TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. SAN JOSE
The Predators will look to make it three-for-three against the Sharks in 2010-11 tonight at Bridgestone Arena. The last time the Sharks visited the Music City on Dec. 15, the home team pulled out a dramatic comeback in the final minutes of regulation as Sergei Kostitsyn tied the game at 2-2 with 3:16 left in regulation and Colin Wilson scored the winner just 44 seconds later. The last meeting in the series came at HP Pavilion on Jan. 8 and saw the Predators eke out a 2-1 win on a Kostitsyn goal at 6:23 of the third. It was Nashville’s first regulation-time victory in Silicon Valley since Dec. 7, 2002 and capped off the franchise’s second-ever sweep of California’s three teams on the same road trip. Pekka Rinne stopped 42-of-43 shots to claim First Star honors, improving his career record to 3-1-1 against San Jose.
Going back to Feb. 9, 2008, 10 of 12 games played between these clubs have been decided by a single goal, and five of the 10 have been a 4-3 result. Nashville is 12-10-(1)-0 all-time when hosting San Jose. Since reeling off a seven-game home winning streak from Nov. 27, 2007 to Feb. 14, 2007, it is 3-4-0 when hosting the Sharks.
All-time series highlights: Only nine times in Predators franchise history has the team, or its opponent, hit the 50-shot mark, but two of those have come against the Sharks. Nashville pelted San Jose with 52 shots on Oct. 14, 1999 in a 5-1 loss at Bridgestone Arena, a total that would stand as the franchise record for more than 10 years. On Nov. 11, 2008, San Jose tied the record for most shots against the Predators with 57 in a game Nashville won at HP Pavilion, in overtime, by a 4-3 margin. On the other side of the ledger, the teams set a Nashville record for fewest shots in a period by both teams in the first period of a 2-0 Nashville win at San Jose (Nashville 3, San Jose 2) and on Feb. 9, 2008, the Preds put 13 shots on goal in a 4-3 loss in Northern California, the third-lowest total in the record books.
Marcel Goc, Shea Weber and Ryan Suter all have a pair of assists against the Sharks this season. For Goc, it gives him three points (1g-2a) in five games against the team that drafted him 20th overall in 2001 (highest ever by a German). He scored his first goal as a Predator against the Sharks on Nov. 10, 2009, and set a career high for shots on goal (7) against them on March 11, 2010. The Calw native posted 54 points (20g-34a) in 265 regular-season games with the Sharks from 2005-09, and eight points (3g-5a) in 37 playoff games. One of the three playoff goals sent San Jose to its last appearance in the Western Conference Finals – he scored the series-clinching goal in Game Six of the 2004 Western Conference Semifinals against Colorado… His game-winning goal in the Dec. 15 matchup gave Wilson three points (2g-1a) in three career games against the Sharks… Joel Ward – who notched a career-high three points (1g-2a) against San Jose in a 4-3 win on Nov. 17, 2009 – has five points (3g-2a) in nine career games against S.J… J-P Dumont scored his first NHL goal against Steve Shields on March 6, 1999 as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks. He led Nashville in points and goals during the 2007 playoff series between the clubs with six (4g-2a) in five games… As a Predator, Steve Sullivan has 11 points (4g-6a) in 13 games against San Jose, including a hat trick in his first game with the club, against the Sharks, on Feb. 18, 2004.
MIKE FISHER MAKES HIS PREDATORS DEBUT
Newest Predator Mike Fisher suited up for his first game with the club in Saturday’s 5-3 victory over the Colorado Avalanche, and made his presence felt in front of a sell-out crowd. The Peterborough, Ont., native – acquired from Ottawa last Thursday – played 18:10, fourth-most among Nashville forwards, won 12 of the 16 face-offs he took (75 percent), and collected an assist on David Legwand’s empty-net goal for his first point as a Predator, making him the first player to show up in the scoring summary in his team debut since Denis Grebeshkov did it vs. Edmonton on March 2, 2010 (1g-1a). Fisher also created the screen which led to Shea Weber’s goal in the opening frame, leaving him with a +2 rating for the night.
Though the Predators gave up more than two goals for the second straight game on home ice in Saturday’s win over Colorado, they improved to 5-1-1 in their last seven games at Bridgestone Arena, and continue to be the League’s top defensive team when playing in their own barn – Nashville has allowed just 46 non-shootout goals in 24 home games, an average of 1.92. Much of this success is due to a penalty kill which ranks second on home ice (89.4 percent) and third overall (86.2 percent). Since the Christmas break, the PK has extinguished 25-of-26 power-plays in eight games. The killers have been perfect in six of the last seven contests overall – going 22-for-23 in that span – and in 36-of-56 games in 2010-11. Nashville is 23-8-5 in those 36 games.
Nashville plays just its 25th home game of the season tonight, lowest in the league. It plays 17 of its final 26 games on home ice where it has amassed 144 wins since the start of the 2005-06 campaign, tied for third in the League over that span.
POWER PLAY CONVERTS AGAIN
The Nashville power play went one-for-three in Saturday’s win, the fifth time in the last six games it has found the back of the net. The unit has gone 5-for-20 (25 percent) in that span after going 3-for-34 over the previous 10 games (8.8 percent). The Preds are 14-6-2 when scoring a man-advantage goal.
WEBER SCORES AGAIN, KEEPS ON POINT-PER-GAME PACE IN 2011
Nashville captain Shea Weber scored his 11th goal of the season, the team’s first of the game, on Saturday, continuing the 2011 All-Star’s hot streak which started on New Year’s Eve in Minnesota. The Sicamous, B.C., native has 20 points (6g-14a) in 20 games since that date, tying him for first among blueliners in points over that span with Phoenix’s Keith Yandle. Additionally, his +14 rating since Dec. 31 is tied for first among all skaters. Weber has the second-most goals among NHL defensemen since the start of the 2006-07 campaign (73, Washington’s Mike Green has 77) and is just four goals behind Kimmo Timonen for 10th on the franchise’s overall goals list and first among blueliners. The 6-4, 232-pounder is tied for third among defensemen in goals and 12th in points (35). He, Yandle and Atlanta’s Dustin Byfuglien are the only blueliners to leader their teams in scoring outright. He also is among the d-men leaders in shots (third, 182), average ice time (10th, 25:04) and hits (seventh, 150).
RINNE GETS MILESTONE WIN Pekka Rinne collected his 82nd career victory on Saturday vs. Colorado, his 20th win of the season, moving him past Mike Dunham (81) and into second on the franchise’s all-time wins list behind only Tomas Vokoun (161). Rinne has given up two goals or fewer in 13 of his last 17 starts, ranks second in the NHL in save percentage (.928) and is third in goals-against average (2.11). Rinne has an 18-6-1 record when he receives at least two goals from his offense, and is 14-2-1 when the Predators score at least three goals.
TEAM QUICK HITS
The Predators are 30-19-7 through 56 games, good for 67 points. That is one more point than they had through 56 games last season (31-21-4 record) when the team put up 100 points for the third time in franchise history and made the playoffs for the fifth time in six seasons… Nashville is tied for second in goals against average (2.32) and has giving up the fewest second-period goals in the League (37)... The Preds have the League’s second-best record when trailing after both one period (7-9-1) and two periods (4-12-0).