TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. COLORADO
The Predators make their final regular season trip to Denver for tonight’s game at the Pepsi Center, the third of four meetings between Nashville and Colorado in 2009-10. The teams will wrap up the four-game set in two weeks at the Sommet Center. Nashville has taken the first two games of the season, winning its home opener on Oct. 8 by a 3-2 score and claiming an overtime decision in its last trip to this venue on Nov. 25, 4-3. On Oct. 8, the Preds rallied from a 2-1 deficit in the final eight minutes of regulation to claim the victory. Patric Hornqvist scored both the game-tying (at 12:31 of the third) and game-winning goals (14:48) as part of his first three-point game. Ryan Suter assists on both of Hornqvist’s goals, while Jason Arnott also posted a pair of points (1g-1a) and a personal season-high eight shots on net. Nashville outshot the Avalanche 37-24, and Dan Ellis picked up the victory with 22 saves. On Nov. 25, the Predators again came from behind to win, receiving the equalizer from Shea Weber on a power-play goal late in the second period, then David Legwand’s franchise-record seventh overtime tally just 28 seconds into the final frame. Arnott again had a pair of points (2a) and a team-high four shots in the win. With a win, Nashville will finish undefeated at the Pepsi Center in a single season for just the second time in franchise history – the only other time was in 2003-04. The Predators have split their two games in Denver for three of the past four campaigns.
All-time series highlight: The Predators and Avalanche met at the Pepsi Center on Jan. 22 two years ago as well, with Nashville claiming a 4-0 win. That game, which was also the tail-end of a back-to-back set and part of the club’s annual Father’s Trip, saw Ellis turn aside all 38 shots he faced – the third time he’s stopped 35-or-more shots in a shutout victory during his career. Martin Erat scored a pair of goals, while the defensive tandem of Weber (1g-1a) and Suter (2a) also posted multi-point games.
Arnott’s four points (1g-3a) in two games leads all Predators this season. He has 12 points (7g-5a) in 14 games against the Avs in a Nashville sweater, and Colorado is one of five teams Arnott has 20-or-more goals against for his career (20)… Hornqvist (2g-1a), Weber (1g-2a) and Suter (3a) each have three points in two games against Colorado in 2009-10... J.P. Dumont scored last time these teams met, giving him 21 points (5g-14a) in 23 career games against Colorado… Since joining the Predators, Steve Sullivan has nine points (4g-5a) in nine games against Colorado… In three career games against Colorado, Ellis has a 2-1-0 record with a 1.01 goals-against average and a .963 save percentage.
The Nashville Predators are 1-1-0 all-time in games played on January 22. Nashville was shutout by Calgary, 4-0, in 2004 before shutting out Colorado, 4-0, in 2008.
Wade Belak started his career with the Quebec/Colorado organization after being the Nordiques’ first choice (12th overall) in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft. He played his first 35 NHL games over three seasons with Colorado from 1996-99, posting a pair of points (1g-1a) and 109 penalty minutes. He also helped the Avs’ AHL affiliate in Hershey win the 1997 Calder Cup in his first professional season. On Feb. 28, 1999, he was traded to Calgary along with Rene Corbet, Robyn Regehr and Colorado's second round compensatory choice in 2000 Entry Draft (Jarret Stoll) for Theoren Fleury and Chris Dingman.
Career highs/highlights attained against the Avalanche
Jason Arnott – Notched his fourth career hat trick on Feb. 20, 2004 (with Dallas). Jerred Smithson – Played his first NHL game on Dec. 29, 2002 (with Los Angeles). TEAM QUICK HITS
Tonight is the second game of the Predators annual Father’s Trip. A season ago, the club shutout Minnesota in the first game of the Dad’s Trip – 2-0 on Feb. 6 – before falling at Dallas 4-1 two days later. Like this year, the Predators made the trek to Phoenix and Denver for their 2007-08 trip, winning 4-0 in Colorado on Jan. 22 before dropping an overtime decision to the Coyotes, 4-3, on Jan. 24… Nashville is 26-12-2 in 40 games since Oct. 28, and currently sit at 29-18-3 (61 points) for the season – the third-best 50-game record in franchise history. The current pace is six wins/12 points ahead of last season’s 50-game record (23-24-3), and five wins/eight points ahead of their pace set in 2007-08 when the club last made the playoffs (24-21-5)… Nashville is 25-11-3 in games decided by two goals or less. Its win total in those situations is best in the League… The Predators have given up 23 goals in their last 10 games, an average of 2.30 per game… The Predators have scored in 21 of their last 24 third periods (30 goals)… The Predators are first in the NHL in fewest penalty minutes per game (8.8), and rank third in fewest times shorthanded (159)… Nashville is 19-3-1 when scoring first, which is good for third in the NHL, 17-3-1 when scoring on the power play and 28-7-3 when scoring more than one goal… The Predators have the League’s second-best record when leading after one period (16-2-0)… Nashville is 15-7-2 when outshooting the opposition.
