TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. DETROIT
In game No. 53 of the 2009-10 season, the Predators make their first of three visits to Joe Louis Arena, the third of six overall matchups between the Central Division foes this season. The teams have split the first two meetings of 2009-10, with the Predators going 1-0-1 in those games. Nashville won the first meeting of the clubs on Nov. 23, a 3-1 decision at the Sommet Center, behind a pair of goals by Martin Erat and a 30-save effort by Pekka Rinne. On Dec. 12, Nashville rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the second-half of regulation on goals by Ryan Jones and Detroit native David Legwand to force overtime. Todd Bertuzzi ended the game just 24 seconds into the extra session, the quickest overtime goal against in franchise history. Nashville has points in each of its last five outings against Detroit dating back to last February, going 4-0-1 in that span. At Joe Louis Arena, the Preds have won back-to-back games – just the second time in franchise history they have done so. Never has the club beaten Detroit on its home ice in three straight. The first of the pair of wins came by a 4-3 score on March 29, 2009, and continued in dramatic fashion on April 9, 2009 in a 4-3 shootout decision. In that game, the Predators rallied from a two-goal deficit in the final seven minutes of regulation, then won the game in a shootout. Nashville’s power play has been especially effective against the Red Wings in the last eight games, dating back to the beginning of the 2008-09 season, going 10-for-31 (32.25 percent) in that span – the unit is 3-for-8 in the two games this season. Additionally, the penalty kill has gone 6-for-6 against the Wings this season after giving up 10 man-advantage goals a season ago. The Predators only won once in their first 14 trips to Detroit from season No. 1-5, but since 2003-04, they’ve gone 7-7-4 against the two-time defending Western Conference Champions.
Jason Arnott has been effective of late against Detroit. Since notching his eighth career hat trick in the Feb. 28 game, he has eight points (5g-3a) in seven games against the Wings, and 14 points (6g-8a) in his last 15 games against them… Steve Sullivan has 10 points (3g-7a) in seven games against Detroit since returning from a nearly two-year absence due to injury. He has 19 points (6g-13a) in 18 games against Detroit as a Predator… Since the start of the 2007-08 season, J.P. Dumont has 15 points (3g-12a) in 16 games against Detroit… A native of Detroit, David Legwand has points in each of the first Preds-Wings games this season, and 32 points (12g-20a) in 47 career games against his hometown team… Ryan Jones has four points (1g-3a) in five career contests against Detroit… Rinne is 4-1-1 in six career starts against Detroit, posting a 2.31 goals-against average and .931 save percentage.
The Predators are 3-1-0 all-time in games played on January 29. Nashville picked up a 3-1 win over Calgary at home in 2000 at a 5-2 win at Phoenix in 2001. The Preds beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 6-4 in 2004, but dropped a 3-1 decision to the Boston Bruins in 2008.
Career highs/highlights attained against the Red Wings
Jason Arnott – Eighth career hat trick on Feb. 28, 2009. Pekka Rinne – Saw a career-high 50 shots (46 saves) on Feb. 10, 2009. Steve Sullivan – Racked up a career-high 22 penalty minutes on April 10, 2002 (with Chicago). Shea Weber – Played his first NHL game on Jan. 6, 2006 (3-1 Detroit win). TEAM QUICK HITS
The Predators are 4-5-0 on the front-end of back-to-backs, and 5-4-0 on the back end… Nashville is 9-6-1 against the Central Division, including a 5-3-0 mark on the road… Twenty-five of Nashville’s 29 wins have come by two goals or less, second only to New Jersey for most wins in that situation … The Predators are second in the NHL in fewest times shorthanded (172) and are averaging a League-low 9.1 penalty minutes per game… The Predators have outshot the opposition 134-85 in the last four games (avg. 33.5-21.25), but have been outscored 13-8. In the three games prior, they were outshot 95-74 (avg. 31.67-24.67), but outscored their foes 9-5… Since a stretch from Jan. 5-11 (four games) that saw the Predators score 8-of-10 goals via special teams (six power-play goals, two shorthanded goals), they have scored 13-of-14 at even strength over a six-game span… Nashville is 19-3-1 when scoring first, which is good for third in the NHL, 17-4-1 when scoring on the power play and 28-8-3 when scoring more than one goal… The Predators have the League’s second-best record when leading after one period (16-1-0)… Nashville is 26-14-2 in 42 games since Oct. 28, and currently sit at 29-20-3 (61 points) for the season – the third-best 52-game record in franchise history. The current pace is four wins/eight points ahead of last season’s 52-game record (25-24-3), and three wins/four points ahead of their pace set in 2007-08 when the club last made the playoffs (26-21-5).
