FIRST-TIMERS SHINE IN PREDATORS PLAYOFF DEBUTS Mike Fisher, acquired from the Ottawa Senators on Feb. 10, was stellar in his playoff debut for the Predators, setting a playoff career high with three points (2g-1a). It was the eighth two-goal performance in franchise playoff history, and only the third time a Predator has picked up three-or-more – Paul Kariya holds the record with a four-assist performance against San Jose in 2006, while David Legwand posted a three-point night (1g-2a) last year in Chicago. Fisher’s second goal 56 seconds into the final frame was the quickest to open a third period in Predators playoff history, a mark previously held by J-P Dumont (1:31 into the third period, 2010 WCQ Game One). Fisher’s three points were the most in the NHL last night, putting him atop the playoff scoring leaderboard. Prior to joining Nashville, Fisher accumulated 75 games of postseason experience with Ottawa; his 14 goals are second all-time in Senators franchise playoff history.
Rookies Blake Geoffrion and Jonathon Blum – a native of Rancho Santa Margarita, California – also picked up assists in their first career postseason contests while Shane O’Brien dished out a game-high six hits. O’Brien was an eighth-round selection of the Ducks in the 2003 Entry Draft held at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.
PREDATORS PICK UP ANOTHER ROAD WIN
For the second consecutive year, Nashville opened a playoff series with a 4-1 road win, its second win on opposition ice in franchise history. The Predators are now 3-3 in series-opening games, having defeated Chicago in 2010 and San Jose in 2006. The 4-1 win tied for the team’s largest-ever margin of victory, and for the most goals scored on the road.
SEASON SERIES WRAP-UP
Nashville won the season series with Anaheim 3-1, outscoring the Ducks 17-11. The series included a pair of three-goal wins including an opening-night 4-1 victory, and a 5-4 decision in the finale on March 24. Patric Hornqvist led all Predators in scoring vs. Anaheim, putting up seven points (3g-4a) in four games. Sergei Kostitsyn had 4 points (3g-1a) in two games against Anaheim, missing the first two meetings between the teams. Hornqvist and Cody Franson were each a team-high +6. Shea Weber and David Legwand each had a shorthanded goal against the Ducks in 2010-11, two of Nashville’s five total. Nashville had been 16-21-7 against Anaheim prior to 2010-11, but split the series in both 2008-09 and 2009-10.
PLAYOFF QUICK HITS
David Legwand, Martin Erat and Shea Weber are tied for first in all-time playoff scoring for Nashville, with 13 points apiece. J-P Dumont is one point back. Legwand led the team in scoring in last year’s postseason, picking up seven points (2g-5a) in six games, tying Paul Kariya for highest single-series output in franchise history. Mike Fisher leads all Predators in playoff experience with 76 games – prior to 2011, all were with the Ottawa Senators. Pekka Rinne picked up the win in Game One, moving him into a tie for first in franchise playoff victories with Tomas Vokoun (3). Jonathon Blum, Blake Geoffrion, Matt Halischuk all made their NHL playoff debuts on Wednesday. Cal O’Reilly and Anders Lindback have yet to appear in an NHL playoff game.
WESTERN CONFERENCE QUARTERFINALS GAME ONE
April 13, 2011: Nashville Predators 4, Anaheim Ducks 1 at the Honda Center
Nashville broke the mold last night by becoming the first road team, and first lower seed, of the 2011 Playoffs to leave the rink with a win. Home teams were victorious in the night’s four other matchups. The game was the first postseason tilt between Nashville and Anaheim.
The Predators opened the scoring on a power-play goal by captain Shea Weber just over four minutes into the first period. Weber’s goal moved him into a tie with Martin Erat and David Legwand for first in franchise playoff scoring with 13 points (6g-7a). It was just the fourth road power-play marker in franchise history, and first since April 12, 2008 vs. Detroit. Nashville scored only one man-advantage marker in last year’s postseason, in Game Six at Bridgestone Arena… Steve Sullivan gave the Predators a two-goal lead with his first goal since Dec. 18 vs. Los Angeles, and his first postseason goal since April 13, 2004 vs. Detroit… A pair of goals by Mike Fisher extended the lead to four and chased former Predator Dan Ellis from the net.
Pekka Rinne came within nine minutes of picking up his first-ever playoff shutout, allowing only a Teemu Selanne five-on-three power-play goal at the 11:24 mark of the third period. Rinne stopped 27-of-28 shots, including 11-of-12 in the third period. In three games (all victories) against the Ducks in the regular season, Rinne posted a 2.21 goals-against average and a .945 save percentage.
The teams combined for 50 penalty minutes in the third period, with Anaheim’s 40 PIMs just one minute shy of the most ever accumulated by an opposing team in a period (San Jose, 41 PIMs on April 13, 2007). Heading into the playoffs, the Ducks had racked up the fifth-most penalty minutes in the NHL (14.4 PIM/game), with Nashville ranking next-to-last (8.8 PIM/game) in the category.
Anaheim finished the season tied with San Jose for the second ranked power play in the League, scoring on 23.5 percent of their opportunities. Nashville was 26th at 15.2 percent. Each team was 1-for-5 with the man-advantage on Wednesday night.