TODAY’S STORYLINES VS. LOS ANGELES
The Nashville Predators pay a visit to the Staples Center for the second and final time in 2009-10 this afternoon, the second of three meetings between the Predators and Kings during the month of March. Ten days ago – in Nashville’s second game back from the Olympic break, the Predators scored three straight after giving up the game’s first goal, and cruised to a 4-2 win over the Kings at Bridgestone Arena. The victory was Nashville’s sixth straight over the Kings dating back to Oct. 25, 2008. It has also won eight-of-nine since Dec. 22, 2007. In the Preds first trip to Tinseltown 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). The Predators have won four straight at Staples Center dating back to Jan. 8, 2008 and are 6-1-0 at the venue since the start of the 2006-07 campaign.
The Predators have outshot the Kings 57-50 through two games thanks in-large part to big second periods – they’ve amassed a 25-9 shot advantage, and have outscored L.A. 2-0 in the process. Nashville’s power play has also been particularly effective against the Kings going back to the start of the 2005-06 campaign, going 23-for-82 (28 percent) over the last 18 games.
Martin Erat has posted a pair of assists in each of Nashville’s game vs. Los Angeles this season to pace the team in points. Erat set a career high and tied the second-highest assist total in franchise history in the final meeting between the teams a season ago, and has 11 points (1g-10a) in his last six games against L.A… Jason Arnott scored Nashville’s second goal of the game on March 4, his 20th career goal and 50th career
The Predators are 3-1-2 all-time in games played on March 14. Nashville picked up a win against the Edmonton Oiler in 1999, 3-1. The Preds then lost in 2000 in overtime 3-2 to the Detroit Red Wings, in regulation in 2003, 3-1 to the Minnesota Wild, and then again in overtime in 2004 once again to the Red Wings 3-2. Nashville shutout the Vancouver Canucks 5-0 in 2006 and then shutout the Phoenix Coyotes 2-0 in 2009.
point against Los Angeles, making it one of three teams – along with Phoenix (54) and San Jose (50) – that he’s reached the half-century in points against. Nashville’s captain has 13 points (8g-5a) in 10 games against L.A. as a Predator, and notched his seventh career hat trick against the Kings on Dec. 22, 2007… Joel Ward has points in each of the team’s two games against Los Angeles this season, and six points (3g-3a) in six 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 scored Nashville’s first goal of the game 10 days ago, and has 22 points (11g-11a) in 22 career games against the Kings, including 17 points (8g-9a) in 13 games as a Predator… Steve Sullivan has 11 points (3g-8a) in 10 games against L.A. as a Predator, and 31 points (9g-22a) in 34 career games against them… Shea Weber has nine points (5g-4a) in 11 games vs. Los Angeles, including four points (3g-1a) in his last five games… Pekka Rinne is a perfect 3-0-0 against L.A. for his career, while Dan Ellis is 5-1-0.
Jerred Smithson – who scored his eighth goal of the season against Los Angeles on March 4 to set a career high – started his NHL career with the Kings, 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).
POWER PLAY PROFICIENCY
By going 1-for-4 with the man advantage on Friday at Anaheim, the Predators made it 12 times in their last 13 games they’ve tallied at least one power-play goal. During the stretch – which started with a season-best 3-for-5 performance on Feb. 4 vs. Colorado – Nashville has gone 15-for-52 (28.8 percent), moving it from 29th in the NHL’s power-play rankings prior to the streak, to 17th. Additionally, the power play has accounted for 35 percent of the team’s 40 goals during the stretch after being responsible for 5 percent of the club’s goals in the previous eight games from Jan. 12-30 (1-of-20).
RINNE POSTS CAREER SHUTOUT NUMBER 11
In his 100th career NHL appearance on Friday at Anaheim, Pekka Rinne stopped all 31 shots he faced for his 11th career shutout – all of which have come in the last 15-and-a-half months. The whitewash moved him to within one of Chris Mason’s total as a Predator, which ranks second in franchise history. In Rinne’s 11 shutouts, he’s received more than two goals of offensive support just once – he has won by 2-0 decisions on five occasions and 1-0 decisions on four occasions. His shutout on Feb. 4 ended in a 1-0 shootout win for Phoenix. The 31 saves were the second-most the sophomore netminder has made in a shutout behind a 32-save performance vs. Minnesota on Dec. 6, 2008.
WEBER SCORES ON THE ROAD
Olympic Gold Medalist Shea Weber scored the lone goal of the game on Friday at Anaheim – on the power play – helping Nashville to its 1-0 victory. It was Weber’s 13th goal of the season, and seventh on the power play, moving him into a tie for second among NHL blueliners in both categories. It was also his third game winner – one off the defensive League lead. Ten of his 13 total goals have been scored on the road, which stands alone in first among NHL defensemen. The 6-4, 230-pounder’s tallies have come evenly distributed, with four in each regulation period and another in overtime; Nashville is 10-1-1 when he scores. The Sicamous, B.C., native has points in back-to-back games (1g-1a), and five points (3g-2a) in his last six games played, putting him in a tie for 13th at the position in points (38). TEAM QUICK HITS
By winning their 19th road game of the season in their 36th try on Friday in Anaheim, the 2009-10 Predators hit the second-highest road win total in franchise history and moved within four of the franchise record (23) set in 2006-07. The total also was tied for third in the League prior to Saturday’s games… Today is Nashville’s third of four matinee games it plays this season – it has won afternoon games at Los Angeles (Nov. 7) and at Pittsburgh (Feb. 14) while falling at home to Vancouver last Sunday. The team’s last day game comes April 3 at Detroit. Since the start of the 2006-07 season, the Predators are 12-4-2 in afternoon games… Today is the eighth of 17 games for Nashville during March – that is tied with Atlanta for the most this month… Nashville is 24-8-2 when scoring on the power play as opposed to 13-20-3 when not registering a man-advantage goal… The Predators rank second in the League in even-strength road goals (78), and third in the NHL in overall road goals (100)… The Predators are 33-17-3 in games decided by two goals or less – the most wins in the NHL in that situation… Nashville is also an NHL-best 21-1-0 when leading after one period… Nashville has been shorthanded 224 times this season (average of 3.29 per game), fifth-fewest in the League. It is averaging the fewest penalty minutes per game in the League (9.0). PLAYER QUICK HITS Ryan Suter assisted on a Shea Weber goal for the seventh time this season on Friday at Anaheim, extending his point streak to a season-high four games (1g-3a), and giving him points in six of his last seven outings (1g-5a)… Jason Arnott recorded the other assist on Weber’s goal, giving him points in six of the last eight games (3g-3a)… Martin Erat has seven points (1g-6a) in his last eight games, and 33 points (15g-18a) in 38 games played since the start of December after posting nine points (4g-5a) in his first 23 games of 2009-10… Since the beginning of December, Patric Hornqvist has amassed all nine of his power-play goals. That total entered Saturday’s games tied for second in the NHL since the beginning of 2009’s final month… J.P. Dumont has four goals in his last six games, equaling his output from his previous 21 games played. His second goal on Thursday at San Jose was the 500th point of his career, and he is just two assists away from 300 career helpers… Rookie Colin Wilson has four points (2g-2a) in his last four games and seven points (4g-3a) in 10 games since being recalled on Feb. 9. In his first 10 NHL games from Oct. 12-31, he recorded two points (1g-1a)… Rookie Cody Franson has accumulated 14 (4g-10a) of his 18 points (5g-13a) in 28 road games – that total leads all first-year defensemen. Franson is a plus-13 on the road, which is tied for sixth in the entire NHL, and tied for third among League d-men.