TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. DETROIT
The Predators take to the Joe Louis Arena ice for the second of three times in 2009-10 tonight, having gone 1-1-1 in their previous three games against the Red Wings this season. The last time these teams met on Jan. 29 in the Motor City, Nashville outshot the home team 48-20, setting a franchise record for shots in a road game while tying the third-largest shot advantage in club history (plus-19). The Predators received goals from defensemen Francis Bouillon and Shea Weber, but fell by a 4-2 score. On Dec. 12, Nashville rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the second-half of regulation on goals by Ryan Jones and Detroit native David Legwand to force overtime, but Todd Bertuzzi ended the game just 24 seconds into the extra session, the quickest overtime goal against in franchise history. Nashville won the first meeting of the clubs on Nov. 23, a 3-1 decision at the Bridgestone Arena, behind a pair of goals by Martin Erat and a 30-save effort by Pekka Rinne. Nashville has points in five of its last six outings against Detroit dating back to last February, going 4-1-1 in that span. At Joe Louis Arena, the Preds have won two of the last three, and are 7-8-4 since the start of the 2003-04 campaign after going 1-10-3 from 1998-99 through 2002-03.
This season, Nashville is outshooting Detroit by a 110-89 margin – an average of 36.7-29.7 – which includes an 82-54 advantage over the final 40 minutes of regulation. In the first 10 seasons of Predators hockey, they never outshot Detroit in a season – Detroit had a 2,218-1,650 shot advantage (plus-568) from 1998-99 to 2008-09, which averages out to 35.2-26.2 over 63 games. Nashville’s power play has been especially effective against the Red Wings in the last eight games, dating back to the beginning of the 2008-09 season, going 10-for-35 (28.6 percent) in that span – the unit is 3-for-12 in the three games this season.
The Preds are 2-2-1 all-time in games played on March 5. Nashville dropped its first two games on this date, 3-2 at Anaheim in 1999 and 1-0 at Anaheim in 2000, but have since gone 2-0-1 in March 5 games. Nashville shut out San Jose on the road in 2002 with a 2-0 victory and picked up an overtime point vs. Edmonton (2-3 OTL) in 2006. Last season, the Nashville Predators defeated Columbus 4-2 at home.
Since notching his eighth career hat trick against Detroit on Feb. 28, 2009, Jason Arnott has eight points (5g-3a) in eight games against Detroit, and 14 points (6g-8a) in his last 16 games against them… Steve Sullivan has 10 points (3g-7a) in eight games against Detroit since returning from a nearly two-year absence due to injury. He has 19 points (6g-13a) in 19 games against Detroit as a Predator… Since the start of the 2007-08 season, J.P. Dumont has 16 points (3g-13a) in 17 games against Detroit… A native of Detroit, David Legwand has points in two of the first three Preds-Wings games this season, and 32 points (12g-20a) in 48 career games against his hometown team… Rinne is 4-1-1 in six career starts against Detroit, posting a 2.31 goals-against average and .931 save percentage… Predators Associate Coach Brent Peterson was Detroit’s second pick, 12th overall (first round), in the 1978 Entry Draft. He played 91 games with the Wings from 1978-82, amassing 28 points (8g-20a).
Career highs/highlights attained against the Red Wings
Jason Arnott – Eighth career hat trick on Feb. 28, 2009.
Cal O’Reilly – Registered his first career point in his first career game on Feb. 28, 2009. Pekka Rinne – Saw a career-high 50 shots (46 saves) on Feb. 10, 2009. Steve Sullivan – Racked up a career-high 22 penalty minutes on April 10, 2002 (with Chicago). Shea Weber – Played his first NHL game on Jan. 6, 2006 (3-1 Detroit win).
TROTZ CLOSES IN ON 400
Head Coach Barry Trotz – Nashville’s head coach since Day 1 – won his 399th game behind the Predators bench last night. His next win will make him just the seventh coach in NHL history to win 400 games with one team. TEAM QUICK HITS
Tonight is the third of 17 games for Nashville during March – that is tied with Atlanta for the most this month… Tonight wraps up the 12th of 15 back-to-backs the Predators play in 2009-10. They are 7-4-0 on the back end, most recently topping the New York Rangers 2-1 on Feb. 10 and beating Atlanta 4-3 on Jan. 30 the night after their last trip to Detroit… The Predators are a League-best 19-1-0 when leading after one period, but have also posted a 7-8-2 record when trailing after 20 minutes – fourth-best in the NHL… The Predators are also 21-4-1 when scoring first, second only to Phoenix… The Predators have scored in eight straight second periods, amassing 14 middle-frame markers in that span… Since the start of February (eight games), the Predators have scored 10 of their 26 goals on the power play (38.5 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 213 times this season (average of 3.4 per game), fourth-fewest in the League. The Predators are also the least penalized team in the League (9.2 penalty minutes per game)… Nashville is 35-23-5 (75 points) through 63 games, nine points ahead of last season’s 62-game pace (31-28-4, 66 points) and three points ahead of the pace set in 2007-08 when it last made the playoffs (32-23-8, 72 points).
THE POWER PLAY PRODUCES
The Predators scored a power-play goal for the eighth consecutive game, going 1-for-5 on the evening. The streak, which started with a season-best 3-for-5 performance on Feb. 4 vs. Colorado, is the longest since Nashville scored a man-advantage marker in eight straight from Dec. 12-26, 2006. A streak of nine-or-more straight with a man-advantage marker has only been attained three times in franchise history, most recently Dec. 10-28, 2005. The Predators are 10-for-36 during the eight-game span (27.8 percent) and have posted a 22-6-2 record when recording a power-play goal. On the road, Nashville has a man-advantage marker in four straight.
PREDS ON THE ROAD
Nashville headed into Thursday night’s games ranked third in even-strength road goals (72), and tied for sixth in road goals (90) and seventh in road goals per game (2.81). It is also a plus-11 in non-power-play goals scored away from home, third-best in the League… The Predators won their 17th road game of the season the last time they took to the ice away from Bridgestone Arena on Feb. 14 at Pittsburgh, topping their road win total from a season ago with nine away games remaining. They are just one victory 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.
Individually, German Olympian Marcel Goc has 16 points (8g-8a) in his last 17 road games, and 17 (8g-9a) of his 22 points this season have come on the road. A season ago, he posted five points (1g-4a) in 27 road games for San Jose. Goc has also scored eight of his career-high 11 goals on the road… Shea Weber has an NHL defensemen high nine of his 12 goals away from home. PLAYER QUICK HITS Joel Ward became the eighth Predator to hit the 30-point mark on Thursday – only Washington (10) has more. Nashville also has nine different players with 10-or-more goals – only Washington (11) has more… Jason Arnott has goals in back-to-back games, points (2g-1a) in three straight, and nine points (4g-5a) in his last 10 games. Thirteen of Arnott’s 16 goals have come on home ice, including seven straight dating back to Dec. 5… Martin Erat posted his third multi-assist performance of the season vs. Los Angeles, giving him points (1g-3a) in three consecutive games. He has 30 points (15g-15a) in 33 games played since Dec. 2 after posting nine points (4g-5a) in his first 23 games of 2009-10… Dan Hamhuis has assists in back-to-back games, and helpers in four of the last six after posting only two assists in his previous 24 outings… Ryan Suter collected an assist for the second straight game last night, and was also a +2. Since the start of December, he’s a +14, which is tied for fifth-highest among NHL blueliners. Defensive partner Shea Weber was also a +2, and has three points (2g-1a) in his last three games… Marcel Goc built on a career high in goals last night with his 11th of the season, and tied a career high in points with his 22nd of the campaign. He has three points (1g-2a) in his last three games… Jerred Smithson’s eighth goal of the season last night set a career high… Joel Ward has assists in back-to-back games, and the team is 21-1-1 this season when he has a point… Last night, Pekka Rinne got the start for the eighth time in the last 10 games, improving to 4-2-2 in the stretch.