TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. LOS ANGELES
The Los Angeles Kings visit Bridgestone Arena tonight for the first time this season, the second of four games between the Predators and Kings this season. In their first meeting of the season on Nov. 6 at the Staples Center, the Kings used four goals in the first half of the game to cruise to a 4-1 win, their first home win over Nashville in six tries going back to the 2007-08 campaign. Shane O’Brien scored Nashville’s lone goal, his first as a Predator, with Sergei Kostitsyn picking up his first assist in a Predators sweater on the third-frame marker. Last season, the clubs split a pair of games in the Music City, with L.A. winning the most recent matchup by a 2-0 decision on March 30, 2010. The Predators’ home win came in the first of three games in a three-week span (March 4-30) when they doubled up Los Angeles by a 4-2 score behind Marcel Goc’s game-winning goal at 2:30 of the third period and a pair of assists from Martin Erat. Nashville posted a 1-8-(3)-0 home record against Los Angeles in its first six seasons as a franchise, but have since turned the tables, going 7-3-0 on home ice since the start of the 2005-06 campaign.
With a team-leading five assists in four games in last season’s series with the Kings, Erat has 14 points (2g-12a) in his last 11 games vs. Los Angeles, including a career-high four assists in a 4-3 overtime win on March 28, 2009. Overall, the Trebic, Czech Republic native has 23 points (4g-19a) in 29 career games against the Kings. It is his highest assist total against a non-divisional team and tied for his second highest total against one team overall… J-P Dumont has 17 points (8g-9a) in 16 games against L.A. as a Predator, and 22 points (11g-11a) in 25 career games against the Kings… Since joining the Predators, Steve Sullivan has 12 points (4g-8a) in 13 games against Los Angeles… Joel Ward has six points (3g-3a) in nine games vs. the Kings in his career.
A season ago, Nashville claimed the first three games of the four-game set, the last of which came on March 14, 2010 when it rallied from a 2-1 deficit late in the third to claim a 3-2 decision. Patric Hornqvist capped the scoring at 16:29 of the final frame, the second-latest regulation game winner the team scored all season.
All-time series highlights: Dec. 23, 2006: Nashville recorded a 7-0 victory over Los Angeles at Bridgestone Arena. J-P Dumont notched four points (2g-2a), while Jason Arnott and David Legwand scored two goals apiece. Legwand (goal) and Paul Kariya (no goal) were both awarded penalty shots - the first time Nashville had been awarded more than one penalty shot in a single game - and Chris Mason stopped 34 shots in the shutout... Jan. 13, 2004: Chris Mason made 33 saves in his first NHL shutout as Nashville and Los Angeles played to the first scoreless tie at Bridgestone Arena. Roman Cechmanek made 29 saves for L.A.
PREDS MATCH FRANCHISE MARK WITH 10 GAME POINT STREAK
Nashville’s 3-1 road win last night at New Jersey matched the club record with points in 10 consecutive game, the fourth time in franchise history the team has earned a point in 10 consecutive games. The Predators have gone 8-0-2 during the string, including wins in the last five outings, the team's longest winning streak of the season (three wins shy of the franchise mark set Oct. 5-25, 2005). The 2010-11 edition of the Predators’ 17-8-6 record (40 points) through 31 games is the team’s best start since 2006-07 when they went 20-8-3 (43 points) en route to posting franchise records in points (110) and wins (51).
The Nashville Predators are in the middle of their sixth back-to-back set this season ... With last night's win at New Jersey, the Predators are 7-3-1 in back-to-back situations, including a 3-1-1 record in the second game (heading into tonight's game) ... Nashville has seven more back-to-back sets on the schedule this season, including its next two games after tonight, a set set at Chicago (Dec. 22) and home vs. Ottawa (Dec. 23).
DEFENSE GETS IT DONE
The Nashville Predators have allowed two goals or fewer in 12 of the last 15 games dating back to Nov. 18 vs. Montreal. Nashville has given up just 21 non-shootout goals in that span while picking up points (10-2-3 record) in all but two of those games. The Predators now have the fourth-best goals against average in the League (2.29), allowing 22 goals in the each of the first two periods and 23 goals in the third period.
Much of the success is due to Nashville’s stingy penalty kill. The unit has been perfect in 12 of the last 15 games, extinguishing 48-of-51 chances against (94.1 percent) in that span. The streak has helped the PK move from 23rd in the PK rankings on Nov. 11 (78.7 percent) to fifth-best in the NHL (85.1 percent). At home, the Preds have allowed just six power-play goals this season, an 88.2 percent success rate, second best in the league on home ice.
LINDBACK KEEPS WINNING
Rookie goaltender Anders Lindback picked up his fifth consecutive win and improved to 6-0-1 with a 1.43 goals-against average, a .949 save percentage and a pair of shutouts since Pekka Rinne went down with an injury. Lindback posted an impressive 128:47 shutout streak from Decemb er 10-15. The Gavle, Sweden native is tied for the NHL lead in both wins and shutouts during the month of December, while his goals-against average and save percent rank third among netminders making more than one start. In his first North American season Lindback has posted an 9-1-2 record to this point with a .931 save percentage – third-best in the League – and a 2.08 goals-against average – good for fifth in the NHL.
KOSTITSYN STAYS HOT Sergei Kostitsyn picked up an assist on Nashville's second power-play goal last night at New Jersey, extending his point streak to a career-high eight games dating back to Dec. 1 at Columbus. He’s amassed three goals and seven assists in that span to go along with a +8 rating – tied for first in the League this month. Prior to the streak, he had three points (2g-1a) and a -7 rating in 19 2010-11 games. It is tied for the fourth longest point streak in team history and is the longest point streak by a Predator since Ryan Suter also reached the scoresheet in eight straight from March 3-18, 2009 (2g-8a).
The Predators are 15-3-1 when scoring three-or-more goals and 17-2-5 when allowing fewer than three goals… Nashville has outscored the opposition 13-2 in the first period over the last 10 games. It has also outscored its foes 9-2 in the second period over the last seven contests… During Nashville’s 8-0-2 run, the Predators have seen eight different game-winning goal scorers… Going back to last season, Martin Erat has 28 points in his last 22 games during the month of December. Erat has scored three goals and 10 points in eight games this December, after posting 10 goals and 18 points in 14 games during December 2009.