TV: Fox Sports Tennessee (DirecTV 644 SD, 644-1 HD; Dish 447 SD, 9519 HD;
Comcast Nashville 295; Comcast Chattanooga/Cleveland/Knoxville 401; Comcast Memphis Memphis 830) Radio: Preds Radio Network Flagship - 102.9-FM WBUZ Tom Callahan's Game Day Update
TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. OTTAWA
The Predators play host to the Ottawa Senators for the first time since Feb. 16, 2009 and just the second time in the last four seasons tonight at Bridgestone Arena, the only game between the two clubs in 2010-11. The Preds and Sens last met in a wild affair on Oct. 22, 2009 at Scotiabank Place, with Nashville snapping a six-game losing streak with a 6-5 overtime win. That night, the Predators jumped out to a 3-0 lead just 11 minutes into the game only to see Ottawa tie the game with three in the first 8:10 of the third period. After exchanging goals to make it 4-4, the Predators scored what appeared to be the game winner with just one minute left in regulation, only to see Ottawa send the game to extra time with a shorthanded, extra-attacker goal with two seconds left on the clock. Shea Weber would notch his second goal of the game at 2:11 of sudden death to give Nashville the victory, the team’s second power-play goal of the evening. With Weber scoring two goals (along with one assist) for the sixth (and most recent) time in his career, Ryan Suter notching his first career two-goal game and second ever three-point outing (2g-1a), and Cody Franson scoring his first NHL goal, Predators defensemen amassed five goals for the first time in franchise history, and the Predators became the first team since Edmonton on March 21, 2004 to receive five goals from blueliners. J-P Dumont also tied a franchise record and set a career high with five points (1g-4a). Ottawa’s most recent trip to Music City ended in a 2-0 win for the Senators and evened Nashville’s home record against it to 3-3-0.
The Predators have won three of the last four meetings of the clubs dating back to Dec. 14, 2006, a 6-0 win at Bridgestone Arena on a night another franchise record fell. With the home team already up 3-0, Steve Sullivan went to work in the second period, posting a natural hat trick in a span of 5:56, the fastest three goals scored by an individual in Predators history. Dumont assisted on all three of Sullivan’s goals, his sixth career three-goal game. Three years to the date later, Sullivan would post his seventh hat trick in a 5-3 victory at Columbus.
Dumont has 12 points (2g-10a) in just four games against Ottawa as a Predator, and 27 points (10g-17a) in 35 games against the Senators in his career… Martin Erat has six points (1g-5a) in six career games against the Sens… Both Suter and Sullivan have five points (3g-2a) in four games against Ottawa as a Predator, while Weber has four points (2g-2a) in four games.
Career highs/highlights attained against the Senators J-P Dumont – Career-high five points/four assists on Oct. 22, 2009. Cody Franson – First NHL goal on Oct. 22, 2009 against goaltender Pascal Leclaire. Ryan Suter – Career-high two goals/three assist on Oct. 22, 2009.
Steve Sullivan – Sixth career hat trick on Dec. 14, 2006. First of seven career penalty shots on March 6, 1999 against goaltender Ron Tugnutt (no goal). Shea Weber – Most recent of six career two-goal games on Oct. 22, 2009.
PREDATORS VS. THE EAST
The Nashville Predators have done quite well in inter-conference contests both this season and beyond. They are 6-1-4 against the Eastern Conference in 2010-11, and 18-5-6 against the opposite conference since the start of the 2008-09 campaign. Several notable accomplishments have occurred in those six wins this season, including: Anders Lindback’s first two career shutouts in back-to-back contests against the Florida Panthers (Dec. 111) and New York Islanders (Dec. 13), Nashville’s first five-goal performance of 2010-11 against Carolina (Dec. 4), Pekka Rinne’s second whitewash of the season at Montreal (Nov. 18).
A season ago against the East, Nashville put up a franchise-record 55 shots in a 2-0 shutout of Montreal, registered five overtime/shootout wins – including shootout decisions against defending Cup champions Pittsburgh and eventual 2010 Eastern Conference champs Philadelphia and a season-high seven goals against Tampa Bay.
