TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. PHILADELPHIA
The Predators welcome the Flyers to town for the first time since Dec. 3, 2005 tonight, just the second time in the last three seasons the teams of met. The last Nashville-Philadelphia clash came just more than a year ago on March 7, 2009 at Wachovia Center. That tilt saw the Predators outshoot the home team 32-26, but fall by a 4-1 score. The last time the Flyers visited the Bridgestone Arena, Nashville prevailed 4-3 in a shootout behind a three-point performance by Martin Erat (1g-2a), a two-point outing (1g-1a) and a shootout goal by Paul Kariya, and 30 saves from Tomas Vokoun. The loss made Philadelphia the 29th and final NHL team to fall to the Predators in Nashville. Only seven players who took the ice for Nashville are still with the club today (Erat, Dan Hamhuis, David Legwand, Ryan Suter, Steve Sullivan, Jerred Smithson and Kevin Klein), while two others from that team – Scott Hartnell and Kimmo Timonen – will take to the ice Bridgestone Arena ice tonight for the first time as visitors. The Predators are 1-2-(2)-0 all-time when hosting the Flyers, something they’ve done just twice in the last 10 years. Overall, Nashville is 4-5-(3)-0 in 12 games against Philly.
All-time series highlights: Of the past 10 games between these two teams, five have needed extra time, and three have ended with no winner. On Dec. 19, 1999 and March 25, 2003, the teams skated to 1-1 ties, while on Dec. 12, 2000, the game ended at two goals a side. On Jan. 24, 2002 at Wachovia Center, Nashville prevailed thanks to Denis Arkhipov’s goal at 1:16 of overtime.
The Predators are 2-1-0 with two ties in five all-time in games played on March 16. The Preds lost to Calgary 4-2 in 1999, followed by 2-2 ties with Colorado (2000) and Vancouver (2004). Nashville shutout Phoenix 2-0 in 2006 and went on to defeat LA 4-3 in 2009.
Erat has five points (3g-2a) in five career games against Philadelphia… Marcel Goc tied a career high with two assists the last time he faced Philadelphia – on Oct. 22, 2008 as a member of the San Jose Sharks – and has three helpers in four career games against the Flyers… Shea Weber has assists in each of his first two career games against Philly, while defensive partner Ryan Suter has helpers in two of three games played against the Flyers.
Predators color commentator Terry Crisp was a Flyer from March 5, 1973 when he was acquired from the New York Islanders, until his retirement in October 1976. He racked up 79 points (25g-54a) in 194 regular season games and 20 points (7g-13a) in 47 playoff games, winning the Stanley Cup in 1974 and 1975.
Career highs/highlights attained against the Flyers Kevin Klein – Played his first NHL game on Dec. 3, 2005 Steve Sullivan – Attempted his third of seven career penalty shots on Feb. 25, 2003 (as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks) on Roman Cechmanek (no goal).
RINNE NAMED THIRD STAR OF THE WEEK
Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne was named the NHL’s Third Star of the Week on Monday after backstopping the club to back-to-back victories on its California road trip, posting a 2-0-0 record with a 1.44 goals-against average, .943 save percentage and one shutout in three appearances. He turned aside 31 shots to post his 11th career shutout in a 1-0 victory over Anaheim on Friday, the posted 18 saves in a 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday. Rinne has won four of his five starts, and has a 2.18 goals-against average this month.
THE ROOKIE HITS HIS STRIDE
While playing a career-high 19:00 on Sunday at Los Angeles, predominately on a line with veterans Jason Arnott and Martin Erat, rookie Colin Wilson scored the game-tying goal for Nashville at 6:35 of the third period, giving him five points (3g-2a) in his last five games. Wilson started the season with Nashville, playing his first 10 career games with the club from Oct. 12-31, recording two points (1g-1a) in the process. He spent the next three months with Milwaukee of the AHL, before being recalled by the Predators on Feb. 9. Since then, the seventh overall pick in the 2008 Entry Draft has eight points (5g-3a) in 12 games – tops among rookies since that date. His five goals in that span is good for a tie for first as well.
