THIRD LINE HELPS NASHVILLE ADVANCE Jerred Smithson was the unlikely hero in Game Five against Anaheim, giving the Predators their first overtime victory in playoff history, but his line wasn’t done producing for Nashville. Smithson – flanked by Nick Spaling and Jordin Tootoo – also provided vital scoring in the final game of the series. Spaling finished out the series against the Ducks in grand fashion, notching four points in the final two games, with two goals – the game-winner included – in Game Six. The Palmerston, Ontario native posted a pair of two-goal efforts in the regular season, both of which came against the Minnesota Wild. Spaling is in his second season with the Predators but actually began the 2010-11 campaign with the Milwaukee Admirals (AHL) before being recalled on Oct. 18, 2010. Tootoo’s play was also crucial to the Predators’ final pair of victories. Like Spaling, Tootoo had a multi-point outing in each of Game Five and Game Six, picking up five points in the series all told. The winger more than doubled his previous playoff output of four points (2g-2a) in 24 games.
SCORE ONE MORE THAN THE OTHER TEAM
Despite Nashville’s reputation as a defensive-minded low-scoring team, the Predators’ series against Anaheim was anything but. The teams combined for 42 goals (NSH 22, ANA 20), making their WCQ the highest-scoring series in the 2011 Playoffs so far and representing 10 more than were scored in Nashville’s series against Chicago in 2010 (the previous watermark). Corey Perry, Teemu Selanne, Saku Koivu, Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan all produced at a point-per-game pace or better but Nashville countered with a balanced attack that saw 18 of 19 skaters earn a point. Goaltender Pekka Rinne also tallied an assist on Spaling’s series-clinching goal in Game Six, the first time a Nashville netminder had garnered a point in postseason play.
PLAYOFF QUICK HITS
After 984 regular season games and 34 postseason contests, the Nashville Predators advanced to the second round of the playoffs for the first time in 2011. Only three players remain from the team’s first postseason appearance in 2004 (David Legwand, Martin Erat and Tootoo)… Legwand and Shea Weber are tied for first in franchise playoff scoring (17 pts), while Erat 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 81 games – prior to 2011, all were with the Ottawa Senators. Jonathon Blum, Blake Geoffrion, Matt Halischuk and Anders Lindback all made their NHL playoff debuts in the WCQ… Rinne doubled up Tomas Vokoun in franchise playoff victories, moving into first the category with six wins in his 12 games played… Cody Franson notched four assists against the Ducks, setting a new series record; Ryan Suter had three, to tie the previous mark... Nashville and Vancouver have never faced each other in the NHL playoffs.
REGULAR SEASON SERIES WRAP-UP
Defenseman Shane O’Brien was acquired along with forward Dan Gendur from Vancouver on Oct. 5 in exchange for Ryan Parent and Jonas Andersson… The teams played all four of their games in the 2011 portion of the schedule, splitting the season series at two games apiece and alternating wins. The Predators are 18-25-6 against the Canucks all time, but 5-5-0 in the last 10 meetings… Nashville outscored Vancouver 8-6 in the four games. Special teams goals were hard to come by, with Nashville going 0-for-14 on the power-play, and Vancouver, the League’s top-ranked power-play (24.3 percent in the regular season), scoring only once against the Predators penalty kill… Erat led Nashville skaters with four points (1g-3a)… Rinne was 2-2-0 against the Canucks this season with a 1.26 goals-against average, .962 save percentage and a 29-save shutout… Spaling and Geoffrion scored the game-winners in the Preds’ victories. For Geoffrion, it was his first career game-winning goal… Kevin Klein and Sergei Kostitsyn were each a team-leading +3… Suter played at least 26 minutes in three of the four games… The Canucks’ win on March 29 snapped a five-game winning streak for Nashville and was one of only two regulation losses in the Predators’ final 12 games of the regular season.
CAREER HIGHS/HIGHLIGHTS ATTAINED INVOLVING THE CANUCKS Martin Erat – Scored the second of his two career hat tricks and notched a career-high four points on Dec. 8, 2009 against Vancouver. Joel Ward – Played his first NHL game on Dec. 16, 2006 against the Canucks (with Minnesota). Shea Weber – Recorded a career-high 10 shots on goal on Feb. 21, 2008 against Vancouver (attained twice).
Steve Sullivan (15g-15a-30pts in 37 gp) and Erat (8g-16a-24pts in 32 gp) lead the Predators in production against the Canucks in their careers… Rinne has an all-time record of 4-4-0 with a 1.89 goals-against average and a shutout against Vancouver. Lindback has never faced the Canucks… O’Brien played two seasons with the Canucks, picking up 18 points (2g-16a) and a +21 rating in 141 games. He also had five points (2g-3a) in 22 playoff games for Vancouver… Jerred Smithson is a native of Vernon, B.C., while Weber and Franson both call Sicamous, B.C., home. Franson and Blum both played their junior careers with the Vancouver Giants (WHL), capturing the Memorial Cup in 2007. Blum finished his career as the Giants’ all-time leader in points by a defenseman… Shea Weber (Canada), Ryan Suter (United States), Patric Hornqvist (Sweden), Marcel Goc (Germany), Martin Erat (Czech Republic), and Sergei Kostitsyn (Belarus) all participated in the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.
WESTERN CONFERENCE QUARTERFINALS WRAP-UP
(5) Nashville Predators def. (4) Anaheim Ducks, 4-2
The series was the first postseason matchup between Nashville and Anaheim… Nashville achieved a number of notable franchise firsts, including the team’s first overtime victory and first series victory… Eighteen of the Predators’ 19 skaters earned at least one point, with 16 earning at least two points. Defensemen factored into 14 of Nashville’s 22 goals… Fisher led the team with six points (3g-3a), one shy of the franchise high for points in a single series. Weber’s three goals and five points were the most by a defenseman in Predators postseason history… Four different Predators scored game-winning goals… Nashville’s 3.67 goals per game were the second highest of the first round (Detroit, 4.50). The Predators outscored Anaheim 15-10 in five-on-five play, the third highest ratio of the playoffs so far (behind Detroit and Washington)… In five of the six games, the Predators outshot the Ducks, recorded at least 30 shots and held Anaheim to fewer than 30 shots. Hornqvist set a franchise mark with 29 shots in the series… Nashville won 54 percent of the face-offs against Anaheim. Legwand, Spaling, Smithson, Geoffrion and Fisher were all above 50 percent on the dots… The Nashville power play went 6-of-27 (22 percent), scoring in five of the six games.