SIX IN A ROW
The Nashville Predators won their season-high sixth game in a row on Tuesday vs. Minnesota, the eighth time in franchise history – and third time in the last 108 games dating back to November 2009 – that they’ve had a streak of such length. Nashville sat in 12th place in the Western Conference the morning the streak started, Dec. 31, and has since moved up to fourth. The Predators have outscored their opponents 24-7 over the six games, scoring four-or-more goals, and allowing just one goal, in five of the six. The Preds have scored goals in 15-of-18 periods with six multi-goal periods and three three-goal periods. This all despite being outshot 179-166.
With a 23-13-6 record and 52 points, the Predators are just one point shy of last season’s 42-game pace (25-14-3, 53 points) which saw the team finish with 100 points for the third time in club history. The Predators’ first-half success has come despite playing 23 road games, tied for the third-most in the League.
Predators captain Shea Weber started his Tuesday by being named to his second consecutive All-Star Game, then later that night extended his career-high point streak to six games. Not only did the Sicamous, B.C., native’s 10 points (2g-8a) during the streak pace the team, but also tied him for first with Vancouver’s Daniel Sedin (6g-4a) and Carolina’s Tuomu Ruutu (3g-7a), for the most points in the NHL since it started on New Year’s Eve (prior to Wednesday’s games). Weber’s +12 rating in the two-week stretch stands alone atop the League, with defensive partner Ryan Suter in second at +11. Weber now has 15 points (3g-12a) in the last 15 games, and is one of just three defensemen – along with Atlanta’s Dustin Byfuglien and Phoenix’s Keith Yandle – to lead his team in points. In addition to being among the Top 10 blueliners in goals (7) and Top 15 in points (25), the 6-4, 232-pounds is ranked second at the position in shots (138), tied for ninth in hits (108) and is 11th in average ice time (24:42). The Predators are 7-0-0 this season when their captain scores, and 11-1-1 when he records a point. Since the start of the 2006-07 campaign, only Washington’s Mike Green (77) has more goals than Weber (69) among NHL defensemen.
OTHER OFFENSIVE HOT STREAKS
Though he saw his five-game goal streak come to an end on Tuesday, Sergei Kostitsyn has 20 points (9g-11a) and a +10 rating since Dec. 1, including point streaks of eight and six games during that span. The Novopolotsk, Belarus native has already set a career high in goals (11), and leads the National Hockey League in shooting percentage (25.0).
Defenseman Ryan Suter has five assists in the past six games, putting his point total at 13 (1g-12a) in his last 15 games. His +11 rating in the last six games – tied for second in the League in that span – has moved him into a tie for eighth among NHL blueliners in the category at +17. His 18 assists are also tied with Weber for the team lead, and the club is 19-7-5 with him in the lineup vs. 4-6-1 without him.
Patric Hornqvist saw a career-high five-game point streak end on Tuesday, but has eight points in his last six games, including three multi-point outings and three game-winning goals. He is tied with Kostitsyn for second on the team in points (13g-10a), and paces the Preds in goals. Paired with his franchise-record tying eight game winning goals from 2009-10, he is tied with Daniel Sedin and Alex Ovechkin for the most game winners since the start of the 2009-10 season (12).
Since returning from a lower-body injury that saw him miss 18-of-19 games between Nov. 20 and Dec. 28, David Legwand has five points (2g-3a) in six games (all wins)… Marcel Goc posted his second multi-point performance of the season on Tuesday (1g-1a), giving him four points (1g-3a) in the last four games… Colin Wilson has seven points (3g-4a) in his last seven outings and 15 points (8g-7a) in 22 games since American Thanksgiving (Nov. 25). The second-year forward had six points (2g-4a) in his first 20 games of 2010-11.
RINNE DURING THE STREAK
Goaltender Pekka Rinne has started five of the six games during Nashville’s win streak, allowing just one goal in each to go along with a .967 save percentage. The Kempele, Finland native has allowed two goals or fewer in 12 of his last 14 starts, lowering his goals-against average to 2.11 – third-best in the NHL – and upping his save percentage to .928, tied for fourth in the League. Rinne has 17 shutouts since Dec. 1, 2008, tied with Tomas Vokoun for tops in the category since that date.
As a team, the Predators rank second in the NHL in goals-against average (2.29). They’ve given up the fewest second-period goals (31) and second-fewest third-period markers (31). The defense is aided by a penalty kill that’s been perfect 27 times through 42 games, has successfully extinguished 22-of-23 (95.7 percent) chances against since the Christmas Break, and 77-of-84 man-down situations (91.7 percent) in the last 26 games, to move to third in the League (85.7 percent). Nashville is 18-5-4 when not allowing a power-play marker.
ON THE ROAD
Four of the Predators six straight victories have come on the road, tied for the fourth longest road winning streak in franchise history behind a seven-gamer (Oct. 16-Nov. 4, 2006) and a pair of five gamers (March 12-April 3, 2010 and Dec. 29, 2009-Jan. 15, 2010). Nashville is 7-2-1 in its last 10 road games, and its 13 road wins are tied for fourth in the League. The team is on pace for 23 road victories, which would tie the franchise record hit last season and in 2006-07.
After next week’s six-game road trip, the Predators will have to leave Bridgestone Arena just 11 times, playing 21 at home from February-April. Since 2005-06, Nashville has amassed 141 home wins, which puts them in a tied for second behind Detroit’s 150 home wins.
TEAM QUICK HITS
The Predators are 7-2-4 against the Eastern Conference this season, including a 4-0-2 mark vs. the Southeast Division. Since the start of last season, Nashville has gone 19-6-6 against the East and 10-0-3 against the Southeast… Nashville’s power play has gone 10-for-43 (23.3 percent) over the last 15 games after clicking at 11.1 percent in the prior 27 games (11-for-99)… Nashville has scored 21 of its 24 goals at even and full strength during its six-game winning streak, and now has the eighth-best five-on-five goal differential in the League (1.15).