TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. PHOENIX
Nashville hosts the Phoenix Coyotes for the second and final time in 2009-10 tonight, the third of four matchups between the teams. The last time these teams met was in a tightly contested defensive contest on Feb. 2 at Bridgestone Arena. That night, both Pekka Rinne (26 saves) and Ilya Bryzgalov (25 saves) recorded shutouts – the fourth time in franchise history the Predators have played a game that featured no goals in regulation/overtime. The subsequent shootout went a franchise-record 10 rounds/20 shooters, with the Desert Dogs eventually prevailing 2-1 in the breakaway competition, and 1-0 in the game. In the first meeting of the season on Jan. 21 in Arizona, the Predators held a 2-1 lead through 40 minutes, but gave up three goals to a single player (Scottie Upshall) for the first time in franchise history in the third, and fell by a 4-2 score. The Preds outshot the ‘Yotes 43-23 for the game, marking just the third time in franchise history the club has outshot the opposition by 20-or-more in a road game. Patric Hornqvist scored Nashville’s first goal of the game and his 20th of the season in the loss, making him just the seventh Predators draft pick to hit the mark for the club. The two teams have combined for just eight penalty minutes through two games – each team was assessed a minor on Feb. 2, and the Predators went without a penalty in a road game for the first time in franchise history on Jan. 21. Neither team has a power-play goal in the combined four man-advantage attempts.
On home ice, the Predators have points in four straight (3-0-1) vs. Phoenix dating back to Feb. 2, 2008. In 11 games since the start of the 2003-04 campaign, Nashville is 8-1-(1)-1 on home ice against the Coyotes, outscoring them 31-17 in that span.
With an assist in the Jan. 21 game, and an even 54 points (20g-34a) in 54 games, Jason Arnott has more points against the Coyotes than any other team over the course of his career. This includes 12 points (5g-7a) in 11 games against them as a Predator… Steve Sullivan, who had the only other assist in the Jan. 21 game, has 15 points (6g-9a) in 13 contests against Phoenix while wearing a Nashville sweater… Pekka Rinne has two shutouts in four career games against Phoenix – in the shootout loss on Feb. 2, and on March 14, 2009. That was the seventh whitewash of his rookie campaign, a franchise record. He has a 0.49 goals-against average and a .980 save percentage against the Coyotes for his career.
The Preds are 2-2-0 with two ties in six all-time games played on March 25. Nashville dropped a 2-1 decision to Calgary in 2000, followed by consecutive Mar. 25 ties in 2002 (3-3 vs. Detroit) and 2003 (1-1 vs. Philadelphia). On March 25, 2004 the Nashville defeated the New York Rangers 4-2 in New York. In 2006 the Preds lost 6-4 to LA, but rebounded to shutout Columbus 3-0 in 2008.
Career highs/highlights attained against the Coyotes Martin Erat – A career-high nine shots on goal on Feb. 26, 2009.
J.P. Dumont – His second career (and most recent) penalty shot on Feb. 19, 2007 on goalie Curtis Joseph (goal).
All-time series highlights: Two notable franchise firsts involving Predator netminders have occurred when playing the Coyotes. The first was on Jan. 15, 1999, when Tomas Vokoun – who started the team’s inaugural season third on the goaltending depth chart stopped all 31 shots he faced to author the first shutout in franchise history against the Phoenix Coyotes in the team’s 42nd game. Cliff Ronning, who started the season with the Coyotes, came back to haunt his former team by scoring a power-play goal in the first period, and sealed the deal with an empty netter at 19:01 of the third. The then-22-year-old Vokoun was lights out in just the 15th start of his rookie season, withstanding 24 shots over the final two periods, which included stoning Juha Ylonen and Shane Doan on breakaways in the second frame.
The second came in the second-to-last game of the 2005-06 season, on April 15, 2005, when Chris Mason was credited with the first-ever goal by a Nashville goaltender as the Predators defeated the visiting Phoenix Coyotes by a 5-1 score. Mason, who was the last Nashville player to touch the puck before Phoenix inadvertently passed it into their vacated net on a delayed penalty call, won his fifth straight game and became only the ninth NHL goaltender to be credited with a goal.
Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne has started 10 of Nashville’s 13 games during the month of March – including seven straight – posting an 8-2-0 record, a 1.88 goals-against average, .927 save percentage and three shutouts. No one has more shutouts than Rinne since the Olympic break, while he ranks among the NHL’s best in the other three categories as well. Last week, he was named the NHL’s First Star after posting back-to-back shutouts and a whitewash streak of 149:04, the second-longest in franchise history, and two weeks ago he earned Third Star of the Week accolades. His hot stretch has vaulted him into second on the franchise’s shutout list (13), and he’s currently tied with Chris Mason for third on the franchise’s all-time wins list with 58 victories (Tomas Vokoun, 161; Mike Dunham, 81). Twenty-eight of those wins have come in 2009-10, just one shy of his total last season, which was the eighth-most by a rookie goaltender in NHL history TEAM QUICK HITS
Tonight is the 14th of 17 games for Nashville during March – that is tied with Atlanta for the most this month. It has posted a 9-4-0 record thus far… Nashville has allowed just 10 goals in the last seven games, posting a team goals-against average of 1.41 over that span. In the seven games, it has outscored the opposition by a combined 11-4 in the opening 40 minutes of those games… Nashville has been shorthanded on home ice the fewest times in the League (102, 2.83 per game). Overall, it is averaging just 8.8 penalty minutes per game, fewest in the NHL… The Predators are 37-18-3 in games decided by two goals or less – the most wins in the NHL in that situation… Since Jan. 5, the power play has gone 12-for-43 (27.9 percent) at Bridgestone Arena, and has scored in six of the last eight games… The Predators are 23-14-2 when outshooting the opposition, fourth-best in the NHL… Nashville is 9-0-0 in one-goal games since Feb. 10… Nashville is an NHL-best 23-1-0 when leading after one period, but also has the League’s second-best record when trailing after one frame (8-9-2)… The Predators are 26-5-1 when scoring first, good for second in the NHL, but also have 16 wins when giving up the first goal, tied for the third-highest total in the League… Nashville’s 89 points through 74 games is nine points ahead of its 74-game pace from the last two seasons. PLAYER QUICK HITS
Olympic Gold Medalist Shea Weber tallied his 14th goal of the season on Tuesday, moving him into a tie for third among NHL blueliners in the category. The tally also brought Weber to within one point of his third 40-point season in the last three campaigns. Weber is also tied for fourth among d-men in power-play goals (7) and second at the position in shots (197)… Patric Hornqvist has seven points (5g-2a) in his last eight games. The Swedish Olympian’s 28 goals this season are the most by a Nashville draft pick in a Predators sweater, and a 26-goal increase from his rookie season in 2008-09, making him just the ninth player in the last nine seasons dating back to 2000-01 to experience such an increase when playing at least 20 games the season prior. Hornqvist is also second in the League in game-winning goals (8), and his power-play goal total since the beginning of December (10), is tied for second-highest in the NHL… Steve Sullivan picked up an assist on Weber’s goal on Tuesday, giving him five points (2g-3a) in the last six outings. In Nashville’s 16 home games since the calendar turned to 2010, he has 14 points (3g-11a)… Martin Erat has six points (1g-5a) in the last six games, and 13 points (2g-11a) in Nashville’s last 14 outings. The team’s point leader has amassed 39 points (16g-23a) in 44 games played since the start of December after posting nine points (4g-5a) in his first 23 games of 2009-10… Defensemen Ryan Suter has eight points (1g-7a) in 13 games since returning from the Olympics. He had eight points in the 26 games prior to the Games from Dec. 19-Feb. 14… Jason Arnott – who’s missed the past two games with an upper-body injury – has five points (1g-4a) in his last five games, and 10 points (5g-5a) in his last eight games in Bridgestone Arena. Fifteen of Arnott’s 18 goals have come on home ice, including the last nine… Colin Wilson has eight points (4g-4a) in his last 10 outings. Since being recalled for the first time in his career on Feb. 9, the seventh overall pick in the 2008 Entry Draft has 11 points (6g-5a) in 17 games. His goal total in that span is tied for first among first-year players, while his point total ranks second to Atlanta’s Niclas Bergfors.