TODAY’S STORYLINES VS. LOS ANGELES
The Predators and Kings hook up for first of three times during the month of March tonight at the Bridgestone Arena, L.A.’s first trip to the venue in more than 11 months (March 28, 2009). Nashville has won the past five games between these two clubs dating back to Oct. 25, 2008, and seven-of-eight since Dec. 22, 2007. The lone meeting of the clubs this season came in a matinee game at the Staples Center on Nov. 7. Dan Ellis stopped 27-of-28 shots in the victory, while Francis Bouillon opened the scoring with his first goal as a Predator and Cody Franson notched his first career game-winning goal as part of a two-point effort (1g-1a). Martin Erat posted a pair of assists, while Joel Ward scored Nashville’s other goal. On home ice, the Predators have won back-to-back contests against Los Angeles, and six-of-eight since the start of 2005-06. In the Kings last trip to Nashville at the end of last March, Nashville prevailed thanks to a Steve Sullivan goal 3:41 into overtime. He also added two helpers, while Erat assisted on all four Nashville goals, a career high and tied for the second-highest assist total in franchise history. Nashville’s power play has been particularly effective against the Kings going back to the start of the 2005-06 campaign, going 22-for-77 (28.6 percent) over the last 17 games.
Since the start of last season, Erat has nine points (1g-8a) in five games against L.A… Shea Weber has nine points (5g-4a) in 10 games vs. Los Angeles, including four points (3g-1a) in his last four games… Ward has five points (3g-2a) in five career games against the Kings… Los Angeles is one of two teams (Edmonton is the other) that J.P. Dumont is averaging a point-per-game against for his career – he has 21 points (10g-11a) in 21 career games against the Kings, including 16 points (7g-9a) in 12 games as a Predator… Arnott’s next point against L.A. will be his 50th career point against the club. It would be the third club he has reached the half-century in points against, joining Phoenix (54) and San Jose (50). Nashville’s captain has 12 points (7g-5a) in nine games against L.A. as a Predator, and notched his seventh career hat trick against the Kings on Dec. 22, 2007… Steve Sullivan has 10 points (3g-7a) in nine games against L.A. as a Predator, and 30 points (9g-21a) in 33 career games against them.
Nashville is 4-0-3 all-time in games played on March 4, including a 1-0-1 mark against the LA Kings. The Preds won 4-3 in LA on March 4, 1999, before picking up an overtime point vs. the Kings one year later. The Preds came out on top of a 5-2 decision in 2001 against the New York Rangers, before dropping an overtime decision 2-1 to St. Louis in 2003. Nashville won in Pittsburgh 9-4 in 2004, lost 3-2 in a shootout to Anaheim in 2007, and then defeated the Oilers in Edmonton 5-1 in 2008.
The newest member of the Nashville Predators, Denis Grebeshkov, was drafted 18th overall by the Kings in the 2002 Entry Draft. He played his first 12 NHL games with L.A. in 2003-04 and 2005-06, notching three assists. On March 8, 2006, the Russian Olympian was dealt to the New York Islanders (along with Jeff Tambellini) for Mark Parrish and Brent Sopel… Jerred Smithson started his NHL career with Los Angeles, playing 30 games (3a) with the Kings between 2002-04. He also played three seasons with L.A.’s AHL affiliate in Manchester (2001-04), amassing 63 points (16g-47a) in 182 games.
Career highs/highlights attained against the Kings
Dan Ellis – First career game and win (with Dallas) on Feb. 8, 2004. Martin Erat – Career-high four assists/points on March 28, 2009. Patric Hornqvist – Career-high two assists on Oct. 25, 2008. David Legwand – Second of three career penalty shots on Nov. 5, 2005 against Jason LaBarbara (no goal). TEAM QUICK HITS
Tonight is the second of 17 games for Nashville during March – that is tied with Atlanta for the most this month… Tonight is the 12th of 15 back-to-backs the Predators play in 2009-10. They are 4-6-1 on the front end of back-to-backs and 7-4-0 on the back end… The Predators are a League-best 19-1-0 when leading after one period… Since Jan. 5, the Nashville power play has gone 9-for-27 (33.3 percent) at Bridgestone Arena. In that span, its home power play efficiency has improved from 17.3 percent (20th in the NHL) to 21.3 percent (seventh in the NHL)… The Predators are 30-16-3 in games decided by two goals or less – the most wins in the NHL in that situation… The Predators are also 21-4-1 when scoring first, second only to Phoenix… Nashville scored in all three periods for the first time in eight games on Tuesday, and scored in the second period for the seventh straight game. It has 13 middle-frame markers in that span, matching its output from the previous 21 games… Since the start of February (seven games), the Predators have scored nine of their 22 goals on the power play (40.9 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)… Nashville has been shorthanded just 88 times through 30 home games – an average of 2.93 times per game – tied for the fewest in the League. Overall, it has been shorthanded 210 times this season (average of 3.4 per game), fourth-fewest. The Predators are also the least penalized team in the League (9.3 penalty minutes per game)… Nashville is 34-23-5 (73 points) through 62 games, nine points ahead of last season’s 62-game pace (30-28-4, 64 points) and two points ahead of the pace set in 2007-08 when it last made the playoffs (32-23-7, 71 points).
GREBESHKOV STARS IN HIS PREDATORS DEBUT
Acquired from Edmonton on Monday afternoon, defenseman Denis Grebeshkov wasted no time making his presence felt in the Predators lineup, notching a goal and an assist against his former team en route to First Star of the Game honors on Tuesday. The assist came in his fourth shift with the club – on Colin Wilson’s goal at 12:14 of the first – and his goal came on his fifth shift – at 14:55 of the opening frame. The goal was his seventh of the season, tying a career high set last season and making him the first Predator to score in his club debut since Joel Ward in the 2008-09 season opener at St. Louis on Oct. 10, 2008. The multi-point performance was the first by a Predator in his team debut since Steve Sullivan notched a hat trick and four points on Feb. 18, 2004 vs. San Jose.
MEDALISTS MAKE AN IMMEDIATE IMPACT IN THEIR RETURN
Both Olympic gold medalist Shea Weber and silver medalist Ryan Suter got on the scoresheet in their first game back from the 2010 Games, with Weber scoring Nashville’s third goal, on the power play. Suter recorded the assist, giving him helpers on half of Weber’s 12 goals this season and on five of his six power-play goals. He also led the team in ice time in the win (22:24).
Weber, who has goals in back-to-back games for the 10th time in his career but has never had a marker in three straight, is tied for second among NHL blueliners in markers. The man-advantage marker moved him into a tie for third at the position and just one off the League lead among d-men. It was just Weber’s third goal he’s scored at home all season – he paces defenders in road goals (9). The Sicamous, B.C., native is also tied for 12th at the position in points (36). Including the Olympics, Weber had points (4g-5a) in eight of his last nine games played.