TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. EDMONTON
Nashville and Edmonton face off for the second time this season tonight at Bridgestone Arena, the Oilers’ first trip to the Music City in 2011-12. Since the start of the 2006-07 campaign, Nashville is 16-4-1 against the Oilers, averaging 3.42 goals per game, while allowing 2.61 goals per game.
In their first match up of the season on Oct. 17 at Rexall Place, Sergei Kostitsyn extended his season-opening point streak to five games with his first goal of the season just two minutes into the second frame, but Edmonton responded with a three-goal third period to claim a 3-1 victory. Pekka Rinne made 22-of-24 saves, with the final goal coming into an empty net.
A season ago, Nashville picked up five of a possible eight points (2-1-1 record) in the season series, going 1-1-0 on home ice, and 1-0-1 on the road against the NHL’s northernmost team. At Bridgestone Arena, the Predators fell 4-0 to Edmonton on Feb. 7, but prevailed by a 3-1 margin on March 22. Nashville outshot Edmonton by a 130-92 margin in last season’s four games, including a plus-21 differential in the first period (54-33). Nashville also won the special teams battle, highlighted by an 11-for-12 (91.7 percent) performance on the penalty kill.
Kostitsyn has five points (2g-3a) in six career games vs. the Oilers… Patric Hornqvist has posted eight points (5g-3a) in 10 career games vs. the Oilers… Blake Geoffrion scored his first career goal against the Oilers on March 1, 2011 in Edmonton…Colin Wilson made his NHL debut against Edmonton on Oct. 12, 2009, while Jerred Smithson played his first game as a Predator against the Oil on Nov. 8, 2005… Martin Erat notched his first career hat trick, a natural hat trick, at Rexall Place on March 4, 2008, the second road hat trick in franchise history… David Legwand (10g-20a-31pts, 41gp) and Shea Weber (7g-7a-14pts, 20gp) have seen more offensive success against Edmonton than any other non-divisional opponent… Rinne has won seven of his 11 career decisions against Edmonton (7-3-1).
The defense pairing of Shea Weber and Ryan Suter continues to lead the way for the Predators, as both notched a pair of assists on Saturday to keep hot streaks alive. In Nashville’s last 10 games, Weber (3g-11a-14pts) has posted 11 points (3g-8a), while Suter (4g-9a-13pts) has 10 points (2g-8a). Weber’s two assists on Saturday gives him helpers in three straight, tying a career high.
Nashville’s captain has been on the ice for 34 of Nashville’s 53 goals scored this season, while Suter has been on the ice for 32 –both totals rank among the League’s Top 10. Weber has been on the ice for the last 12 Predator goals scored dating back to Nov. 9 at Anaheim, making him the first player to do so since Anaheim’s Scott Niedermayer was present for 14 straight goals (March 31-April 6, 2010). Suter is close behind, having been on the ice for 10 straight going back to Nashville’s 1,000th regular-season game on Nov. 12 vs. Montreal.
The duo ranks among the League’s top three in plus/minus for the season, as Weber paces all NHLers (+19), and Suter (+15) ranks third. Suter has led the team in ice time in all but seven contests this season, and ranks second in the League in average ice time (27:16). Weber, who has led the team six of the other seven times, ranks sixth (26:33). Both also rank among the Top 15 blueliners in points.
After missing four games due to an upper-body injury, David Legwand posted an assist in his return to the lineup Saturday night. Nashville’s all-time leading scorer is tied for the team lead in points this season (5g-10a-15pts) with rookie Craig Smith, and ranks second on the club in assists. Prior to his injury on Nov. 8, the Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich., native had six points (3g-3a) in four straight games (Oct. 29-Nov.5), giving him two four-game point streaks through 15 games this season.
Legwand is currently in a three-way tie for eighth in all-time points among Michigan-born NHLers with Kelly Miller and Al Iafrate (463) and stands along in eighth place in goals among Michiganders (174). He also leads Nashville forwards in average ice time (19:05), and of his five goals this season, four have been scored in the final 15 minutes of regulation or in overtime.
The Predators look to continue their success on home ice in the final game of their five-game homestand. Nashville has gone 4-0-2 in its last six home games going back to Oct. 27, outscoring the competition 19-11 in that span, including a 12-6 margin in the opening 40 minutes. Since 2005-06, Nashville has been among the League’s top teams, posting 159 wins on home ice. That total is good for third in the League behind Detroit (165) and San Jose (161). The Predators entered 2011-12 with at least 23 home victories in six consecutive seasons, making them the only team to do so.
• Nashville has earned points in 10 of its last 11 games. During that stretch, Nashville has posted a 7-1-3 record (17pts), helping the club climb to fourth in the Western Conference.
• Pekka Rinne is 8-1-3 in his last 12 starts dating back to an Oct. 22 shutout at Calgary, posting a 1.89 goals-against average and a .942 save percentage in that span. His 10 wins on the season are good for second among all goaltenders, and he leads the League in shots against (572), saves (533) and minutes played (1,052:35).
• In their 10 victories this season, the Predators have received game-winning goals from 10 different players.
• The Predators are 10-2-3 when they have scored at least two goals, and are 8-0-2 when holding their opponent to two goals or less.
• In the last 12 games, the Predators are 41-for-47 on the penalty kill (87.2 percent).
• Jonathon Blum ranks among the League’s Top 15 in blocked shots (46).
• With 51 hits on the season, Jerred Smithson ranks among the League’s Top 20 in the category.