TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. MONTREAL
Nashville and Montreal hook up for their only meeting of the 2010-11 season tonight at the Bell Center. It is only the Predators’ seventh all-time trip to the venue and third in the last seven years. Though they’ve only played 12 times – with Nashville posting a 4-5-(1)-2 record – Preds-Habs contests have typically produced some thrilling games and noteworthy performances. In their only clash of the 2009-10 campaign on Nov. 14 at Bridgestone Arena, the Predators put a franchise-record 55 shots on goal and outshot the Canadiens by a franchise-record 35 shots in a 2-0 victory. Pekka Rinne whitewashed Montreal with a 20-save effort, and Steve Sullivan scored both of the game’s goals.
All three Nashville-Montreal games between Dec. 18, 2003 and Dec. 1, 2007 needed overtime or a shootout to determine a winner, with Nashville winning the third game after overcoming two three-goal deficits with four third-period tallies to claim a 5-4 shootout win. It marked Nashville’s first win in La Belle Province – the Canadiens were the final team that had kept Nashville winless in their home barn. Also of note was the third-ever meeting between the clubs, which happened 11 years ago yesterday. On Nov. 18, 1999, Kimmo Timonen took and converted the first penalty shot in franchise history against netminder Jeff Hackett in a 6-1 Predators victory in the Music City. Rob Valicevic potted two goals to take First Star honors on the night, while current Predator Francis Bouillon set up Montreal’s lone goal of the game, a power-play goal by Karl Dykhuis.
Tonight marks Bouillon’s first trip to Montreal since leaving the club following the 2008-09 season. He spent nearly his entire professional career with the organization prior to last season, playing played 481 of his first 485 NHL games with the Habs. The New York, N.Y., native who grew up in Montreal amassed 102 points (21g-81a) and 371 penalty minutes from 1999-2009, and also pitched in six points (2g-4a) in 25 playoff contests with the Habs… This is also Sergei Kostitsyn’s first game against the team that selected him 200th overall in the 2005 Entry Draft. In three seasons, the Novopolotsk, Belarus native put up 68 points (24g-44a) in 155 NHL contests, and 49 points (15g-34a) in 55 AHL games with Montreal’s affiliate in Hamilton.
In addition to Bouillon, the Predators have two other players that call Montreal home – J-P Dumont and Matthew Lombardi. Against his hometown team, Dumont has 24 points (9g-15a) in 31 career games, including five (2g-3a) in four contests as a Predator.
Nashville is 22-13-2 in games played in Canada since the start of the 2005-06 season… The Predators are in the midst of a one-month span between Oct. 23 and Nov. 23 that sees them play 11 road games and two home games. After a five-game road trip from Oct. 30-Nov. 11, they returned to Bridgestone Arena for one game (Nov. 13 vs. Chicago) and are now out on a four-game trip… Nashville is 1-1-2 against the Eastern Conference… The Predators have a 3-2-0 record when trailing after one period, second only to Washington (8-3-0). They are tied for the League’s best record when trailing after two periods (2-4-0)… Nashville’s four wins when giving up the first goal of the game is the fourth-highest total in the NHL… The Preds are 4-1-1 when scoring a power-play goal… With his goal Tuesday at Toronto, Jordin Tootoo has seven points (2g-5a) in 15 games, the fastest offensive start to his career… Cal O’Reilly – the team leader in points and assists (3g-9a-12pts) – has racked up nine of those points (3g-6a) in nine road games. That puts him tied for 13th in the NHL in road points… Cody Franson is tied fifth among NHL blueliners in goals (4), and tied for eighth at the position in shooting percentage (12.9 percent). His average ice time of 15:54 is the lowest among defenders with multiple goals and a shooting percentage in double digits. He also leads the team in plus/minus rating (+6)… Shea Weber ranks second among League d-men in shots on goal (54), and is tied for fifth at the position in hits (50). He’s also 12th in the NHL in average ice time (24:55)… Francis Bouillon sits atop the hits by a defenseman list with 56.
PREDATORS IN ELITE CLASS WITH FIVE STRAIGHT 40-WIN/23 HOME-WIN SEASONS
The Predators are one of just five teams who have reached the 40-win mark in five consecutive seasons (San Jose, New Jersey, Calgary and Detroit are the others), and rank fifth in the League in wins since the start of the 2005-06 campaign (235). Going back one more season to 2003-04, Nashville is one of just four Western Conference teams, and one of eight teams overall, to make the playoffs at least five times. The club is led by Barry Trotz, who has coached all 918 games in franchise history, good for fifth on the NHL’s games coached with a single team list. His next win will be his 419th, tying Scotty Bowman’s tenure with Montreal for sixth on the League’s wins with one team list. He is also 13 victories away from fifth-place Dick Irvin, who amassed 431 victories with the Habs.