TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. EDMONTON
The Predators and Oilers clash for the fourth and final time this season tonight at the Bridgestone Arena, Nashville’s first of 10 home games during the month of March, which ties a franchise record. Since falling to the Oil by a 6-1 score here on Oct. 12, the Predators have taken the last two meetings of the teams, both at Rexall Place. On Jan. 12, Nashville jumped out to a 4-0 lead and cruised to a 5-3 win behind a career-high two-assist/three-point game by Ryan Jones (1g-2a) and 38 saves by Pekka Rinne. The win was Nashville’s fourth of five straight on the road between Dec. 29-Jan. 15. One month prior on Dec. 17 in the NHL’s northern-most city, Nashville doubled-up the home team, winning 6-3 despite giving up the game’s first two goals. Dan Ellis picked up the win in a relief appearance in net, stopping 21-of-22 shots over the final 54:52 of the contest, while Patric Hornqvist tied a career high with two goals and three points. The victory was the sixth road game in a stretch of seven away from Nashville that saw the team go 6-0-1, tying a franchise record for most consecutive road games with a point.
The pair of victories improved Nashville to 13-2-0 in 15 games against Edmonton since the start of the 2006-07 season. It has averaged four goals per game over that span, outscoring the Oilers 60-40 despite being outshot 444-452. In the Music City, the Predators have won seven of eight matchups dating back to Nov. 8, 2005.
Hornqvist paces the Predators in points against Edmonton this season with six (3g-3a) in three games, including a pair of game winners, a power-play goal and a plus-5 rating. He has points (4g-3a) in each of his first four career games against the Oilers… Jones (2g-2a), J.P. Dumont (1g-3a in 2gms) and Marcel Goc (1g-2a) are also clicking at a point-per-game or greater against the Oil this season. Dumont has 22 points (6g-16a) in 14 games against Edmonton since joining the Predators. For his career, he has 24 points (7g-17a) in 22 games against them, which is his highest point-per-game production against a single team (1.09)… Legwand has more career points against Edmonton (10g-18a-28pts in 35gms) than any other non-divisional opponent in the League… Shea Weber has 12 points (6g-6a) in 14 career games against the Oilers.
The Nashville Predators are 1-3-0 all-time in games played on March 2. The Preds fell to St. Louis 5-1 in 1999, at San Jose 4-3, in 2000, and at Calgary 5-2 in 2002. On March 2, 2006 the Preds defeated Vancouver 3-1.
Jason Arnott had points in each of the first two games between the Preds and Oil this season, and sat out the most recent meeting due to injury. He has 12 points (6g-6a) in 13 games against the Oil as a Predator and 25 points (10g-15a) in 28 games since leaving Edmonton – his first NHL team – in 1998. Arnott started his career with Edmonton in 1993-94, establishing a franchise rookie record for goals (33), breaking Jari Kurri’s mark set in 1980-81. He represented Edmonton in the 1997 All-Star Game and accumulated 239 points (100g-139a) in 286 games with the club before being traded to New Jersey on Jan. 4, 1998 along with Bryan Muir for Valeri Zelepukin and Bill Guerin.
WEBER STRIKES OLYMPIC GOLD, EARNS ALL-STAR NOD, SUTER CLAIMS SILVER
The Nashville Predators were well represented at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, led by defenseman Shea Weber, who claimed a gold medal thanks to Canada’s 3-2 overtime victory over the United States in Sunday’s Gold Medal Game. Weber, drafted 49th overall (second round) by Nashville in 2003, was one of just two defensemen (along with United States/Detroit blueliner Brian Rafalski) to be named to the Olympic All-Star Team after he notched a point in six of his nation’s seven tournament games (2g-4a) and ranked second on the team in average ice time (20:37). The Sicamous, B.C., native’s point total tied for second among all defensemen for the competition, and he was one of just four d-men to register multiple goals in the tourney. This was the 6-4, 230-pounder’s third gold medal for Team Canada – he was part of championship-winning teams at the 2005 World Junior Championships and 2007 World Championships in addition to earning silver at the 2009 World Championships.
