TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. DETROIT
Nashville and Detroit clash this afternoon at Joe Louis Arena for the sixth and final time in 2009-10, the Predators 35th all-time visit to the Motor City. Since winning four straight over Detroit from Feb. 28, 2009 to Nov. 23, 2009 (the first game between the clubs this season) by a combined score of 19-7, the Predators have dropped four straight to the Wings, two of which have gone to overtime/a shootout. The last meeting came last Saturday in Nashville, and ended after a franchise-record 11-round shootout. Both Pekka Rinne (38 saves) and Jimmy Howard (33 saves) recorded shutouts in the 1-0 Detroit win, the fifth time in franchise history that has occurred. In its last two trips to Detroit, the Predators have fallen by scores of 5-2 (March 5) and 4-2 (Jan. 29). In game No. 2 of the series, Nashville rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the second-half of regulation on goals by Ryan Jones and Detroit native David Legwand to force overtime, but Todd Bertuzzi ended the game just 24 seconds into the extra session, the quickest overtime goal against in franchise history. Nashville’s lone 2009-10 win over the Red Wings came in its first game against them on Nov. 23 by a 3-1 score, behind a pair of goals by Martin Erat and a 30-save effort by Rinne. Nashville’s last win(s) in the series came in the final two clashes of 2008-09 by 4-3 scores, the most recent of which was a shootout win on April 9, 2009 that saw the Predators rally from a two-goal deficit in the final seven minutes of regulation, then win the game in a breakaway competition. Jason Arnott pitched in a goal and an assist, in addition to posting his first career shootout-deciding marker, in the win, while linemate J.P. Dumont sent the game to overtime with a goal at 19:00 of the third.
Nashville is 8-19-7 all-time at the Joe, but has posted a 6-8-3 mark there since 2005-06 after going 2-11-4 in the first six seasons of the franchise’s existence. Overall, Nashville is 7-7-2 vs. Detroit since the start of 2007-08 including a 1-2-2 mark in 2009-10. Through five games, the Predators have outshot the Red Wings 163-159. In the first 10 seasons of Predators hockey, they never outshot Detroit in a season – Detroit had a 2,218-1,650 shot advantage (plus-568) from 1998-99 to 2008-09, which averages out to 35.2-26.2 over 63 games.
The Preds are 3-4-1 all-time on games played on April 3. Nashville posted a 3-2 win in 1999 against Los Angeles, before falling 3-1 in Anaheim in 2000. The Preds won 3-1 in Chicago in 2002, but then lost their next three Apr. 3 appearances (4-1 to St. Louis in '04, 3-1 to Columbus in '06, and 3-2 in a shootout to Chicago in '07). The Preds beat St. Louis 3-2 on Apr. 3, 2008, but last season suffered a 3-1 defeat at Chicago on Apr. 3.
A theme in the Nashville-Detroit season series to this point has been Nashville ability to put shots on the Red Wing goal like never before. Despite being outshot last Saturday by a 33-38 margin, the Preds have outshot the Wings 130-121 through four games which includes an 99-75 advantage over the final 40 minutes of regulation. On the Jan. 29 game between the clubs, Nashville outshot the Wings 48-20, setting a franchise record for shots in a road game while tying the third-largest shot advantage in club history (plus-19) despite falling 4-2.
J.P. Dumont has points in three-of-five games against Detroit this season (1g-2a), and 18 points (4g-14a) in 19 games against Detroit since the start of the 2007-08 campaign… Both Dan Hamhuis and Steve Sullivan have registered assists in three of the previous five meetings of these teams this season to tie Dumont for the lead in points. Sullivan has 11 points (3g-8a) in 11 games against Detroit since returning from a nearly two-year absence due to injury, and 20 points (6g-14a) in 22 games against Detroit as a Predator… David Legwand has played 50 career games against his hometown team, amassing 32 (12g-20a) points against the Wings… Since notching his eighth career hat trick against Detroit on Feb. 28, 2009, Jason Arnott has six points (5g-1a) in six games against Detroit … Joel Ward has five goals in 12 career games against Detroit – his highest total against any team… Rinne is 4-1-2 in seven career starts against Detroit, posting a 1.96 goals-against average and .942 save percentage… Predators Associate Coach Brent Peterson was Detroit’s second pick, 12th overall (first round), in the 1978 Entry Draft. He played 91 games with the Wings from 1978-82, amassing 28 points (8g-20a).
TROTZ POISED TO REACH GAMES COACHED, WINS MILESTONES
Tonight, Predators head coach Barry Trotz is expected to spend his 900th game behind the team’s bench, making him just the sixth coach in NHL history to reach the mark with a single team. Al Arbour (1,499 with N.Y. Islanders) ranks first on the games coached with a single team list, while Billy Reay (1,012 with Chicago), Lindy Ruff (979 with Buffalo), Jack Adams (964 with Detroit) and Toe Blake (914 with Montreal) round out the top five. Additionally, Trotz’s next win will be career victory No. 410 – all with the Predators – tying him with Scotty Bowman’s win total with Detroit for sixth on the wins with a single team list. Arbour’s 739 wins with the Islanders tops that list, followed by Ruff (481), Glen Sather (464 with Edmonton), Dick Irvin (431 with Montreal) and Bowman’s 419 wins with Montreal.
