TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. DALLAS
The Nashville Predators and Dallas Stars wrap up their 2010-11 season series tonight at Bridgestone Arena with the home team in search of a series split for the third consecutive season. Since winning the opening game of the series 1-0 on Oct. 23, the Predators have dropped two straight to the Stars, the last time they came to town on Dec. 28 by a 4-2 score and in the most recent meeting, 3-2, on Feb. 26 in a matinee contest at American Airlines Arena. The early season victory in “Big D” was the first half of Nashville’s second back-to-back set this season, one that saw it play at Tampa Bay less than 18 hours later. The Preds would get the only goal they needed from Cal O’Reilly just 42 seconds into the opening frame and Pekka Rinne stopped all 30 shots he saw for his first shutout of the season in the 1-0 victory. The Predators would go on to top the Lightning by a 4-3 score on Oct. 24. In Dallas’ last game in the Music City, Colin Wilson notched his first career two-goal game in the 4-2 loss. The contest one month ago saw Loui Eriksson break a 2-2 tie with just 3:32 left in regulation to lift Dallas to victory. Wilson (1g-1a) and David Legwand (2a) each notched multi-point performances, but it was Blake Geoffrion who garnered headlines as he became the first Tennessee native and first fourth-generation player to make it to the NHL by playing his first career game.
Nashville is 12-10-(1)-0 all-time at home against Dallas, with its last win coming on Halloween 2009 (Oct. 31). Despite being outscored 7-5 in the series to this point, the Preds are outshooting the Stars by a 97-80 margin, including a plus-18 advantage in the opening two periods (70-52).
Wilson has four points (3g-1a) in three games against Dallas this season… Newest Predator Mike Fisher has seven points (3g-4a) in 12 career games against the Stars… Since joining the Preds in 2006, J-P Dumont has 14 points (4g-10a) in 18 games against the Stars… David Legwand also has a hat trick against Dallas, recording it on Opening Night of the 2007-08 season in a 3-1 victory… Both Patric Hornqvist and currently injured Marcel Goc recorded their first NHL goals against former Dallas goalie Marty Turco. Hornqvist did it on Oct. 15, 2008 in his second career game, while Goc score his on Oct. 26, 2005 while with San Jose… Joel Ward posted the first multi-goal/point game of his career with a pair, including the game winner, in a 3-0 victory over Dallas on Dec. 13, 2008.
FORTY WINS/21 HOME WINS, SIX STRAIGHT SEASONS
The Nashville Predators’ win over the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday was their 40th of the season, and 21st victory on home ice in 2010-11. It marks the sixth consecutive season the Predators have reached the 40/21-wins mark, something accomplished by few others. Nashville joins Detroit and San Jose as the only teams to hit the 40-win mark in each season since 2005-06, with Calgary (37 wins) and New Jersey (34 wins) the only other teams that can attain the feat. The Preds have the fifth-most wins in the NHL since the start of 2005-06 (268), behind only Detroit (300), San Jose (290), New Jersey (274) and Vancouver (272). The Predators are just the fourth team to hit the 21-win mark for the sixth straight season, joining Vancouver, Anaheim and San Jose. Detroit (19), New Jersey (18) and Minnesota (17) can also join the fraternity this season. Nashville has the second-most home wins (152) behind only the Red Wings (156) since 2005-06.
DUELING FIVE-GAME POINT STREAKS Sergei Kostitsyn notched his second two-goal game as a Predator, and David Legwand potted the game winner, on Nashville’s fourth shorthanded goal of the season in Thursday’s victory, extending each player’s active point streak to five games. For Legwand, the five-game streak – which has seen him amass four goals and three assists – ties a career high. In the past 14 games, the Detroit native has posted 16 points (6g-10a), and he’s averaging a point per game over the last 21 contests (8g-13a-21pts). With 39 points (15g-24a) in 57 games this season, Legwand has matched his 82-game output from 2009-10. His +15 rating is now tops among Nashville forwards, and he also leads all club forwards in ice time (18:34). The two-goal game for Kostitsyn not only moved him into a tie for the team goal-scoring lead (19), but gives him seven points (3g-4a) in his last five games as well. With 42 points (19g-23a) in 70 games, the Novopolotsk, Belarus native has now surpassed his point total from the past two seasons combined (15g-26a-41pts). He scored his two goals on three shots vs. Anaheim, boosting his League-leading shooting percentage to 22.6.
MORE HOT STREAKS Martin Erat had a four-game point streak snapped on Thursday, but remains in a tie with Shea Weber for the team points lead with 45. Erat has points in eight of his last 11 games, amassing five goals and seven helpers in that span. In 25 games since Feb. 1, the Trebic, Czech Republic native has 24 points (9g-15a) and is just three points shy of becoming the second 400-point man in franchise history (138g-259a). Weber’s 45 points are the second-most in his career, and put him ninth among NHL defensemen. Sixteen of the Sicamous, B.C., native’s points are goals, tying him for second among blueliners in 2010-11, and tied for first with Washington’s Mike Green in goals since the start of the 2006-07 campaign (78). He also ranks third at the position in shots (238), fourth in hits (202) and seventh in the League in average ice time (25:21). Weber is currently tied with Scott Hartnell for 10th on the franchise’s all-time points list… Ryan Suter has six assists in his last five games, and leads the team category (33). Suter is also tied for 10th in the NHL in plus/minus rating (+26)… Patric Hornqvist had a two-assist game for the second time in his last four tilts, and paired with the game-winning goal on Tuesday vs. Edmonton, has five points (1g-4a) in five games. The Sollentuna, Sweden native ranks fifth in game-winning goals since the start of the 2009-10 campaign (13)… Rookie blueliner Jonathon Blum notched an assist against his hometown team, giving him points (2g-2a) in four of his last six outings… Blake Geoffrion has four goals in his last four games.