TODAY’S STORYLINES VS. LOS ANGELES
Nashville will be looking to keep its recent success against the Los Angeles Kings going tonight at Bridgestone Arena as the teams play for the third and final time during the month of March tonight. The Predators have experience their greatest success ever against the Kings of late, winning seven straight matchups going back to the start of the 2008-09 season, and nine of 10 since Dec. 22, 2007. On home ice, the Predators are undefeated in L.A.’s last three trips to the Music City, and are 7-2-0 here since the start of the 2005-06 campaign. The last meeting of the teams came two weeks ago (March 14) in Tinseltown, in a tilt that saw Patric Hornqvist score the game winner at 16:29 of the third period, the latest in regulation the game winner has come for the team this season. Ten days prior, to that, in the Kings first visit to Nashville, the Predators scored three straight after giving up the game’s first goal, and cruised to a 4-2 win. The first meeting of the season ended 3-1 in favor of Nashville thanks to Dan Ellis’ 27-save performance, and Francis Bouillon’s first goal as a Predator. Cody Franson notched his first career game-winning goal as part of a two-point effort (1g-1a) in that Nov. 7 matchup.
The Predators have outshot the Kings 88-70 through two games thanks in-large part to big second periods – they’ve amassed a 33-13 shot advantage, and have outscored L.A. 2-0 in the process. In the final 40 minutes of regulation, the Preds have a 8-3 goal advantage through three games. 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-83 (27.7 percent) over the last 19 games.
Martin Erat has assisted on half of Nashville’s 10 goals against Los Angeles this season, posting a pair in each of the first two games, and another on Colin Wilson’s game-tying goal two weeks ago. 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 12 points (1g-11a) in his last seven games against L.A… The Kings are one of three teams – along with Phoenix (54) and San Jose (50) – that Jason Arnott has 50 points against. He’s amassed
The Nashville Predators are 2-2-1 all-time in games played on March 30, with four of the five games coming against divisional foes. The Preds picked up a 3-2 win at Washington in 1999, the team's lone out-of-division game on Mar. 30. Nashville dropped a 4-2 decision to St. Louis in 2002, but rebounded with a 5-2 win over Chicago in '04. The Preds lost 4-2 to the Red Wings in '06 and earned an overtime point with a 1-0 OTL at Detroit in '08.
20 goals and 51 points in 54 career games against them, including 14 points (8g-6a) in 11 games against L.A. as a Predator… Steve Sullivan has 12 points (4g-8a) in 11 games against L.A. as a Predator, including a goal in the last meeting. For his career, he has 32 points (10g-22a) in 36 games against the Kings… J.P. Dumont has 22 points (11g-11a) in 23 career games against the Kings, including 17 points (8g-9a) in 14 games as a Predator… Joel Ward has six points (3g-3a) in seven career games against the Kings… Shea Weber has nine points (5g-4a) in 12 games vs. Los Angeles, including four points (3g-1a) in his last six games… Pekka Rinne is a perfect 4-0-0 against L.A. for his career, while Dan Ellis is 5-1-0.
Defenseman Denis Grebeshkov, acquired by Nashville from Edmonton on March 1 in exchange for a second-round pick, was drafted 18th overall by the Kings in the 2002 Entry Draft. He played his first 12 NHL games with L.A. in 2003-04 and 2005-06, notching three assists. On March 8, 2006, the Russian Olympian was dealt to the New York Islanders (along with Jeff Tambellini) for Mark Parrish and Brent Sopel… 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.
All-time series highlights: Three times in franchise history the club has posted a margin of victory greater than six, and twice it has occurred against Los Angeles. On Dec. 23, 2006, Dumont notched four points (2g-2a), while Jason Arnott and David Legwand both scored two goals apiece in a 7-0 victory at the Bridgestone Arena. On Jan. 8, at the Staples Center, Darcy Hordichuk, Arnott and Legwand set the franchise record for fastest three goals by the club (1:15) in a 7-0 victory.
Career highs/highlights attained against the Kings
Jason Arnott – Seventh career hat trick on Dec. 22, 2007.
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).
HORNQVIST HITS 30-GOAL CLUB
Second-year forward Patric Hornqvist scored his 30th goal of the season in last night’s 3-2 overtime victory at Florida. It is just the fourth 30-goal season in club history (Jason Arnott: 33 in 2008-09, Paul Kariya and Steve Sullivan: 31 each in 2005-06). The Swedish Olympian’s 30 goals this season are the most by a Nashville draft pick in a Predators sweater, and a 28-goal increase from his rookie season in 2008-09, making him just the second 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 tied for second in the League in game-winning goals (8), and has the fewest NHL games (102) and the lowest average ice time (15:38) among the NHL’s top 20 goal scorers. Additionally, his six-shot performance on Thursday raised his season total to a franchise-record 253 passing Shea Weber’s 251 shots from a season ago.
EXTRA TIME AGAIN
Overtime was necessary to determine a winner for the third straight game, and for the fifth time in the last eight outings, last night at Florida. The Predators have recorded a .666 winning percentage (12-6) in overtime/shootout games, the fifth-best mark in the League. Additionally, the 2009-10 squad’s 12 extra-time wins ties a franchise record, originally recorded last season. Seven of the 12 wins have come via the shootout, where Nashville netminders Dan Ellis and Pekka Rinne have led the charge. Rinne’s nine stops on 11 attempts vs. Detroit on Saturday improved his shootout save percentage to .738, second-best among goalies who have faced at least 31 shooters. Rinne is even better on home ice, posting a .763 save percentage while seeing an NHL-high 38 attempts. TEAM QUICK HITS
Tonight concludes the Predators last set of 15 back-to-backs in 2009-10. So far, they’ve posted a 7-7-1 record on the front end, and a 9-5-0 record on the back end… The Predators are one of just three teams (with San Jose and New Jersey) to record 40 wins in each of the last five seasons… Tonight is the 17th and final game for Nashville during March – that is tied with Atlanta for the most this month… Nashville’s 22 road wins are tied for the League lead… Nashville has allowed just 15 regulation/overtime goals in the last 10 games, posting a team goals-against average of 1.50 over that span. Nashville has allowed just one second-period goal in the last 10 games, outscoring the opposition 6-1 in that span. It has also amassed a 9-4 advantage in the opening frame in the last nine contests… The Predators are 39-18-4 in games decided by two goals or less – the most wins in the NHL in that situation… The Predators are 23-14-2 when outshooting the opposition, fifth-best in the NHL… The Predators are averaging a League-low 8.7 penalty minutes per game…Nashville is tied for the NHL lead (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 have the League’s second-best record when scoring first (27-5-1)… Nashville’s 94 points and 44 wins are the third-highest totals in franchise history. PLAYER QUICK HITS Patric Hornqvist has 10 points (7g-3a) in the last 11 games. His goal last night at Florida gave him the fourth 30-goal season in club history (Jason Arnott: 33 in 2008-09, Paul Kariya and Steve Sullivan: 31 each in 2005-06), and his 30 goals this season are the most by a Nashville draft pick in a Predators sweater… Steve Sullivan, who posted two assists last night, has nine points (3g-6a) in the last nine games… Francis Bouillon scored his first career overtime goal in last night’s win… David Legwand scored his first goal in 35 games last night… Shea Weber notched an assist on Legwand’s goal, giving him his third 40-point season… J.P. Dumont is just one helper shy of the 300-assist milestone for his career. He hit the 200-goal mark on March 4, and the 500-point plateau on March 11.