PREDS ON THE ROAD
Tonight is the last of seven road games for the Predators in a 19-day span between Jan. 11-29 – their only home game in the stretch came Jan. 18 vs. Toronto. In Nashville’s last 17 road games dating back to Nov. 12, it has gone 11-5-1. Overall, the Predators’ 15 wins away from home are just one shy of last season’s road win total, and three victories away from the second-highest mark (18), attained two seasons ago, and in 2000-01 (18). The franchise record is 23 road wins attained in 2006-07.
The Predators have scored 64 even-strength goals on the road, second only to Washington, and with 78 goals in 27 road games, the Predators are averaging 2.89 per away game, the fourth-highest average in the NHL. Also, the club is plus-12 in non-power play goals on the road, the third-best mark in the League.
PREDATOR OLYMPIANS HORNQVIST AND ERAT ELEVATE PLAY
Swedish Olympian Patric Hornqvist and Czech Olympian Martin Erat have produced five of Nashville’s eight goals over the last five games, and as Nashville’s top two goal scorers, have 38 of the club’s 141 goals this season (27 percent). This will be Hornqvist’s first Olympics, while Erat will be making his second appearance – he scored the game-winning goal for the Czechs in the Bronze Medal Game at the 2006 Torino Games.
Hornqvist has 15 goals in the team’s last 20 games dating back to Dec. 14 – tied with San Jose’s Patrick Marleau for the most goals in the NHL since that date. He has scored nearly one out of every four Nashville goals (61 total) in that span while assisting on seven others. Additionally, since the start of January, the Sollentuna, Sweden native has been held off the scoresheet just twice in 11 games, amassing 12 points (8g-4a) since the start of 2010. Among the 27 players with at least 20 goals prior to Thursday night’s games, he was the only one with less than 100 NHL games experience, and his 19-goal increase from his rookie season of 2008-09 is tops in the NHL among players who skated in at least 20 games last season.
Erat has goals (2g-1a) in two of the last three games, giving him 21 points (13g-8a) in his last 22 games played dating back to the beginning of December – he missed four games in that span due to injury. Twelve of Erat’s 17 goals this season have been scored at home, while 12 of his 14 assists have come on the road. The Trebic, Czech Republic native has nine goals and 14 points in 14 divisional games vs. eight goals and 17 points in 31 non-divisional games. Erat’s 18.5 shooting percentage ranks among the NHL’s Top 10. PLAYER QUICK HITS
With an assist last game, Shea Weber has 12 points (3g-9a) in his last 13 games. The Canadian Olympian is in the Top 15 among NHL defensemen in both goals (9) and points (30). His 146 shots on goal rank second among blueliners to only Boston’s Zdeno Chara, and his seven road goals rank first… Marcel Goc – who missed Tuesday’s game due to injury – has 14 points (8g-6a) in his last 16 road games, and 15 of his 19 points this season have come away from Nashville… Ryan Jones has six points (3g-3a) in his last seven games, topping his output from his previous 26 games played this season (4g-1a)… Defenseman Cody Franson has three points (2g-1a) in his last four games. His 15 points and five goals each rank third among rookie blueliners, while his plus-10 rating is second… Twelve of Franson’s 15 points, and four of his five goals have come in 24 road games… Jason Arnott (1g-4a) have five points in their last seven games played, while J.P. Dumont has six points (2g-4a) in his last eight outings… Since the start of the new year, Dan Ellis has posted a 1.88 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage.