TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. VANCOUVER
Tonight, the Predators play their last of 15 games against Canada-based teams in 2009-10 as the Vancouver Canucks come to town for the second time. Nashville has won two of the previous three meetings between the clubs this season, including both the most recent matchup and the last game on Bridgestone Arena ice. The last time these teams met was at GM Place on Jan. 10 in a game the Preds took by a 3-2 score behind Shea Weber’s power-play goal with just 4:03 left in regulation. All three Nashville goals that night were scored on special teams, as Joel Ward kicked the contest off with a shorthanded marker, while Ryan Jones added a man-advantage marker with just 28 seconds left in the opening frame. Dan Ellis earned the win by making 30-of-32 saves. The last time Vancouver came to town was also the first meeting of the clubs – Dec. 8 – in a game that saw Martin Erat notch a one goal in each period to post his second career hat trick. Erat also assisted on Nashville’s other goal by Patric Hornqvist in the 4-2 win to tie a career high with four points. Jason Arnott and Steve Sullivan both picked up a pair of assists in the game, while Pekka Rinne stopped 34-of-36 shots in the win. The Canucks won their game on Dec. 22 by a 4-1 decision in the Pacific Northwest, Nashville’s final game before the Christmas break. The Predators 2-1-0 record has come despite being outshot 104-72 (avg. of 34.7-24.0) in the three games. Of their eight goals, five have come via special teams – the Nashville power play has gone 4-for-15 (26.7 percent) in addition to Ward’s man-down marker.
Since dropping six straight to the Canucks between Dec. 6, 2007 and Jan. 1, 2009, the Predators have claimed three of four games. Overall in the past four-plus seasons, the Predators are 9-8-2 against the Canucks.
The Nashville Predators are 4-3-0 all-time in games played on March 7. The Predators split their first four decisions: a 4-3 loss to Phoenix in 1999, a 3-1 win versus Chicago in 2000, a 3-2 loss to LA in 2002, and a 2-1 win over Dallas in 2003. Nashville knocked off Calgary in 2006 (3-2) and 2008 (2-1 overtime), before dropping a 4-1 decision to Philadelphia last season.
All-time series highlight: Nashville has shutout Vancouver three times since the start of the 2005-06 campaign, with most notable coming on Thanksgiving Day 2006. That night – in a 6-0 rout that saw Scott Hartnell lead the way with three points (2g-1a), and four other Predators post two-point outings – neither Nashville goaltender was awarded a shutout. Instead, Tomas Vokoun and Chris Mason split the white wash – the only time in team history that has occurred. Vokoun played the first two periods of the game, stopping 21 shots, before giving way to Mason because of a hand injury. Mason turned aside all 13 shots he faced in the final frame to secure the blanking.
Thanks in-large part to his four-point outing against the ‘Nucks on Dec. 8, Erat has seven points (4g-3a) in his last seven games against Vancouver dating back to the start of 2008-09… Since joining the Predators, Sullivan has 10 points (3g-7a) in 10 games against Vancouver, and 30 points (15g-15a) against the Canucks for his career… Arnott accounted for a game-high six of Nashville’s 21 shots in the meeting on Dec. 22, but did not play in the Jan. 11 game. He has 41 points (18g-23a) in 52 games against Vancouver for his career… Hornqvist has 15 shots and two goals against Vancouver this season. He put a game-high seven shots on goal in the Jan. 11 contest.
Career highs/highlights attained involving the Canucks Joel Ward – First NHL game on Dec. 16, 2006 (with Minnesota) Shea Weber – Career-high 10 shots on Feb. 21, 2008. TEAM QUICK HITS
Today is Nashville’s only home matinee of the season. They have won afternoon games at Los Angeles (Nov. 7) and at Pittsburgh (Feb. 14) this season, and play two more on the road – March 14 at Los Angeles and April 3 at Detroit. Since the start of the 2006-07 season, the Predators are 12-3-2 in afternoon games… Today is the fourth of 17 games for Nashville during March – that is tied with Atlanta for the most this month… Since Jan. 5, the Nashville power play has gone 10-for-32 (31.3 percent) at Bridgestone Arena. In that span, its home power play efficiency has improved from 17.3 percent (20th in the NHL) to 21.2 percent (eighth in the NHL)… Nashville has been shorthanded just 91 times through 31 home games – an average of 2.94 times per game – tied for second-fewest in the League. Overall, Nashville has been shorthanded 216 times this season (average of 3.4 per game), fourth-fewest in the League… The Predators are 11-6-1 this season against the Northwest Division after going 7-13-0 against its teams in 2008-09… The Predators have scored in nine straight second periods, amassing 15 middle-frame markers in that span… The Predators are a League-best 19-1-0 when leading after one period, but have also posted a 7-9-2 record when trailing after 20 minutes – fifth-best in the NHL… The Predators are also 21-4-1 when scoring first, second only to Phoenix, but have also amassed 14 wins when trailing first, tied for the fourth-highest total in the League… Since the start of February (nine games), the Predators have scored 10 of their 30 goals on the power play (33.3 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)… The Predators are 31-16-3 in games decided by two goals or less – the most wins in the NHL in that situation.
PREDATORS REMAIN STRONG ON HOME ICE
Since the NHL reconvened for the 2005-06 campaign, Nashville has been among the League’s best on home ice, amassing 125 victories in 154 games on Bridgestone Arena ice. That total is tied for second in the NHL with New Jersey, behind only Detroit who has 129 wins at Joe Louis Arena. The Predators have been consistent in amassing their win total as well – they are one of just four teams (along with the Red Wings, Devils and Wild) to post 23-or-more home victories in each of the past four seasons. With 10 home games left, Nashville is just five wins shy of the mark in 2009-10.
TROTZ CLOSES IN ON 400
Head Coach Barry Trotz – Nashville’s head coach since Day 1 – won his 399th game behind the Predators bench on Thursday vs. Los Angeles. His next win will make him just the seventh coach in NHL history to win 400 games with one team. PLAYER QUICK HITS
The Predators have eight different players with 30-or-more points – only Washington (10) and Philadelphia (9) have more. Nashville also has nine different players with 10-or-more goals – only Washington (11) has more… Dan Hamhuis has recorded an assist three consecutive games – the last time he had such a streak was when he tallied an assist in games No. 2-5 of the 2007-08 season (5a, Oct. 6-13, 2007). Hamhuis has helpers in five of the last seven games (5a), after recording just three points (1g-2a) in his previous 23 games. Eighteen (4g-14a) of Hamhuis’ 19 points (4g-14a) this season have come at even strength… Steve Sullivan has assists in three straight games, but has been particularly good of late at home – he has notched assists in nine of Nashville's last 10 home games, amassing 11 points (2g-9a) in that span… Joel Ward has points in three straight (1g-2a) games, and since returning from a three-game absence due to injury on Jan. 30, he has points (5g-3a) in 7-of-11 contests. Ward tied a career high with his 18th assist of the season on Thursday, and the team is 21-2-1 this season when he has a point. Additionally, Ward has points (3g-2a) in four of his last five games at Bridgestone Arena… Jason Arnott has six points (3g-3a) in his last four games in Nashville, including goals in back-to-back home contests. The Nashville captain has scored 13 of his 16 goals this season on home ice, including seven straight dating back to Dec. 5… Ryan Suter has assists (3a) in three straight home games… Martin Erat has four points (1g-3a) in his last four games, and 30 points (15g-15a) in 34 games played since Dec. 2 after posting nine points (4g-5a) in his first 23 games of 2009-10… J.P. Dumont scored his 200th career goal on Friday, giving him goals in back-to-back games for the first time in nearly one year (March 12-14, 2009)… Pekka Rinne has started eight of Nashville’s last 11 games, going 4-2-2 in that stretch.