opposition scoreless in the second period in five of their last six outings… The Predators are first in the NHL in fewest penalty minutes per game (9.2), and rank fourth in fewest times shorthanded (145). They’ve been shorthanded just five times in the last three games… Nashville is 16-3-1 when scoring first, which is good for fifth in the NHL, 16-2-1 when scoring on the power play and 26-4-3 when scoring more than one goal… The Predators have the League’s second-best record when leading after one period (14-1-0).
HORNQVIST’S HOT STREAK CONTINUES
Sophomore forward and Swedish Olympian Patric Hornqvist has been among the League’s hottest players over the past two-and-a-half weeks, posting 15 points (10g-5a) in the club’s past 12 games. Since the start of the stretch on Dec. 14, no one in the NHL has more goals than Hornqvist’s 10. The final selection in the 2005 Entry Draft (230th overall) scored 11 of his first 13 goals this season while at even strength, but his last three have come on the power play. His 16 goals on the season not only lead the Predators, but rank the Sollentuna native fourth among Swedish NHLers in tallies. Hornqvist also leads the team in game-winning goals (4), plus/minus rating (+10) and shots (132). PLAYER QUICK HITS
Canadian Olympian Shea Weber has eight points (1g-7a) in his last five games after being held scoreless in the previous five. He is also riding a three-game assist streak (4a), which is tied for a career best. The Sicamous, B.C., native is tied for 11th among NHL blueliners in points (26) and tied for 12th at his position in goals (7). Weber’s 118 shots are good for second among League d-men… Steve Sullivan has points (1g-3a) in three straight contests… After missing four straight games due to injury, Czech Olympian Martin Erat’s return to the lineup for tonight’s game is probable. Prior to going down, Erat had posted points in 12-of-14 games (10g-8a). His 10 goals in the month of December were tied with two players for the NHL lead during the month, in addition to tying Jason Arnott’s goal total from February 2009 for the most scored by a Predator in a single month in franchise history. Joel Ward, who also missed Thursday’s game, is probable for tonight – he 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.