TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. MONTREAL
The Montreal Canadiens visit Bridgestone Arena for the just the seventh time ever tonight, the one and only meeting between the Predators and Habs this season. Nashville is an even 5-5-3 in 13 all-time games against Montreal, but has only lost to the League’s oldest team once on home ice – March 10, 2003 (3-1 Montreal win). Nashville has won each of the last clashes of these two teams – Nov. 18, 2010 at the Bell Centre (3-0) and Nov. 14, 2009 in the Music City (2-0). Pekka Rinne stopped a combined 65 shots to record the shutout on both occasions, and has a 1.01 goals against average and .957 save percentage in three games against Montreal.
The last time Montreal visited Bridgestone Arena two seasons ago, the Predators also set franchise records for shots on goal (55) and shot advantage (35). In the most recent meeting a season ago, Marcel Goc scored twice and both former Hab Francis Bouillon and Kevin Klein posted two assists in the victory.
Bouillon spent nearly his entire professional career with the Canadiens organization prior the 2008-09 campaign, playing played 481 of his first 485 NHL games with the Habs. The New York, N.Y., native who grew up in Montreal amassed 102 points (21g-81a) and 371 penalty minutes from 1999-2009, and also pitched in six points (2g-4a) in 25 playoff contests with the Habs… Sergei Kostitsyn was selected 200th overall by Montreal in the 2005 Entry Draft. In three seasons, the Novopolotsk, Belarus native put up 68 points (24g-44a) in 155 NHL contests, and 49 points (15g-34a) in 55 AHL games with Montreal’s affiliate in Hamilton.
SMITH RISES TO TOP OF ROOKIE SCORING RACE
Nashville Predators rookie forward Craig Smith was shifted from wing to center following an injury in to David Legwand in the first period of Tuesday’s game at Los Angeles, but had no trouble adapting – he scored twice and added an assist in Wednesday’s 4-2 victory at Anaheim. It was Smith’s first career two-goal game, and his second career three-point performance; he had a goal and two assists in his second NHL game on Oct. 8 at St. Louis. Prior to Smith doing it twice in his first 14 career games, Nashville rookies had just six three-point performances all-time. The Madison, Wis., native has 10 points (5g-5a) in his last nine games to not only move into a tie with Legwand for the team points lead (7g-7a-14pts) and a tie with Patric Hornqvist for the team lead in goals, but he leads all NHL rookies in points and power-play goals (3), and is tied for first in goals and assists.
NO GOAL, BUT HORNQVIST’S POINT STREAK LIVES ON
For about and 90 minutes during Wednesday’s game, Patric Hornqvist set a franchise record for goals in consecutive games. A scoring change would end the streak and give Colin Wilson his third goal of the season, but Hornqvist would tie a career high with three assists/points in the win, giving him points (7g-4a-11pts) in seven straight games. Though his goal-scoring streak ended at six games, it is the longest in the NHL this season. His seven-game point streak is tied for the longest by an NHLer in 2011-12.
ERAT NOTCHES THE CLUB’S FIRST PENALTY SHOT GOAL IN THREE YEARS Martin Erat was awarded the 23rd penalty shot in franchise history – and the 11th in the NHL this season – and converted, giving the Predators their seventh penalty shot goal and first since Vernon Fiddler on Nov. 6, 2008 at Calgary. Both of those goals were scored while shorthanded. It was also the Predators first road shorthanded goal since the last time they were in Anaheim – Shea Weber scored while a man down in Nashville’s win at the Honda Center on Jan. 5, 2011. Nashville’s first-ever penalty shot attempt came against tonight’s opponent, the Montreal Canadiens, when Kimmo Timonen beat Jeff Hackett in a 6-1 victory on Nov. 18, 1999 at Bridgestone Arena.
A SOLID ROAD TRIP
Nashville finished out its annual CMA road trip with a 3-1-1 record, improving to 6-3-1 (13pts) on the road this season. That’s tied with Colorado for the most road points in the NHL entering the weekend. After falling in overtime at Chicago on Halloween, the Predators shut out Phoenix last Thursday by a 3-0 score, then rallied from a two-goal deficit to top San Jose 4-3 last Saturday. After a 4-3 setback at Los Angeles on Tuesday, the Preds rebounded with a 4-2 victory at Anaheim on Wednesday. In their last six road games dating back to Oct. 22 at Calgary, the Predators have allowed just 14 goals (2.33 per game) while scoring 20 (3.33 per game). Craig Smith has 11 (6g-5a) of his 14 (7g-7a) points in 10 road games, while Colin Wilson leads the League in road plus/minus at +10
• The Predators are 5-1-1 since Oct. 27 and 8-5-2 overall (18pts). A season ago, when Nashville advanced to the playoffs for the sixth time in the past seven seasons, it was 7-5-3 (17pts) through 15 games.
• Martin Erat has points (2g-3a) in five of six games since returning from injury on Oct. 29 vs. Anaheim. He became Nashville’s eighth different player to score a game winner on Wednesday.
• Ryan Suter ranks second in the League in average ice time (27:43) while defensive partner Shea Weber ranks sixth (26:51). Both have a goal and four assists in their last six games.
• Weber is tied for fourth in the League in plus/minus rating (+10) and ranks sixth among defensemen in shots (45).
• Jonathon Blum ranks among the League’s top five in blocked shots (41).