RINNE GETS WIN NO. 30
In his 55th appearance of the season on Thursday vs. St. Louis, second-year netminder Pekka Rinne improved to 30-15-5 with a 31-save effort, becoming just the second goalie in franchise history to win 30 games for the Predators. Tomas Vokoun won 36 in 2005-06 and 34 in 2003-04. The Kempele, Finland native has won 59 games over the past two seasons, that is 11th-most, and just one shy of the totals put up by L.A.’s Jonathan Quick (60) and New Jersey’s Martin Brodeur (60). His win total is also good for third on the franchise’s all-time list behind only Vokoun (161) and Mike Dunham (81).
Since the Olympic break, Rinne has gone 10-3-1 (second-most wins in that span), with a 1.82 goals-against average and a .935 save percentage (both marks second-best among goalies with at least five starts). He also has a League-high four shutouts in that span, all of which have come in his last 11 starts, moving him into a tie for second in the NHL with seven whitewashes, and second in club history with 14 blankings for his career.
SHARING THE WEALTH Marcel Goc assisted on Steve Sullivan’s game-winning goal on Thursday vs. the Blues, making him the 10th Predator this season to reach the 30-point mark. Only Washington (11) has more 30-point players, while both Philadelphia and Pittsburgh also have 10. Nashville also has 10 players who have scored at least 10 goals. TEAM QUICK HITS
Today is Nashville’s last of five matinee games in 2009-10 – it is 3-1-0 thus far in afternoon contests, and 13-4-2 during the daytime since the start of the 2006-07 season… The Predators are one of just four teams (with Detroit, San Jose and New Jersey) to record 40 wins in each of the last five seasons, and one of just four teams (with Washington, San Jose and Los Angeles) that have at least 22 home and road wins this season. Their 22 road wins are tied for the League lead, and just one shy of the franchise record (23 in 2006-07)… The Predators rank second in even-strength road goals (87) and are tied for fourth in overall road goals (109)… Nashville has allowed just 20 regulation/overtime goals in the last 12 games, posting a team goals-against average of 1.63 over that span. Nashville has allowed just two second-period goals in the last 12 games, outscoring the opposition 8-2 in that span... The Predators are 40-19-6 in games decided by two goals or less – the most wins in the NHL in that situation. Their 26 one-goal game wins are second-best… Nashville has gone 12-6 in overtime/shootouts this season. Its .667 winning percentage in games that go beyond 60 minutes is tied for second-best in the League… Nashville is tied for the NHL lead (23-1-0) when leading after one period, and has the League’s second-best record when scoring first (27-5-1)… The Predators are averaging the fewest penalty minutes per game (8.8), and have been shorthanded the third-fewest times in the League (250, 3.16 per game). PLAYER QUICK HITS
With an assist on Thursday, Cody Franson became just the second rookie defenseman in franchise history to reach the 20-point mark (6g-14a) – Dan Hamhuis notched 26 points (7g-19a) in 2003-04. Fourteen (4g-10a) of Franson’s 20 points have come on the road, and he’s tied for sixth among NHL blueliners in road plus/minus rating (+13)… Marcel Goc has five assists in his last five games. In his first season with the Predators he’s set career highs in points (30), goals (12) and assists (18). Goc has amassed 20 (8g-12a) in 39 road games vs. 10 points (4g-6a) in 37 home games. He is a +12 on the road as well, good for a tie for ninth among NHL forwards (with J.P. Dumont)… Steve Sullivan reached the 50-point mark for the seventh time in his career on Thursday. He has 10 points (4g-6a) in the last 11 games, and is a +11 in that span… Patric Hornqvist’s career-high three assists last game gives him 13 points (7g-4a) in the last 13 games. Now in the team-lead in points (51), Hornqvist is just the fourth player in franchise history, and the first Predators draft pick, to reach the 30-goal mark, and his next tally will tie him with Sullivan and Paul Kariya’s total from the 2005-06 campaign (31) for second-most in a season. Hornqvist has experienced 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. The Swedish Olympian is also tied for second in the League in game-winning goals (8), and has the fewest NHL games (104) and the lowest average ice time (15:47) among the NHL’s Top-20 goal scorers. Hornqvist has put five-or-more shots on goal in seven of the last nine games, bringing his franchise-record total to 272, eighth-highest in the NHL…Jordin Tootoo has seven points (2g-5a) in 13 divisional games this season, as opposed to nine points (4g-5a) in 35 out-of-division contests.