TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. COLORADO
Having won each of its previous three 2010-11 meetings with Colorado this season – and four straight going back to Feb. 4, 2010 – Nashville will be looking to complete a sweep of a Western Conference foe for the seventh time in franchise history tonight at the Pepsi Center. The Predators won all four of their games against Edmonton in 2006-07 and 2007-08, Calgary in 2005-06 and Los Angeles in 2008-09 while going perfect in eight games against St. Louis in 2005-06 and Columbus in 2006-07. The last two times these teams met, Nashville claimed two-goal victories on home ice. Most recently on March 12, the Preds jumped out to a two-goal lead on first-period markers by Shea Weber and Matt Halischuk to claim a 4-2 decision, and one month earlier (Feb. 12) by a 5-3 score in Mike Fisher’s team debut. After relinquishing the first goal of the game, Martin Erat led the offensive charge, posing three points (1g-2a), while both Patric Hornqvist and David Legwand notched a goal and an assist. The Preds and Avs’ first meeting of the season – and most recent tilt in Denver – came Jan. 20 and also saw Nashville put up five goals, scoring a pair in the first period, and three more in the third en route to a 5-1 victory. Twelve different Predators reached the scoresheet in the win, and Pekka Rinne stopped 32-of-33 shots in the win. Nashville has posted a 9-11-(1)-2 record all-time in the Mile High City, but is 8-6-1 in its last 15 trips to Colorado.
Erat has six points (2g-4a) in three games against Colorado this season to lead all Predators. Both Legwand (2g-2a) and Hornqvist (1g-3a) have four points in a pair of games vs. Colorado this season, with Hornqvist posting a +6 rating. Hornqvist tied a franchise record with three points (2g-1a) in the second period of Nashville’s Feb. 4, 2010 victory at Bridgestone Arena (5-3), and has 11 points (5g-6a) in eight career games against Colorado… Halischuk scored his first goal as a Predator in the Jan. 20 contest… Cody Franson scored the game-winning goal in the Feb. 12 game, and posted a goal and an assist in the opening game of the season series, giving him four points (3g-1a) in five career games vs. the Avs… Weber has eight points (3g-5a) in his last seven games against Colorado… J-P Dumont has 23 points (7g-16a) in 27 career games vs. the Avalanche… Rinne has gone 3-0-0 with a 2.01 goals-against average and a .933 save percentage this season against Colorado.
KOSTITSYN’S POINT STREAK HITS SEVEN
First-year Predator Sergei Kostitsyn assisted on Nashville’s lone goal on Tuesday vs. Vancouver, stretching his active point streak to seven games. The Novopolotsk, Belarus native now has three point streaks spanning six games or more since Dec. 1 after posting no longer than a four-game streak (2g-2a, Dec. 20-27, 2007) in his first 174 NHL contests. His current streak has seen him amass nine points (3g-6a), move into a tie for the team goal-scoring lead with Patric Hornqvist (19) and slide into the No. 3 spot on the club in points (44), two more than his older brother Andrei has with the Montreal Canadiens. Since Dec. 1, Kostitsyn has a team-best 41 points (17g-24a) in 53 games. In his previous 122 games from the start of the 2008-09 season to Nov. 30, 2010 vs. Phoenix, Kostitsyn posted 44 points (17g-27a). He also leads the League in shooting percentage (22.4).
FISHER FINDS THE BACK OF THE NET
After posting one goal and three assists in his first 20 games as a Predator, Mike Fisher has scored three times in the last two games, bringing his season total up to 18 goals, just two shy of his fifth 20-goal season in the last six campaigns. Since being acquired by Nashville on Feb. 10, the Peterborough, Ont., native is one of just three forwards averaging more than 18 minutes a game (18:03, along with David Legwand and Martin Erat). Fisher has finished with a plus or even rating in 13 of the last 15 games, helping the club to a 10-3-2 mark in that span. Additionally, Fisher leads all NHL forwards in blocked shots (84).
LEGWAND AND ERAT FORM DYNAMIC DUO DOWN THE STRETCH
The two longest tenured Predators – David Legwand and Martin Erat – have made up two-thirds of the Predators top line since the All-Star break, helping push the team into playoff position. Though Legwand saw a career-high six-game point streak snapped on Tuesday vs. Vancouver (6g-3a), he is just two games removed from his first multi-goal performance since March 3, 2009 vs. Edmonton (in Saturday’s 4-2 win over Dallas) and has played more than 20 minutes in 11 of the last 14 games. Since Feb. 9, Legwand is averaging a point per game with 23 (10g-13a) in 23 outings. Erat, meanwhile, has 13 points (5g-8a) in his last 13 games and 25 points (9g-16a) in 27 games since the All-Star break. He is just two points shy of becoming the second 400-point man in franchise history (138g-260a).
PLAYER QUICK HITS
Both Joel Ward and Patric Hornqvist are just one point shy of the century mark for their careers. Hornqvist has three two-assist performances in the last six games, amassing seven points (1g-6a) in that span… Ryan Suter has seven assists in his last seven games, and paces the team and ranks among the Top 20 blueliners in helpers (34). He’s also tied for ninth at the position in plus/minus rating (+24)… Pekka Rinne has started 37 of Nashville’s last 41 games, allowing two goals or fewer 25 times in that span. While he has posted the League’s second-best goals-against average (2.10) and save percentage (.929) this season, his numbers are even better since the start of the 37-start stretch on New Year’s Eve. He has 22 wins in that span – tied for second in the NHL – with a 1.96 goals-against average and a .936 save percentage… Kevin Klein is tied for fifth in the NHL in blocked shots (166). He is one of just nine NHLers with at least 150 blocked shots and 120 hits… Colin Wilson has 10 of his 15 goals – and 20 of his 33 points – in road games… J-P Dumont paces the team in road plus/minus rating (+10), 16 points better than his home rating.
TEAM QUICK HITS
The Predators are coming off their second six-game winning streak since Dec. 31 and have posted a 10-3-2 record in their last 15 games… Nashville is one of just three teams to hit the 40-win mark in each season since 2005-06, along with Detroit and San Jose. Calgary (38 wins) and New Jersey (34 wins) are the only other teams that can attain the feat. NHL since the start of 2005-06 (269), behind only Detroit (301), San Jose (291), Vancouver (275) and New Jersey (274)… The Predators rank third in the League in goals-against average (2.31), and fifth-best five-on five goals for/against ratio (1.16)… Nashville has won 17 consecutive times when scoring three or more goals, and are 38-4-1 when doing so this season… The Predators have 19 road wins, the third-most in franchise history behind 23 road win seasons in 2009-10 and 2006-07… Nashville has scored a first-period goal 11 times in the last 12 games, outscoring the opposition 17-7 in that span. For the season, the Preds have a +18 first-period goal differential, fourth-best in the NHL… The Predators have given up the fewest second-period goals in the League (54)… Nashville has the League’s third-best record when outshooting the opposition (19-10-4)... Nashville has lost 322 man games, second-most in franchise history behind only 391 lost in the franchise’s inaugural season (1998-99)… One hundred and two of Nashville’s 197 non-shootout goals this season have been scored by players 25 or younger (51.8 percent). At 26 years, 140 days, the Predators have the fifth-youngest active roster in the League.