The Predators had a five-game road winning streak snapped last night. The streak was the second-longest such streak in franchise history. It came after the club tied a club record for consecutive road games with a point (6-0-1) between Nov. 12 and Dec. 19. The Predators are 11-3-1 in their last 15 games away from the Sommet Center. Prior to this week’s road trip, Nashville swept all three Western Canadian teams in a single trip for the second time in franchise history. In the 14 games prior to last night, the team had scored 51 goals (3.64 per game). Nine times in the 14 games the Predators scored four-or-more goals. The Predators have 15 road wins on the season, tied for fourth and just two off the League lead.
Individually, Marcel Goc has 14 points (8g-6a) in his last 15 road games, and 15 of his 19 points this season have come away from Nashville… Shea Weber has seven of his nine goals away from the Sommet Center, putting him tops among NHL d-men in road goals (7), and has six points (2g-4a) in his last six road games.
Nashville has scored by committee this season – it has six players with 10-or-more goals (Hornqvist, Erat, Arnott, Sulllivan, Legwand and Goc). Nine Predators have 20-or-more points, and Goc is just one point shy of his second career 20-plus-point season.
HORNQVIST REACHES 20 IN LESS THAN 50
Last night at Phoenix, Patric Hornqvist became just the third player in franchise history to reach the 20-goal plateau in fewer than 50 games. Steve Sullivan reached 20 goals in his 38th game of the season in 2005-06 and hit the mark in 49 games in 2006-07. Jason Arnott posted 20 goals in his 42nd contest in 2006-07. Hornqvist is the 17th player in franchise history to score 20 goals in a season.
The final pick of the 2005 Entry Draft (230th overall), Hornqvist has 20 points (14g-6a) in his last 18 games, including seven goals and 10 points since the calendar turned to 2010. Two of his last three goals have been game winners, boosting his season total to six game-winning goals in 2009-10 – tied for third in the NHL. The Swedish Olympian has experienced a 18-goal increase from his rookie season of 2008-09 – tops in the NHL among players who skated in at least 20 games last season.
FRANSON’S OUTPUT IN PERSPECTIVE
Rookie defenseman Cody Franson scored and registered an assist in Monday’s game, his fourth multi-point outing in his 37th career game. Only two Predator draftees (Alexander Radulov, 5 and Adam Hall, 4) have had that many multiple-point games in their first season – David Legwand, Shea Weber, Dan Hamhuis and Ryan Suter all had three. The Sicamous, B.C., native is tied for fourth among rookie blueliners in points (4g-10a), and tied for third in goals. His plus-10 rating ranks second among all rookies. PLAYER QUICK HITS
In his 30th game of the season on Monday, Ryan Jones equaled his goal output from his 46-game rookie season (7). Jones has five points (3g-2a) in his last five games… Steve Sullivan has assists in seven of his last nine games, amassing eight points (1g-7a) in that span… J.P. Dumont has six points (2g-4a) in his last six outings… Martin Erat has 20 points (12g-8a) in his last 20 games played dating back to the beginning of December. His 19.0 shooting percentage ranks among tops in the League… Weber has 11 points (2g-9a) in his last 11 games dating back to Dec. 29 – the day before being named to the Canadian Olympic Team. Weber ranks among the defensive league leaders in points (9g-20a), goals, power-play goals (5) and shots (130).