POWER PLAY CLICKS, ESPECIALLY ON HOME ICE
The Predators have notched a power-play goal in 12 of their last 14 games dating back to a season-best 3-for-5 performance on Feb. 4 vs. Colorado, going 15-for-53 (28.3 percent) with the man-power advantage in that span. The hot streak has moved Nashville from 29th in the NHL’s power-play rankings at the start of February, to 18th currently. Additionally, the power play has accounted for 34.9 percent of the team’s 43 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).
Nashville’s man-up unit has been especially effective on home ice of late – since Jan. 5, the power play has gone 11-for-34 (32.4 percent) at Bridgestone Arena, scoring in 8-of-11 games, including five straight. In that span, its home power play efficiency has improved from 17.3 percent (20th in the NHL) to 21.7 percent (sixth in the NHL). TEAM QUICK HITS
Tonight is the ninth of 17 games for Nashville during March – that is tied with Atlanta for the most this month. It is 5-3-0 thus far… The Predators are 10-4-2 against the Eastern Conference this season, including a 3-1-1 mark against the Atlantic Division… Nashville is 25-8-2 when scoring on the power play as opposed to 13-20-3 when not registering a man-advantage goal… The Predators are giving up just 29.0 shots per game, tied for the seventh-fewest in the League… The Predators are 34-17-3 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 just 92 times through 32 home games – an average of 2.88 times per game – the fewest in the League. Overall, it has been shorthanded 225 times this season (average of 3.26 per game), fourth-fewest in the League. It is averaging the fewest penalty minutes per game in the League (9.0)… The Predators have notched goals in five consecutive first periods, outscoring the opposition 6-3 in that span and outshooting it 62-48 in the process. Nashville has also outshot the competition in 10 of the last 11 second periods, amassing a 132-79 advantage in that span. PLAYER QUICK HITS
The Predators have nine different players with 30-or-more points – only Washington (10), has more… Defenseman Ryan Suter has notched a point in each of Nashville’s last five games (1g-4a), tied for the longest point streak by a Predator this season. He also has points in seven of his last eight outings (1g-6a), moving him into first on the team, and into the Top 20 among NHL blueliners, in assists (30). He also has assists in four consecutive home games. Suter has logged the 11th-most minutes of any player in the League this season (1,658:52) and has played in a team-high 190 consecutive contests… Patric Hornqvist scored his eighth game-winning goal of the season on Sunday at Los Angeles, moving him into a tie for the NHL lead in the category with San Jose’s Dany Heatley. Hornqvist’s three goals in the last three games have brought his season total to 26 tallies. Among players with at least that many goals, the Sollentuna, Sweden native has the fewest NHL games experience (96) and the lowest averaged ice time (15:35). Additionally, he’s put 226 shots on goal – good for 17th in the League – putting him on pace for 269 shots in 2009-10. The franchise record is 251 shots set by Shea Weber last season… Weber is tied for second among NHL blueliners in goals (13), tied for third at the position in power-play goals (7), and tied for fourth among d-men in game winners (4). He’s also second in shots (185) and tied for 13th in points (38)… Jason Arnott has assists in back-to-back games, and in seven of the last nine contests (3g-4a). Arnott also has seven points (4g-3a) in his last five games in Nashville, including goals in three straight home contests. Fourteen of Arnott’s 17 goals have come on home ice, including the last eight… Steve Sullivan has been particularly good of late at home – he has notched assists in nine of Nashville's last 11 home games, amassing 11 points (2g-9a) in that span… Martin Erat has eight points (1g-7a) in his last nine games, and 34 points (15g-19a) in 39 games played since the start of December after posting nine points (4g-5a) in his first 23 games of 2009-10… Dan Hamhuis has assists in seven of Nashville’s last 12 games. He had 10 assists in his first 53 games of the season.