TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. ST. LOUIS
It’s only game No. 14 of the 2010-11 season, but the Predators and Blues are already facing off for the third time – game four will come in just two weeks when St. Louis makes its final regular-season trip to Bridgestone Arena. This, however, marks Nashville’s first trip of the season to Scottrade Center, a venue it has won four straight contests in dating back to Feb. 21, 2009. Last season, the Predators scored one-goal victories over the Bluenotes in the Gateway City on Dec. 29 (4-3) and March 21 (3-2) and a 3-1 decision in their first trip to St. Louis on Nov. 12. Two of the Predators three latest regulation game-winning goals in 2009-10 were accounted for in those three games – Dustin Boyd broke a 2-2 tie with just 2:46 left in the third period in the March 21 game, and Jordin Tootoo notched an unassisted game winner at the 16:17 mark of the Nov. 12 contest. In the Dec. 29 meeting, the Preds held onto a 4-1 victory after a late St. Louis surge. Nashville’s 34 trips to St. Louis can be split distinctively into two segments – it went 3-10-(1)-2 at the Blues barn in its first six seasons, but is 13-5-0 there since.
The teams have split the two games they’ve played thus far in 2010-11. In Nashville’s third game of the season, on the tail-end of its first back-to-back set on Oct. 14, it jumped out to a quick lead on a Marcel Goc goal just 56 seconds into regulation, and led 3-1 after 14 minutes of play on two goals by Steve Sullivan. Patric Hornqvist provided the game winner on the power play at 16:21 of the second, while Cal O’Reilly tied a career high with a three-assist performance. Rookie netminder Anders Lindback stopped 32-of-35 shots in his first career home start. The Preds became the final team in the NHL to lose a regulation contest in St. Louis’ second trip to the Music City on Oct. 28 by a score of 3-0. Nashville holds a 28-7-3 record in the series since the start of the 2005-06 season.
With a multi-point outing in game No. 1 of the season series, Hornqvist now has eight points (4g-4a) in his last seven games against St. Louis. He made his NHL debut against the Blues on Oct. 10, 2008, and notched a career-high three assists in a 3-2 victory at Scottrade Center on April 1, 2010… Sullivan’s two goals on Oct. 14 were the 20th and 21st of his career against the Bluenotes, his highest goal total against any of the NHL’s 30 teams. Sullivan has 49 points (21g28a) in 58 career games vs. St. Louis, also his highest point total against any team… Jordin Tootoo has seen more offensive success against the Blues than any other NHL team. The Rankin Inlet, Nunavut native has 13 points (6g-7a) in 29 career games against St. Louis – he has no more than three goals against any other club. With 19 penalty minutes in the first two matchups of 2010-11 with St. Louis, he now has 87 career penalty minutes against the Blues – second-most for a single player against a single team in franchise history only to the 88 he has amassed vs. Columbus… Ryan Suter notched an assist in the Oct. 14 contest, but missed the last game vs. St. Louis, giving him 15 career assists and 16 career points against the Blues. The assist total is his highest against a single team, while the point total is tied for first with his total vs. Chicago (2g-14a).
Cal O’Reilly posted a goal and an assist on Sunday night at Anaheim, leaving him with a team-high nine assists and 11 points through 13 games. He is not only riding a career-high four-game assist streak that is the longest by a Predator since March 12-18, 2010 (Jason Arnott, four-game streak), but has also tied a 2010-11 team high with a four-game point streak (1g-4a). A season ago, O’Reilly posted identical offensive totals (2g-9a-11pts) in 31 games, and he entered this season with 16 points (5g-11a) in 42 career games. The Varna, Ont., native is averaging 17:20 of ice time per game, a four-minute spike from his career average entering the season, and fourth among Nashville forwards.
QUICK HITS Francis Bouillon dished out a game-high five hits on Sunday at Anaheim, leaving him third among NHL defensemen in hits (44)… Shea Weber is tied for fifth among League blueliners in hits (41), tied for eighth at the position in shots (36) and is 10th in the NHL in average ice time (25:21)… Tonight is the last leg of a five-game road trip that has also seen Nashville visit Detroit, Phoenix, Los Angeles and Anaheim. After one game back in the Music City against the Cup Champion Blackhawks on Saturday, the Predators hit the road for four more contests. Nine of Nashville’s 10 games between Oct. 30-Nov. 22 are on the road, and it only plays at Bridgestone Arena twice between Oct. 23 and Nov. 23.