SUTER GETS THE OFFENSE GOING Ryan Suter has recorded a point in six consecutive games (1g-7a), just two games shy of his career-long scoring streak (8 games from March 3-18, 2009). The streak also includes a career-best six game assist scoring streak. Suter had a tough start to the season recording six points in his first 16 games while battling injuries that forced him out of an additional 11 contests. The Madison, Wis., native’s 167 career points (28g-139a) rank fourth all-time among club defensemen, and he’s only eight points shy of tying Marek Zidlicky (35g-140a-175pts) for third on the list. Suter’s 13 assists lead the team, while his +7 rating is tied for team honors with Marcel Goc. The Predators are 13-4-5 with Suter in the lineup vs. 4-6-1 without him.
RINNE AND LINDBACK ANCHOR STRONG DEFENSIVE SIDE
The Nashville Predators have allowed two goals or fewer in 12 of the last 17 games dating back to Nov. 18 vs. Montreal, posting a 10-4-3 record in that span. Nashville has given up just 31 non-shootout goals in that stretch, an average of 1.82 goals against per game. For the season, the Predators are averaging just 2.46 goals against per game, sixth-best in the National Hockey League. They have allowed just 25 second period goals, tied for second fewest in the league. The Predators have also allowed just 25 third period goals, fourth fewest this season.
The penalty kill has been a large part of the team’s defensive success – in the last 17 games, the unit has extinguished 53 of the last 58 chances against (91.4 percent) and rank ninth in the League (84.0 percent).
ELLIS TO SERVE AS CAPTAIN OF CANADIAN JUNIORS Ryan Ellis, Nashville’s first choice (11th overall) in the 2009 Entry Draft, will serve as captain of Team Canada at the 2011 World Junior Championships, which start Sunday in Buffalo, N.Y. Ellis is the 31st Canadian junior team captain since the start of Hockey Canada's Program of Excellence 1982, following in the footsteps of names such as Eric Lindros, Jarret Stoll, Scottie Upshall and Mike Richards. The 5-9, 179-pound offensive blueliner is only the seventh player since then to represent Canada at three world junior tournaments, joining Jay Bouwmeester (2000-02), Jason Spezza (2000-02), Jason Botterill (1995-97), Martin Lapointe (1991-93), Lindros (1990-92), and Trevor Kidd (1990-92).
Canada’s all-time top scoring defenseman at the IIHF World Junior Championship with 15 points in 12 games, Ellis earned a silver medal at the 2010 World Junior tournament and gold at the 2009 tourney. Preds 2010 Draftees Patrick Cehlin (Sweden) and David Elsner (Germany) will also participate in this year's tournament.
Tonight marks the close of Nashville’s seventh set of back-to-backs this season; it plays 13 total in 2010-11. The Predators are 4-3-0 in game one and 3-2-1 in game two of back-to-backs this season…The Predators are 4-1-0 at home during the month of December… Nashville has outscored the opposition 22-12 over the past eight home games, going 5-1-2 in that span. Its goals-against average in those eight games is 1.47... Nashville alternates home and road games over the next two weeks (after tonight: two more road, two more home), prior to heading out West to play 10-of-12 away from the Music City from Jan. 5 until the All-Star Break… Nashville’s PK unit is ranked third in the NHL at home, thwarting 47-of-54 opponent power-plays at Bridgestone Arena this season. The seven power-plays surrendered on home ice are the second fewest in the League in ’10-11… The Predators are 15-3-1 when scoring three-or-more goals and 17-2-5 when allowing fewer than three goals… The 2010-11 edition of the Predators’ 17-10-6 record (40 points) through 33 games is the team’s best start since 2006-07 when they went 22-8-3 (47 points) en route to posting franchise records in points (110) and wins (51)… One game after having his career-best eight game point streak come to an end, Sergei Kostitsyn netted a goal last night to move to 11 points (4g-7a) in his last 10 games after posting three points (2g-1a) in the first 19 games of 2010-11… Martin Erat has 11 points (3g-8a) in his last 10 games as well, playing predominately on a line with Kostitsyn and Marcel Goc... Jerred Smithson won 11-of-16 faceoffs last night at Chicago and has won 27-of-44 draws over the past three games (61.4%) to improve to 57.3% on the season, 11th best in the NHL... Shea Weber has 15 goals during the 2010 calendar year (Jan. 2010 - Dec. 2010), second most among league defensemen over that time period, one behind Nicklas Lidstrom's 16 goals.