TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. CAROLINA
The Predators visit the Research Triangle for the eighth time in franchise history tonight when they take on the Carolina Hurricanes, the first of two contests the teams play against one another in 2010-11. Nashville has taken the last three meetings of the clubs and has claimed points in five straight dating back to Dec. 3, 2003. In their lone matchup last season on Jan. 7, 2010, the Preds used a two-goal, three-point effort from Patric Hornqvist, and one-goal, one-assist outings from Steve Sullivan and J-P Dumont to double-up the ‘Canes, 4-2, at Bridgestone Arena. In the Predators last trip to Raleigh on Nov. 23, 2008, it was Shea Weber who stole the show – he scored two goals and added an assist in a 5-2 win at the RBC Center.
Nashville is 8-3-(1)-1 all-time against Carolina, and has earned points in eight of nine games since Oct. 14, 2000. At the RBC Center, it has points in five straight (3-0-(1)-1) since Nov. 26, 2000. Special teams has been crucial to the Predators success against the Hurricanes both all-time and recently. In 13 games all-time vs. Carolina, the Preds have given up just four power-play goals, killing off 48-of-52 man disadvantages. Since the start of the 2002-03 campaign, the PK has successfully extinguished 32-of-33 chances against, a 97 percent success rate. Likewise, the power play has clicked since the lone meeting of the 2002-03 season, going 6-for-26 (23 percent).
All-time series highlight: Two massive franchise milestones were achieved in the second regular-season game in the Nashville Predators’ inaugural season on Oct. 13, 1998 vs. Carolina: the team’s first goal and the franchise’s first win. Former Predator (and current member of the Minnesota Wild) Andrew Brunette was credited with the first tally in club history at 5:12 of the first period after a lengthy video review. Denny Lambert and J.J. Daigneault also lit the lamp for Nashville in the 3-2 victory over the Canes. All five of the game’s goals were scored in the first period, including a tally from Carolina’s Martin Gelinas (now Director of Player Development for Nashville). Mike Dunham earned the win in net with 34 saves.
Dumont has posted points in all three games he’s played against Carolina as a Nashville Predator (2g-2a), including his first career shorthanded goal in last season’s game and the only tally in a 1-0 Predators win in 2007-08. For his career, he has 20 points (13g-7a) in 23 games against Carolina… Martin Erat posted a pair of assists the last time Nashville visited Carolina, and has four points in six career games against the Hurricanes… Sullivan has amassed 14 points (4g-10a) in 17 career games vs. Carolina, while Weber has five points (2g-3a) in four games against the ‘Canes.
RINNE RECORDS 16th CAREER SHUTOUT Pekka Rinne’s 30-save performance in a 3-0 Predators victory on Thursday night at Montreal was his second shutout of 2010-11 – he also stopped 30 shots in a 1-0 win at Dallas on Oct. 23 – and 16th of his career. All of Rinne’s whitewashes have come since Dec. 1, 2008, putting him first in the League since that date (Tomas Vokoun and Martin Brodeur are tied for second with 14 apiece). The 3-0 score marked just the third time the Kempele, Finland native has received more than two goals in offensive support in a shutout victory.
SMALL BUT MIGHTY Francis Bouillon – listed by the NHL as the shortest defenseman in the League at 5-foot-8 – had a happy homecoming to Montreal on Thursday, recording his sixth career multi-assist performance, and ninth career multi-point game. The last time he did both was as a member of the Canadiens on Feb. 26, 2008 at Atlanta. Bouillon now has four helpers in his last four contests, and six assists through 17 games – just two shy of his 81-game total from a season ago. It is the fastest offensive start of the 11-season veteran’s career, trumping the seven points (1g-7a) through 26 games he posted in 2005-06 when he set career highs in helpers (19) and points (22). Additionally, Bouillon dished out a game-high six hits in Thursday’s victory, moving his NHL defensemen-leading total to 62.
GOC POSTS FIRST CAREER MULTI-GOAL GAME Marcel Goc struck twice in Thursday’s victory, tallying his second game-winning goal as a Predator at 1:19 of the second period, and scoring again at 11:17 of the third. After 35 career goals scored one game at a time over his previous 348 NHL games, it was the Calw, Germany native’s first career multi-goal game, extending his current point streak to three games (3g-1a), just one shy of his career high. Goc missed six games due to injury from Oct. 19-30, but has points in eight of the 11 games he’s played, amassing five goals, tied for first on the team, and nine points, tied for third. Last season, when Goc posted career highs in goals, assists and points (12g-18a-30pts, 73gp), he didn’t post point No. 9 until Dec. 17, 2009 at Edmonton, his 33rd game of the campaign. The 6-1, 203-pound center’s goal total has come on just 21 shots, giving him the fifth-highest shooting percentage in the League (23.8 percent).
TROTZ TIES NHL SCOTTY BOWMAN
In his 919th game behind the Predators bench on Thursday night at Montreal, Head Coach Barry Trotz registered his 419th victory, moving him into a tie with Scotty Bowman’s tenure with the Canadiens (1971-79) for seventh on the all-time wins with a single franchise list. The Dauphin, Man., native is 12 victories shy of Dick Irvin’s Montreal tenure (1940-56) for sixth all-time. The top five are Al Arbour (740, N.Y. Islanders), Billy Reay (516, Chicago), Toe Blake (500, Montreal) and Lindy Ruff (490, Buffalo). Trotz is also fifth on the all-time games coached with a single franchise list, having passed Blake on Nov. 7.
The Predators have outscored the opposition 7-4 during the third period of the last six games. They had been outscored 12-6 in first 11 games of 2010-11… Nashville and Carolina are tied for the fourth-fewest penalty minutes per game in the League (11.1)… 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 2-1-2 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… Cody Franson is tied sixth among NHL blueliners in goals (4). His average ice time of 15:47 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 third among League d-men in shots on goal (54), and is seventh at the position in hits (53).