TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. NEW JERSEY
The Nashville Predators make their first-ever appearance at the Prudential Center – and just their second appearance in New Jersey in the past six seasons tonight. As one of Nashville’s three Eastern Conference Wild Card opponents (Atlanta and Florida are the others), this is the second of two games between the Predators and Devils this season. The teams met on Nov. 19 at the Sommet Center in what turned out to be the fourth of seven consecutive victories for the Predators. Playing against his former team, Jason Arnott notched both of Nashville’s goals, while Mike Santorelli and Martin Erat converted for the club in the shootout in a 3-2 victory. Pekka Rinne stopped 26-of-28 shots, while J.P. Dumont assisted on both of the Predators goals. Like earlier this season, Nashville’s last trip to New Jersey ended in a shootout victory. On Oct. 19, 2006, Arnott and Erat scored, then Erat provided the shootout-deciding goal in a 4-3 win. Overall, Nashville is 6-6-2 against the Devils, including a 4-1-1 mark in New Jersey. The road team has won 10 of the 14 all-time meetings.
All-time series highlight: In a matinee game (12 p.m. CT start time) at Continental Airlines Arena on Jan. 30, 1999 – the day before Super Bowl XXXIII, Sebastien Bordeleau scored the game-winner (2:43) for Nashville in the franchise's first overtime victory.
The Preds are 4-1-0 all-time in games played on February 12. Nashville won 2-1 against the New York Islanders in 1999. Nashville fell to the Washington Capitals in 2000, 4-2, before rallying to win its last three Feb. 12 appearances. In 2002 the Predators shutout Florida 1-0, followed by a 4-2 win over Detroit in '08 and a 4-3 shootout win over St. Louis in '09.
Arnott was acquired by New Jersey along with Bryan Muir from Edmonton for Valeri Zelepukin and Bill Guerin on Jan. 4, 1998 and proceeded to post 221 points (97g-124a) in 302 games with the club. His most notable accomplishments with the club came in the playoffs though, scoring the Cup-clinching goal at 8:20 of the second overtime period in Game Six of the 2000 Stanley Cup Finals vs. Dallas. That capped a 2000 postseason that saw him post playoff career-highs in games played (23), goals (8), assists (12), points (20) and penalty minutes (18), tying for third in the NHL in postseason points in 2000, and tying for fourth in goals and assists. In a return trip to the Cup Finals in 2001, the Collingwood, Ont., native tied playoff career-highs in games played and goals, in addition to leading the Devils and tying for first in the NHL with five playoff power-play goals. He also centered the famous “A Line,” combining with Patrik Elias and Petr Sykora to notch 96 goals and 136 assists for 232 points and a +104 rating during the 2000-01 season. His time as a Devil ended on March 19, 2002 when he was traded to Dallas with Randy McKay and a first-round choice in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft (traded to Buffalo; Buffalo selected Daniel Paille) for Joe Nieuwendyk and Jamie Langenbrunner. For his career, Arnott has 10 points (6g-4a) in 10 games against New Jersey.
Steve Sullivan started his career with New Jersey after being drafted 233rd overall (ninth round) by the club in the 1994 Entry Draft. After playing the 1994-95 season with its AHL affiliate in Albany, he split the next two seasons between New Jersey and Albany, posting 31 points (13g-18a) in 49 NHL games from his career debut on Feb. 23, 1996 vs. Montreal, until Feb. 25, 1997 when he was acquired by Toronto, with Jason Smith and Alyn McCauley, for Doug Gilmour, Dave Ellett and New Jersey’s third-round choice (previously acquired; New Jersey selected Andre Lakos) in the 1999 Entry Draft.
In addition to two of his seven career shootout-deciding markers, Erat has seven points (3g-4a) in nine career games against New Jersey… Ryan Suter has an assist in three of the four career games he’s played against the Devils.
Career highs/highlights attained against the Devils David Legwand – Played his first NHL game on April 17, 1999 – the final game of the Predators inaugural season. TEAM QUICK HITS
The Predators are 8-3-2 against the Eastern Conference this season, including a 2-0-1 mark against the Atlantic Division… The Predators won their 16th road game of the season on Wednesday against the Rangers, equaling their total from 2008-09. They are just two victories away from the second-highest road win total in franchise history (18), attained two seasons ago and in 2000-01. The club record is 23 road wins attained in 2006-07. Despite going 1-4-1 in its last six road games, Nashville is 12-6-2 away from the Sommet Center since Nov. 12… The Predators have scored 69 even-strength goals on the road, second only to Washington, and are averaging 2.83 goals per game in road contests, the fourth-highest mark in the league. Also, the club is plus-14 in non-power play goals on the road, the third-best mark in the League… The Predators are 28-16-3 in games decided by two goals or less – that’s tied with tonight’s opponent and Phoenix for the most wins in that situation … Since the start of February, the Predators have scored six of their 13 goals on the power play. In the previous eight games from Jan. 12-30, the club scored 19 of its 20 goals at even strength… Nashville has scored 24 of its last 28 goals in the final 35 minutes of regulation time going back to Jan. 15. The average time of its first goal of the game in this stretch is 30:47 of regulation time… The Predators have nine second-period goals in the last four games, equaling their output from the previous 16 games… The Predators are 18-1-0 when leading after one period – tied with Phoenix for the best record in the League in that situation, and 21-4-1 when scoring first – second to only Phoenix… The Predators have posted a 19-5-2 record when recording a power-play goal… Nashville is ninth in the NHL in five-on-five goals for/against ratio (1.06)… Despite being a man down 15 times in the last three games, Nashville has been shorthanded the third-fewest times in the League (199), and are averaging the fewest penalty minutes per game (9.3)… With 69 points (32-22-5), the club is five wins/11 points ahead of last season’s 59-game pace (58 points, 27-28-4). The last time Nashville made the playoffs in 2007-08, it was 30-23-6 (66 points) through 59 games.
CAREER HIGH SHOT TOTALS
Four Predators either set or tied career highs in shots in Wednesday’s game at Madison Square Garden. En route to scoring his second career goal, Colin Wilson put four shots on goal, while fellow rookie Cal O’Reilly fired five shots on net. He had a total of five shots in seven games during his most recent call-up which started Jan. 26 at Columbus. Francis Bouillon also put five shots on goal, tying his 543-NHL-game high set Dec. 1, 2005 vs. Buffalo as a member of the Montreal Canadiens. Finally, Jordin Tootoo put a team-high six shots on net, tying his personal best attained twice before, most recently Nov. 17, 2007 vs. St. Louis.
As a team, the Predators have averaged 34.1 shots over the past 11 games, putting 30-or-more shots on net in eight of those games. Nashville has also limited the opposition to an average of 26.5 shots since the stretch started on Jan. 18 vs. Toronto, giving it a plus-7.6 shot differential. For the season, Nashville is averaging 30.4 shots a game and holds a plus-1.2 shot differential.