Weber’s defensive partner, Ryan Suter, earned a silver medal as part of the United States’ Olympic entry, duplicating the finish of his uncle Gary from the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. The Madison, Wis., native led Team USA in average ice time for the tournament (22:50), highlighted by a game-high 31:31 played in the Gold Medal Game – he played 11:38 in the third period and 4:12 of 7:40 in sudden-death overtime. Drafted seventh overall by the Predators in 2003, Suter tied for the tournament lead in plus/minus rating (+9) with Canada’s Jonathan Toews, and amassed four assists in America’s six games.
NASHVILLE’S OTHER OLYMPIANS Patric Hornqvist made his first career Olympic appearance representing Sweden, and scored a goal while playing in all four of the nation’s games. The tally – notched in the quarterfinals against Slovakia – was set up by former Predator Peter Forsberg… Martin Erat donned a Czech Republic sweater at the Olympics for the second straight time in Vancouver. He played all five of his nation's games, registering one assist and a plus-1 rating while averaging 16:03 of ice time… Both Marcel Goc and Alexander Sulzer also played in their second Olympic Games for Team Germany. Goc paced the German squad with two goals and three points in four games in addition to leading all team forwards in ice time (18:22). Sulzer also played in all four of Germany's games, averaging 15:09 of ice time.
PREDATORS IN SHOOTOUTS
Nashville went to the shootout for the third time in seven games last time out against Pittsburgh, winning for the fifth time in the breakaway competition. Nashville shooters have gone 13-for-34 (38.2 percent) this season – tied for the most attempts in team history (with 2006-07), and just one tally off the club record 14 notched in 2006-07. Against the Pens, Cal O’Reilly became the fifth different Predator in 2009-10 to notch a shootout-deciding goal – his first career shootout tally – while Martin Erat converted for the 10th time in his career. Erat’s total ranks second in franchise history to Paul Kariya (12). In net, Dan Ellis stopped both Pittsburgh shooters and has allowed just two goals on 10 attempts this season – the sixth-best save percentage (.800) among NHL netminders seeing at least 10 attempts. Prior to 2009-10, Ellis had allowed 10 goals on 20 shootout attempts. TEAM QUICK HITS
Nashville has put 10-or-more shots on the board in 10 of its last 13 regulation periods played at the Bridgestone Arena… Nashville has been shorthanded just 86 times through 29 home games – an average of 2.97 times per game – tied for the fewest in the League. The Predators are also the least penalized team in the League (9.3 penalty minutes per game)… The Predators are 29-16-3 in games decided by two goals or less – the most wins in the NHL in that situation… Nashville is 18-1-0 when leading after one period – tied with Phoenix for the best record in that situation – and 7-8-2 when trailing after 20 minutes, third behind only Conference leaders Washington and San Jose… The Predators are also 21-4-1 when scoring first, second only to Phoenix… The Predators have posted a 20-6-2 record when recording a power-play goal… The Predators have 12 second-period goals in the last six games, equaling their output from the previous 20 games… Since the start of February (seven games), the Predators have scored eight of their 18 goals on the power play (44.4 percent). In the previous eight games from Jan. 12-30, the club scored 19 of its 20 goals at even strength (5 percent of production on the power play). PLAYER QUICK HITS Jordin Tootoo comes out of the break with goals in three consecutive games for the first time in his career. The output tops his total (2) from his first 28 games of 2009-10… Cal O’Reilly has five points (2g-3a) in his last five games, topping the point total from his previous 22 NHL games dating back to April 4 of last season (4a). The point-per-game stretch includes a career-high three points/assists on Feb. 6 vs. San Jose, a career-high five shots on goal on Feb. 10 at the Rangers and his first power-play goal on Feb. 12 at New Jersey… Jason Arnott has seven points (2g-5a) in his last eight games, and 11 of his 14 goals this season have come on home ice… Dan Ellis won both of his starts during the month of February, posting a 1.92 goals-against average and a .944 save percentage.