TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. COLORADO
The Predators and Avalanche wrap up their 2009-10 series slate tonight at the Sommet Center with Nashville currently holding a two games to one edge in the previous three meetings – the Preds won their home opener on Oct. 8 by a 3-2 score and claimed an overtime decision at the Pepsi Center on Nov. 25, 4-3. Most recently, Colorado claimed a 2-1 victory on Jan. 22. In the Oct. 8 contest, 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 assisted 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 extra frame. Arnott again had a pair of points (2a) and a team-high four shots in the win. Two weeks ago, Nashville was assessed a season-high 28 penalty minutes and was shorthanded a season-high nine times in the one-goal loss. Cody Franson scored the team’s only goal, his first career man-advantage marker.
The Predators have split their two games with the Avs in four of the last five seasons – the lone exception was 2005-06 when they claimed both of their home games. Nashville is an even 9-9-(3)-0 in 21 games hosting Colorado, but hold a 7-3-0 advantage in the Avalanche’s last 10 visits to the Music City. Overall, Nashville is 17-20-(1)-5 all-time against Colorado, but 13-9-0-0 in the last 22 meetings. This season, Nashville has outshot Colorado 94-69, including a 31-14 margin in the first period, while the power play has clicked at a 30 percent clip (3-for-10).
The Nashville Predators are 1-0-0 with two ties in three all-time games played on February 4. The Preds picked up ties at Calgary in 1999 (2-2) and at Detroit in 2003 (5-5). Nashville earned a 6-0 win over Chicago on Feb. 4, 2006.
All-time series highlights: Both the first Predators hat trick, and the first hat trick by an opponent in Sommet Center history came against the Avalanche. On Feb. 19, 1999, recently retired legend Joe Sakic scored a second-period goal, and two goals in the final six minutes of regulation in a 4-4 tie. On the day after Christmas in 2000, Scott Walker scored the game’s opening goal on the power play, an even-strength goal at 13:45 of the third, then an empty-net shorthanded marker with 15 seconds left in regulation to cap off his three-goal night in a 5-2 victory.
Arnott leads the team in points against Colorado this season, with five (1g-4a) in three games. He has 13 points (7g-6a) in 15 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-2a) is the only other player producing at greater that a point-per-game against the Avs in 2009-10, and is the only Predator with more than one goal against the club… The defensive duo of Weber (1g-2a) and Suter (3a) each have three points in three season series games… J.P. Dumont has 21 points (5g-14a) in 24 career games against Colorado… Since joining the Predators, Steve Sullivan has nine points (4g-5a) in 11 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… 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
Nashville is 9-6-1 this season against the Northwest Division. Last season, it went 7-13-0 against the Northwest… Since a 3-6-1 start to the season, the Predators have gone 27-15-3. With 64 points (30-21-4), the club is four wins/nine points ahead of last season’s 55-game pace (55 points, 26-26-3)… The Predators have outshot the opposition in six of the last seven games, amassing a 238-166 edge (plus-72) in that span – the only time they were outshot was Tuesday vs. Phoenix by a one-shot margin (25-26). Predators have put 30-or-more shots on net in all but one of the games, and racked up 40-shot performances on two occasions – at Phoenix on Jan. 21 when they racked up the second-highest shot advantage in a road game in franchise history (43-23) and last Friday at Detroit when they set a franchise record for shots in road game (48-29). Prior to the current seven-game stretch, Nashville had put 30-or-more shots on goal just three times in the previous 15 games, and hadn’t posted a 40-shot performance in 28 outings. The Predators are allowing an average of just 29.1 shots per game, eighth fewest in the League… The Predators are tied for second in the NHL in fewest times shorthanded (180) and are averaging a League-low 9.0 penalty minutes per game… The Predators are 26-15-3 in games decided by two goals or less. That is tied with Phoenix for the second-most wins in the NHL in that situation behind only New Jersey… The Predators are 17-1-0 when leading after one period, which is tied for first in the NHL with the Coyotes and the Devils… Nashville is 20-3-1 when scoring first, which is good for second in the League behind only Phoenix… The Predators have posted a 17-4-1 record when recording a power-play goal… 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 19-of-20 at even strength over an nine-game span from Jan. 12-Feb. 2.
SCORING BY COMMITTEE
Nashville has nine different players with at least 25 points – only Chicago and Washington with 10 each have more – and five of those nine have already surpassed 30 points. Seven Predators have hit double-digits in goals with J.P. Dumont and Joel Ward just one shy of the mark. PLAYER QUICK HITS Martin Erat has 23 points (14g-9a) in his last 25 games played dating back to the beginning of December, including five points (3g-2a) in his last six games. Thirteen of Erat’s 18 goals this season have been scored at home, while 12 of his 15 assists have come on the road. The Czech Olympian is also ranked ninth in the NHL in shooting percentage (18.6), and is in a four-way tie for tops on the team in scoring with J.P. Dumont, Patric Hornqvist and Steve Sullivan… Sullivan has recorded an assist in six of the last seven home games (1g-6a), while defenseman Ryan Suter has notched assists in three-of-four at the Sommet Center… Suter (2a), along with defenseman Dan Hamhuis (2a) and Jerred Smithson (1g-1a) have points in two of their last three games… Jason Arnott has 10 of his 13 goals this season on home ice… Shea Weber has 13 points (4g-9a) in his last 16 games. The Canadian Olympian is tied for fifth among NHL defensemen in goals (10) and tied for 13th at the position in points (31). His 158 shots on goal are neck-and-neck with Boston’s Zdeno Chara for the most among NHL blueliners… Patric Hornqvist has 15 goals and 22 points in the team’s last 23 games dating back to Dec. 14. 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. Hornqvist also paces the team in plus/minus rating (plus-12) and shots (181)… Joel Ward has a pair of points (1g-1a) in a pair of games since returning from a three-game absence due to injury. The Predators are 18-0-0 this season when he registers a point, and 19-2-2 since the start of 2008-09 when he scores a goal.