TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. ANAHEIM
The Nashville Predators and Anaheim Ducks take to the same sheet of ice for the first time since April 24, 2011 tonight at Bridgestone Arena, the day Nashville clinched its first ever playoff series victory with a 4-2 win. Over the course of the six-game Western Conference Quarterfinals, the Predators notched several firsts, including the franchise’s first overtime victory (Game Five). Jerred Smithson was the unlikely hero in the OT win, scoring just 1:57 into the extra session, but his line – which also included Nick Spaling and Jordin Tootoo – would combine for two more goals in Game Six. Spaling followed up a two-assist night in Game Five with the Preds first goal and series-clinching goal Game Six, while Tootoo posted his second straight two-assist performance in the series. All told, 18 of 19 skaters where in on at least one of Nashville’s 22 goals, six of which came on the power play (6-for-27, 22.2 percent). Mike Fisher led the offensive charge with six points (3g-3a), and Shea Weber set a club mark for points by a defenseman in a postseason series with five (3g-2a).
Shifting to regular season history, the Predators have seen more success against the Ducks in the past three seasons than any other period. Nashville took three of four games a season ago and is 7-3-2 vs. Anaheim over the past three seasons. This includes a 4-1-1 mark on home ice, highlighted by a two-game sweep in 2010-11. On Opening Night one year ago, the Preds put a season-high 49 shots on net and topped the Ducks, 4-1. In the most recent matchup on March 24, 2011, the Predators scored three goals in the first 12 minutes of play to chase Jonas Hiller from the Anaheim net, and were up 5-1 midway through the third period, before the Ducks rallied to make a game of it behind two man-advantage markers by Teemu Selanne and an extra-attacker goal by Corey Perry. Nashville would hang on to win 5-4. The Predators outscored the Ducks by an 11-4 margin in the opening 40 minutes a season ago, despite being outshot 87-96. Anaheim held the third-period edge, 7-6 in the goal category and 57-38 in shots.
Patric Hornqvist led all Preds in scoring against Anaheim a season ago, posting seven points (3g-4a) in four games. He followed up a goal on opening night with three two-point efforts, and has nine points (5g-4a) in 11 career games vs. the Ducks… Weber has 11 points (4g-7a) in his last 13 games against Anaheim dating back to Nov. 14, 2008… Weber and Hornqvist have both had 10 shots on goal in a game against Anaheim – Weber on Jan. 2, 2010 and Hornqvist on Nov. 5, 2010… Sergei Kostitsyn notched four points (3g-1a) in just a pair of games against the Ducks in 2010-11… Spaling had three points (1g-2a) in three outings against Anaheim a season ago, while Cal O’Reilly notched two points (1g-1a) in two games and now has three points (1g-2a) in three games against it for his career.
NOTABLE CAREER HIGHS/MILESTONES ATTAINED VS. ANAHEIM Martin Erat – Career-high eight penalty minutes on Jan. 17, 2008. Patric Hornqvist – Career-high 10 shots on goal on Nov. 5, 2009. Kevin Klein – Most recent of four career two-assist performances on March 24, 2011. Anders Lindback – Made his NHL debut on Oct. 9, 2010. Ryan Suter – Career-high three assists on March 18, 2009. Jordin Tootoo – Made his NHL debut on Oct. 9, 2003. Shea Weber – Career-high 15 PIMs on Feb. 3, 2007. Most recent of two career 10-shot games on Jan. 2, 2010.
SMITH-FISHER-KOSTITSYN LINE KICK-STARTS OFFENSE
After connecting for Nashville’s lone goal in their first game together on Tuesday, the line of Craig Smith, Mike Fisher and Sergei Kostitsyn teamed up for three of Nashville’s season-high five goals in Thursday’s victory. In just his second game of 2011-12 after offseason shoulder surgery, Fisher tied a career high with three points (2g-1a), played 20:24 to lead all Predator forwards, and put a team-high four shots on goal. The Peterborough, Ont., native now has four points (2g-2a) in two games. Both Smith (2a) and Kostitsyn (1g-1a) also posted multiple-point efforts, moving them into a tie with David Legwand for first on the team in points with eight. For Smith, his three goals tied him for first on the team with Kostitsyn and tied him for third among NHL rookies, while his eight points are tied for second among first-year NHLers. The Madison, Wis., native has points in three straight games (1g-3a). Kostitsyn has compiled his eight points (3g-5a) by reaching the scoresheet in seven of Nashville’s nine games.
RINNE NOW ONE FROM 100
Nashville goaltender and 2011 Vezina Trophy runner-up Pekka Rinne has started all nine of Nashville’s games this season, setting a franchise record for most starts at the beginning of a campaign. He’s racked up four wins in that span, giving him 99 career victories. Rinne entered this weekend’s games as one of just five goalies to have played more than 500 minutes thus far in 2011-12 (502:19), and he’s faced the most shots (278) and made the most saves (257) in the process.
• Kostitsyn led the NHL in shooting percentage last season (24.7), and has scored his three goals this season on just 10 shots (30 percent). Last season, however, he didn’t put his 10th shot on goal until Game No. 22 of the season on Nov. 27 vs. the New York Rangers. Fisher is currently tied for the League lead in the category among players with multiple goals, scoring his pair on just four shots (50 percent).
• Ryan Suter has led the team in ice time in all nine games this season, and is one of just three players (along with NYR’s Dan Girardi and FLA’s Brian Campbell) to be averaging more than 27 minutes a game (27:18). Shea Weber is also among the League’s Top 10 in the category (26:03).
• Matt Halischuk has points in three of the last four games (1g-2a).
• Blum is tied for second in the NHL in blocked shots (30), while defensive partner Kevin Klein is tied for 12th (22).
The Nashville Predators look to continue their success on home ice in 2011-12 after finishing last season with a 24-9-8 record (56 points) at Bridgestone Arena, making them one of just three teams (Conference-winners Vancouver and Washington) to amass more than 55 points and have less than 10 regulation losses on home ice. 2010-11 marked the sixth consecutive season Nashville posted at least 23 home victories, making it the only franchise to do so. Since the start of the 2005-06 campaign, the Predators have posted a 156-68-25 record at Bridgestone Arena, good for the third-most home wins (tied with New Jersey) in the League behind Detroit (161) and San Jose (157).
COUNTDOWN TO NASHVILLE’S 1,000TH GAME The Nashville Predators will celebrate their 1,000th NHL regular season game on Saturday, November 12 vs. Montreal. Leading up to this game – and all season long – we will look back on some of the most memorable moments in Predators history to date. October 30, 2003: Fight night at Bridgestone
In their first meeting of the 2003-04 season, Central Division rivals Nashville and Detroit were poised to send a message to the other. After eight goals and 210 penalty minutes – a Nashville franchise record for combined penalty minutes – the Predators came out victorious, 5-3.
Detroit’s Darren McCarty and Nashville’s Jeremy Stevenson danced just 23 seconds into the match, and the last scrap didn’t come until 32 ticks before the final buzzer. In that span, 46 penalties were handed out, included 18 fighting majors and eight 10-minute misconducts.
The night was a memorable one for Nashville’s Adam Hall, who tangled with future Hall-of-Famers Chris Chelios and Brendan Shanahan in the third period. Hard-nosed agitators Kirk Maltby (Detroit) and Scott Walker (Nashville) posted two more chapters in their rivalry, while McCarty and Nashville’s Jamie Allison provided the night’s finale.
Meanwhile, on the real score card, Greg Johnson paced the victorious home team with a pair of goals in the second period, while David Legwand tallied the game-winner at 14:35 of the third.
REMEMBERING WADE BELAK
The Nashville Predators are honoring former teammate and club employee Wade Belak – who died tragically on August 31 – in several ways throughout the 2011-12. There are two logos being used to remember Belak – a No. 3 logo which is in the bottom left of each players’ helmet – and an internal logo which can be found on the wall of the Predators dressing room and on team apparel. The team also has a firefighter helmet which goes to the player of the game after a win, as selected by the previous player who had it. Belak was a member of the Williamson County (Nashville suburbs) Fire and Rescue Squad.
PREDATORS ENTER THE GOLDEN AGE
Through an exploration of their existing colors, the Predators set out to create a distinctive home look designed to introduce a redefined identity and tradition. This vision was seen first during the 2011 playoffs as fans wore gold shirts and waved gold towels, truly creating a home ice advantage and a visual identity for the team and Bridgestone Arena.
On July 13, 2011, “PREDATORS GOLD” was born through the introduction of the new gold home jerseys. The goal was to develop a powerful long-term brand message by creating a dominant color scheme, one that when seen on the ice, in-arena, on television or on the streets, would immediately identify the Predators, its fans and the environment at Bridgestone Arena.