TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. CALGARY
The Predators continue their first of two swings through Western Canada tonight in Calgary, the second of four contests between the clubs in 2010-11. The first Preds-Flames meeting of the campaign back on Oct. 16 in Nashville was highlighted by strong goaltending as both Pekka Rinne and Miikka Kiprusoff were perfect through regulation time. Rene Bourque scored the game’s only goal 2:10 into overtime as the Predators extended their season-opening point streak to five games (3-0-2). This continued the series trend of the road team winning –the road team won all four contests last season, with Nashville’s wins coming within a month of each other on Dec. 19, 2009 and Jan. 15, 2010. The win six days before Christmas saw Marcel Goc register his first career three-point game (1g-2a), and Martin Erat post an identical stat line in a 5-3 win. Nashville won with defense in its second trip through Alberta, receiving a 22-save shutout from Dan Ellis and a Patric Hornqvist goal with just 6:22 left in regulation in a 1-0 win.
Since 2005-06, the Predators are 6-3-1 at the Scotiabank Saddledome, sweeping two-game sets in 2005-06 and 2009-10. They are 9-7-(3)-3 in Cowtown all-time.
Marek Svatos has 13 goals and 19 points in 22 career games against Calgary – his highest goal total against any team and his second-highest point total… Since joining the Predators prior to the 2006-07 campaign, J-P Dumont has 14 points (5g-9a) in 17 games against the Flames… Erat has 22 points (6g-16a) in 27 career games vs. Calgary, one point shy of his highest career point total against a non-Central Division team (L.A., 23)… Hornqvist has four points (2g-2a) in six career contests against Calgary… Calgary is one of just three teams Rinne has yet to defeat in his career. He is 0-2-1 in four appearances against the Flames, 0-0-1 in one game against the New York Rangers and has yet to make an appearance against Washington.
RINNE STOPS ALL THREE ATTEMPTS, PREDS PICK UP THEIR SIXTH SHOOTOUT WIN
The Nashville Predators collected their sixth shootout win in eight appearances in the post-overtime skills contest last night in Edmonton, tying the Calgary Flames for the most in the NHL this season. Not only was it the Preds’ third straight shootout win, but also the third straight time Pekka Rinne has failed to yield a shootout tally. The 6-5, 207-pound netminder has stopped 11 straight shooters and is now 17-7 (.708) all-time in shootout games, third-highest since the implementation of the tiebreaker, while his save percentage (.792) is fourth-best all-time. He has stopped 23-of-27 shooters this season (.857), tops among goalies appearing in at least three shootouts.
The 3-2 decision at Edmonton was also the 10th time in the last 12 games – and the 24th time in the last 33 games – the Predators allowed two goals or fewer. They rank third in the NHL, and first in the Western Conference, in goals against average (2.33), with Rinne leading the charge. The Kempele, Finland native is 9-1-0 in his last 10 starts with 1.48 goals-against average and a .952 save percentage. He has the League’s highest win total since the calendar turned to 2011 (8), and is second among all netminders in both goals-against average (2.08) and save percentage (.929).
THE 60-POINT MARK
Nashville has now won three in a row, and is 10-2-0 since New Year’s Eve, to move to 27-15-6 on the season. The Predators became the ninth team in the NHL to hit the 60-point mark last night in Edmonton, despite it being their 28th road game, second-most in the League. With a 7-2-0 record in nine away games since Dec. 31, the Preds are tied for second in the League in road victories (16). After the All-Star Break, the club will play 21-of-32 games on home ice, where it has amassed 142 victories since 2005-06, just one shy of Anaheim and San Jose’s totals for second in the League (the Ducks have played 26 home games and the Sharks 24); Detroit sits first with 151 home victories. The Predators have taken to home ice a League-low 20 times in 2010-11.
During the 12-game hot streak, the Predators have scored four-or-more times on nine occasions, outscoring the opposition 44-23 in that span. They have registered a goal in all 12 third periods, racking up a 20-9 goal differential in the final frame, and have at least one goal in 27-of-36 periods. This all despite being outshot 371-321.
SPECIAL TEAMS SUCCESS
Nashville scored one of its two regulation goals on the power play at Edmonton, while the club’s penalty killers went a perfect four-for-four, the 30th time this season it has done so. The power play has now gone 17-for-91 (18.6 percent) since American Thanksgiving (Nov. 25) after clicking at 9.5 percent (7-for-73) in the first 20 games of the campaign. The penalty kill has now successfully extinguished 38-of-42 chances since the Christmas break, and rank third in the League (85.5 percent).
SULZER GETS FIRST GOAL, MULTI-POINT GAME
After collecting three assists in his first 40 NHL games dating back to 2008-09, Alexander Sulzer scored his first career goal, and pitched in an assist, on Sunday at Edmonton, making him the 117th player in Predators history to find the back of the net, and just the 10th German born-and-trained player to score in the NHL. The Kaufbeuren native has all three of his points this season (1g-2a) in the last four games. Sergei Kostitsyn and Cody Franson set up goal. For Kostitsyn, it gave him 22 points (10g-12a) in 25 games since Dec. 1. Franson also assisted on Nashville’s second goal, giving him back-to-back multi-point efforts (1g-3a) and five points (1g-4a) in his last four games. The Sicamous, B.C., native also scored the lone goal of the shootout, his first career shootout marker.
PLAYER QUICK HITS J-P Dumont – who scored two goals a week ago at Chicago (Jan. 16) and recorded his fourth career hat trick last Tuesday at Phoenix, and has six points (5g-1a) in his last four games… Martin Erat has points (1g-2a) in three of his last four games. He returned from missing nine contests due to injury five games ago… Patric Hornqvist has seven goals and 12 points in his last 12 games… Rookie Matt Halischuk, who was scratched last night, attained milestones in each of the road trip’s first three games – he played his first game as a Predator at Chicago last Sunday, recorded his first career multi-point/assist performance at Phoenix (2a) on Tuesday, then scored his first goal as a Predator (and second career goal) on Thursday at Colorado. His three points (1g-2a) in his past two games played equals his output from the first 21 games of his career with New Jersey from 2008-10… David Legwand has seen the Predators go 10-2-0 since he returned from missing 18-of-19 contests between Nov. 20 and Dec. 28. He has nine points (4g-5a) and a +10 rating in those 12 games… Colin Wilson has 10 points (5g-5a) in 12 games.