TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. ANAHEIM
Tonight in the second game of their season series with Anaheim, the Nashville Predators visit the Honda Center for the first time since Apr. 22, 2011, when Jerred Smithson scored just 1:57 into overtime, giving the Predators the 3-2 series lead in the teams’ 2011 Western Conference Quarterfinal series. Nashville would go onto win Game Six at Bridgestone Arena less than 48 hours later, clinching the first playoff series victory in club history.
In their first match-up of the 2011-12 season, goaltender Pekka Rinne stopped all 20 shots he faced to move into sole possession of first on the franchise’s all-time shutout list with his 22nd, and become the second netminder in club history to hit the century mark in wins. Led by Patric Hornqvist’s seven shots – the highest by a Predator this season – Nashville outshot Anaheim 29-20, the only time this season it has outshot the opposition. It was Hornqvist’s first shot the proved most important, as it gave him his second goal of the season 14 seconds into the tilt, the third-fastest goal in franchise history. Martin Erat found the back of the net in the waning seconds of the first period, and Shea Weber tallied his first goal of the season in the final frame. Both Weber (1g-1a) and defensive partner Ryan Suter (2a) posted multi-point efforts – it was Weber’s first multi-point performance of the season and Suter’s second.
In their last regular season trip to Anaheim on Jan. 5, 2011, Hornqvist and Sergei Kostitsyn each had a goal and an assist, and Pekka Rinne made 40 saves as the Predators won their third straight, beating the Anaheim Ducks, 4-1. The victory added to Nashville’s six-game winning streak from Dec. 31-Jan. 11, 2011, including its second-ever sweep of the NHL’s three California teams. Nashville was outshot 41-24 in the game and led just 2-1 until receiving empty-net goals from Weber and Kostitsyn in the final minute of play.
Hornqvist has posted eight points (4g-4a) in his last five games against the Ducks… Weber has 13 points (5g-8a) in his last 12 games against Anaheim dating back to the 2008-09 season… 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… As a Predator, Kostitsyn has four points (3g-1a) in just a pair of games against the Ducks… Nick Spaling has three points (1g-2a) in four career regular season outings against Anaheim.
HORNQVIST TIES FRANCHISE RECORD
At 18:39 of the third period during Tuesday’s game at Los Angeles, Patric Hornqvist found the back of the net for the sixth consecutive outing, tying the franchise record set by J-P Dumont from Dec. 29-Jan. 8, 2008 (6g) and tied by Alexander Radulov from Jan. 21-Feb. 2, 2008 (7g). Hornqvist has amassed seven goals and an assist during the stretch, tying him for 14th in the NHL in goals. This after being held scoreless in his first seven games of 2011-12 (he missed one game on Oct. 13 due to injury).
ON THE ROAD AND BACK-TO-BACKS
Despite falling to Los Angeles last night, the Predators have amassed 11 points on the road this season (5-3-1 record), the third most in the NHL. This includes a 3-1-1 mark and a 16-12 goal advantage in their last five games away from Nashville.
This is also the tail-end of Nashville’s second back-to-back after opening the season with two wins in two nights at Columbus and St. Louis. The Predators play 12 sets of back-to-back games in 2011-12, their lowest total in four seasons. A season ago, they were 9-4-0 on the front end and 6-6-1 on the back end of two games in two nights.
• The Predators are 4-1-1 since Oct. 27 and 7-5-2 overall (16pts). A season ago, when Nashville advanced to the playoffs for the sixth time in the past seven seasons, it was 6-5-3 (15pts.) through 14 games.
• Pekka Rinne is expected to be back in net tonight after his first game off in 2011-12 on Tuesday. He was the only goaltender to start each of his team’s first 12 games up to that point, which was also the most consecutive starts to being a season in franchise history. The Kempele, Finland native is tied for third in the NHL wins (7), and second in both shots face (406) and saves (377). He’s played the third-most minutes of all goaltenders (747:21).
THE PREDATORS ANNUAL CMA TRIP
Since 2006, it has been a staple of the Nashville Predators schedule – the annual extended road trip in early November to accommodate the Country Music Association Awards, being held this year on Nov. 9. The CMA essentially takes over every square inch of the event level to prepare for the show, this year starting their extravagant lighting and set load-in on Oct. 23, 18 days before the actual show and with three Predators home games still in the venue before they take full control.
On their first two CMA trips, the Predators went a combined 7-1-1, sweeping Western Canada and defeating Minnesota in 2006, then going 3-1-1 on a 2007 trip that started on the Canadian Prairie (Calgary) and ended in Detroit. The 2008 trip started roughly with losses at Vancouver, Calgary and Colorado, but ended with the team’s first-ever sweep of California, highlighted by Dan Ellis’ franchise-record 54 saves in a 4-3 win at San Jose on Nov. 11. In each of the past two seasons, Nashville has ended the trip on a winning note in St. Louis, topping the Blues on Nov. 12, 2009 by a 3-1 score, and on Nov. 11, 2010, 3-2 in a shootout.
COUNTDOWN TO NASHVILLE’S 1,000TH GAME The 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. November 10, 1999: Rob Valicevic posts first hat trick in franchise history
In a routine early-season division game at the United Center in Chicago, one of the most unlikely Predators made history by notching the franchise’s first hat trick. In just an 11:12 span in the opening period, Rob Valicevic turned the trick by beating Blackhawk starter Jocelyn Thibault first, then his backup Steve Passmore two more times.
“To this day it is still surreal,” Valicevic said when reflecting on the game. “It happened so fast, that oddly enough, it still hasn’t sunk in. In a matter of three shifts there were three goals. I was playing with Greg Johnson and Ville Peltonen at the time, and I can still see that third goal going in. It was quite an honor to be a part of the whole history-making process.”
The trio of goals in just more than 11 minutes served as the fastest three markers by an individual for more than seven seasons until Steve Sullivan scored three in 5:56 in December 2006 against Ottawa. In that span, nine other Predator hat tricks were tallied.
“I guess the highlight of my career there was the hat trick in Chicago,” Valicevic said. “To this day I still can’t believe it happened.”