TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. ATLANTA
As one of its three Eastern Conference “wild card” opponents, Nashville will square off with the Thrashers for the first of two times this season – the other will come March 9 at Philips Arena. It is the second straight season the teams have played a pair of games – they split the 2008-09 series with the road team winning both matchups. Nashville took the first game of last season by a 4-3 score in overtime in Atlanta thanks to a Ryan Suter goal at 1:44 of the extra session. It was the Predators first win at the venue since its first game there on Dec. 6, 1999. Dan Hamhuis posted a pair of points in the win (1g-1a), with the tally being his second career shorthanded marker. Atlanta’s win would come in the second-to-last game before the 2009 All-Star Break, on Jan. 17, by a 7-2 score at the Sommet Center. This is the 12th all-time matchup of the teams, with Nashville posting a 5-4-(1)-2 record in the previous 11. On home ice against the Thrashers, the club has gone 3-2-0.
All-time series highlight: In his first start as a Predator – and only his second career start – Dan Ellis did not disappoint the hometown fans, posting a 20-save shutout on Oct. 25, 2007. Both Jordin Tootoo (1g-1a) and David Legwand (2a) notched multi-point games for the Predators, while Jerred Smithson opened the scoring with what would be his first of back-to-back games with the winning goal, the first time in his career he had scored in two straight contests.
Jason Arnott scored a goal in the Nov. 28 game, and assisted on both Nashville goals in the Jan. 17 game to lead all Predators in scoring against Atlanta a season ago. He has 15 points (5g-10a) in 17 career games against Atlanta… Tootoo has seen greater success against the Atlanta Thrashers than any other NHL team – in four career games against them, he has five points (3g-2a)… Shea Weber posted a point in each of Nashville’s games against Atlanta a season ago (1g-1a), his first two career games against the club… As a Predator, Steve Sullivan has assists in each of his first two games against Atlanta, and five points (3g-2a) in seven career games against the Thrashers…
Career highs/highlights attained against the Thrashers Wade Belak – First game as a Predator on Nov. 28, 2008.
Dan Ellis – First NHL shutout on Oct. 25, 2007. Jordin Tootoo – First NHL goal on Oct. 23, 2003 on goaltender Pasi Nurminen. TEAM QUICK HITS
The Predators are 5-4-0 in the second game of back-to-backs… Nashville is 6-3-1 against the Eastern Conference, including a 3-0-1 mark against the Southeast Division, and a 5-2-0 record against Eastern teams on home ice… The Predators have outshot the opposition 182-114 in the last five games (avg. 36.4-22.8), but have been outscored 17-10. In the three games prior, they were outshot 95-74 (avg. 31.7-24.7), 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 15-of-16 at even strength over a seven-game span, including both goals last night at Detroit… 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 … 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… The Predators have the League’s second-best record when leading after one period (16-1-0)… Nashville is 26-15-2 in 43 games since Oct. 28, and currently sit at 29-21-3 (61 points) for the season – the third-best 53-game record in franchise history. The current pace is four wins/eight points ahead of last season’s 53-game record (25-25-3)… The Predators are third in the NHL in fewest times shorthanded (176) and are averaging a League-low 9.1 penalty minutes per game.
PLAYER QUICK HITS Shea Weber’s goal last night gave him points (1g-1a) in back-to-back games, and 13 points (4g-9a) in his last 14 games. The Canadian Olympian is tied for fourth among NHL defensemen in goals (10) and tied for 13th at the position in points (31). His 151 shots on goal are the most among NHL blueliners… Patric Hornqvist has 15 goals and 22 points in the team’s last 21 games dating back to Dec. 14. Last night was just the third time in 12 games this month he has been held off the scoresheet – he has 12 points (8g-4a) in those games. The Swedish Olympian’s 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. Among the 24 players with at least 21 goals, he’s the only one with less than 100 NHL games experience… Martin Erat has three points (2g-1a) in his last four games, and 21 points (13g-8a) in his last 23 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. Erat’s 18.5 shooting percentage ranks seventh in the NHL… Jason Arnott has nine of his 12 goals this season on home ice… Ryan Jones has six points (3g-3a) in his last eight games, topping his output from his previous 26 games played this season (4g-1a)… J.P. Dumont has seven points (2g-5a) in his last nine outings.
Nashville has scored by committee this season – it has seven players with 10-or-more goals (Hornqvist, Erat, Arnott, Sulllivan, Legwand, Goc and Weber) and J.P. Dumont within one goal of double-digits. Nine Predators have 20-or-more points, and Goc is just one point shy of his second career 20-plus-point season.