TV: Fox Sports Tennessee (DirecTV 644 SD, 644-1 HD; Dish 446 SD, 9516 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. LOS ANGELES
The Predators continue their tour of California tonight at the Staples Center, the third of four games between Nashville and Los Angeles this season. The Kings have claimed each of the first two meetings this season, most recently claiming a 6-1 decision at Bridgestone Arena on Dec. 18. That loss marked the first time in 11 games dating back to Nov. 26 that the Predators failed to pick up a point (8-0-2 record), the first time they allowed five-or-more goals on home ice since Dec. 5, 2009 vs. Minnesota (3-5), and their first loss by five goals since Nov. 30, 2009 vs. Calgary (0-5). 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. Los Angeles is the only team Nashville has a winning record against on the road (12-8-(0)-3) but a losing record against at home (8-12-(3)-0).
Nashville’s 7-2-0 record in Tinseltown since the beginning of the 2006-07 campaign has come courtesy of games at polar ends of the competition level. The Preds and Kings played four straight games that were decided by two goals or less between Nov. 15, 2008 and March 14, 2010. Two of the four saw Nashville score the game winner in the third period after being tied/trailing earlier in the final frame. Prior to that stretch, four straight were decided by three-or-more goals, including two decisions by six-or-more. The Predators were handed a 6-0 defeat on Oct. 23, 2007, but avenged the loss on Jan. 8, 2008 when it posted the largest margin of defeat in a road game with a 7-0 victory. Darcy Hordichuk (5:25), Jason Arnott (6:11) and David Legwand (6:40) combined for the fastest three goals in franchise history in that game, scoring in a span of 1:15 in the opening frame.
Steve Sullivan scored Nashville’s lone goal of the Dec. 18 matchup – his most recent goal – and 13 points (5g-8a) in 14 games against Los Angeles in a Preds sweater… Martin Erat has 14 points (2g-12a) in his last 12 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 30 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 17 games against L.A. as a Predator, and 22 points (11g-11a) in 26 career games against the Kings … Joel Ward has six points (3g-3a) in 10 games vs. the Kings in his career… Shane O’Brien scored his first goal as a Predator in the team’s last trip to L.A., and his first NHL game came against the Kings on Oct. 6, 2006 (with Anaheim).
HORNQVIST GETS HOT Patric Hornqvist scored for the third consecutive game last night at Anaheim, and notched multiple points for the second straight outing, giving him five points (3g-2a) in those three games. Two of his three goals have been game winners, making Hornqvist the first Predator to three game-winning goals this season. Last night’s marker also moved the Sollentuna, Sweden native into sole possession of team goals lead (11), in addition to pushing him to the 20-point mark. Seven of Hornqvist’s 11 goals have come in the second period. A season ago Hornqvist became the first Nashville draft pick to score 30 goals for the team, in addition to tying for the club points lead (51).
WEBER EXTENDS POINT STREAK TO THREE GAMES
Captain Shea Weber put his second career shorthanded goal into an empty net with less than one second remaining in the third period of last night’s win, extending his point streak to three games. He has two goals and four assists in that span – and 11 points (3g-8a) in the last 12 contests – moving him into sole possession of first on the club in the category (7g-14a-21pts), and into the Top 10 in goals by a defenseman. The Predators are 7-0-0 this season when the Sicamous, B.C., native scores, something he’s done more than NHL defenseman not named Mike Green since the start of the 2006-07 campaign (Weber has 69 goals, Washington’s Green has 77). The 6-4, 232-pounder is also among the defensive leaders in shots (second with 130), hits (10th with 98) and average ice time (10th at 24:45).
KOSTITSYN USED EMPTY NET TO KEEP HOT STREAK GOING Sergei Kostitsyn scored the first of Nashville’s two empty netters last night, giving him goals in three straight games, tying a career high set March 11-16, 2010 with Montreal. He also has points in four straight, and has been held off the scoresheet just three times in Nashville’s last 16 games, amassing 15 points (7g-8a) in that span. Kostitsyn’s 19 points (9g-10a) are one more than his point total from all of 2009-10, and his nine goals is tied for a career high set in 2007-08.
RINNE GETS IT DONE Pekka Rinne allowed just one goal for the fourth time in his last five starts in last night’s win, lowering his goals-against average to 2.20, fifth-best in the NHL. It was the 17th time in 23 games since Nov. 18 that the Preds have allowed two goals or fewer. Since that date, Rinne has posted a 1.54 goals-against average, a .941 save percentage and a pair of shutouts. Last night, he saw a season-high 41 shots, stopping 40 of them – his highest save total since stopping 42-of-45 on March 16, 2010 vs. Philadelphia. The streak has allowed the team to drop its GAA to 2.36 – best in the West and third in the NHL.
The penalty kill has been a contributing factor to the defensive success, as it has extinguished 71-of-77 chances against (92.2 percent) over the 23-game period to rise to third in the League (85.7 percent). After Wednesday’s 4-for-4 performance, the penalty kill has not allowed a goal in five straight games, going 16-for-16 in that span.
TROTZ TIED FOR SIXTH ON WINS LIST
Barry Trotz – the Nashville Predators only head coach since entering the League in 1998 – collected his 431st career win on last night at Anaheim, tying him with Hall-of-Famer Dick Irvin’s total with the Montreal Canadiens (431 wins from 1940-55) for sixth on the all-time wins with one team list. Earlier this season, Trotz moved past Scotty Bowman’s tenure with the Canadiens (419 wins from 1971-79), and the last time Nashville visited Southern California (Nov. 7 at Anaheim), he passed Montreal’s Toe Blake to move into fifth on the all-time games coached with one team list. The top five coaches on the wins list are Al Arbour (740, N.Y. Islanders), Billy Reay (516, Chicago), Blake (500, Montreal), Lindy Ruff (499, Buffalo) and Glen Sather (464), while the top four on the games coached list are Arbour (1,500), Ruff (1,022), Reay (1,012) and Jack Adams (964, Detroit).
Tonight completes Nashville’s eighth set of back-to-backs; it plays a total of 13 in 2010-11. The team is 3-3-1 on the back-end thus far… Last night started a stretch of 10 road games out of 12 games overall until the All-Star Break. By the break, Nashville will have played 30 of its 41 road games… The Predators have given up a League-low 28 second-period goals… Nashville has been shorthanded 140 times, the second-fewest in the West. Its 9.7 penalty minutes per game also ranks second in the West, and is third in the League… David Legwand has three assists in three games since returning from missing 18-of-19 due to injury… Colin Wilson has four points (2g-2a) in his last four games… Joel Ward has points in three of his last four outings (1g-2a).