TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. DETROIT
The Predators welcome the Detroit Red Wings to Bridgestone Arena tonight for their first matchup in the Music City this season. A season ago, the Predators claimed the season series 4-2-0; they lost the first contest on Oct. 30, 2010 then reeled off four straight victories – just the second time they’ve ever done it against Detroit – before dropping the last game of the season series on Apr. 2, 2011. Nashville has never won five straight against the Wings, and only once (April 18, 2006-Feb. 24, 2007) has it claimed three straight on home ice. Since the start of the 2008-09 campaign, Nashville has picked up at least a point in eight of nine home games against Detroit (5-1-3) while outscoring the Wings 28-17 in those nine games.
These teams opened their 2011-12 season series on Nov. 26 in the Motor City. Valtteri Filppula scored twice, and Henrik Zetterberg and Dan Cleary added markers in a 4-1 victory for the Wings. Jack Hillen responded with his first goal in a Predators sweater at 5:34 of the third period. Pekka Rinne made 33 saves for Nashville in its second game of a five game road swing. Roman Josi made his NHL debut for the Predators after being called up from Milwaukee the day prior.
In the Red Wings’ last trip to Bridgestone on April 2, 2011, the Predators received a power-play goal and an assist from Ryan Suter, goals from both Sergei Kostitsyn and Martin Erat, and a pair of assists from Mike Fisher, but fell in overtime. Kostitsyn became Nashville's first 20-goal scorer of season and extended his point streak (4g-7a) to a career-best nine straight games. The clubs met just 14 days prior on March 19 in the Music City; the Predators gave up the first goal of the game with just 22 seconds left in the first period, but rallied to tie it on Blake Geoffrion’s first career home goal in the second, then win it on fellow rookie Jonathon Blum’s first-ever game-winning goal, on the power play, at 8:42 of the third.
Rinne has gone 8-3-3 in his career against the Wings with a 2.25 goals-against average and three shutouts … Kostitsyn has eight points (5g-3a) in his last seven games against the Red Wings. His two-point performance (1g-1a) on Feb. 9, 2011 put him over the century mark in points for his career… Suter has six points (1g-5a) in his last five games against Detroit. Suter’s defensive partner, Shea Weber, notched his 200th career point with an assist vs. Detroit on Feb. 9, 2010.
Nashville fired a season-high 45 shots on goal against Calgary on Tuesday, the club’s highest shots total since Dec. 28, 2010, when it put up 46 shots against Dallas. Seventeen of 18 players registered at least one shot on goal, while 10 of those players had multiple shots.
The Predators put 18 shots on Miikka Kiprusoff in the first frame, tying a season high. Nashville and Calgary also combined for a season-high 81 shots on goal, including 34 combined shots (NSH 17, CGY 17) in the second period – tied for the second highest single-period shot total in franchise history behind only 35 combined shots between the Predators and Red Wings in the first period on Feb. 10, 2009 (DET 27, NSH 8).
Rookie Craig Smith continues to pace the Predators in points this season after posting the primary assist on Colin Wilson’s game-winning power-play goal on Tuesday night. Smith fired a career-high seven shots on goal Tuesday, which tied him with Patric Hornqvist (twice) for most shots by a Predator this season. His 84 total shots this season rank second on the team, just 10 shots behind Shea Weber.
The Madison, Wis., native has posted six points (1g-5a) in Nashville’s last six games, including his third three-point game on Dec. 1 against Vancouver. That performance gives him one-third of the nine total three-plus-point performances by first-year players in franchise history.
Smith’s 23 points (8g-15a) on the season not only pace the Predators, but tie him with Adam Henrique of the New Jersey Devils for second among all NHL rookies. His four power-play goals in 2011-12 lead all rookies and he ranks second in shots (84) behind only Colorado’s Gabriel Landeskog.
SPECIAL TEAMS PLAY
In Nashville’s last 12 games, the power play has been among the League’s best, converting 30.9 percent (13-for-42) of its man-advantage chances. Since scoring a pair of man-advantage markers on Nov. 19 against Columbus, 13 of Nashville’s last 29 goals have come via the power play. Colin Wilson’s game-winning power-play goal on Tuesday night tied him with Craig Smith and Shea Weber for the team lead with four man-advantage goals on the season. Four players have posted at least 10 points on the power play: Smith (4g-6a), Weber (4g-6a), Ryan Suter (3g-7a) and David Legwand (2g-8a).
Nashville is tied with Colorado for the League’s third-best power-play success rate (20.8 percent). The team has been consistent both at home and on the road, scoring eight man-advantage goals in their last six home games and their last six road games. The Predators have scored a power-play goal in six straight games at Bridgestone Arena, and have posted 10 goals on 50 chances (20 percent) on home ice, while scoring 12 goals on 56 man-advantage opportunities (21.4 percent) on the road.
Nashville’s penalty kill has also been solid of late. After allowing seven power-play goals in five games from Nov. 17-26, the PK has been perfect in seven of eight games – killing 15 of 17 shorthanded chances. The Predators’ man-down unit has been perfect in five straight games dating back to Dec. 3 vs. Buffalo. Nashville’s penalty kill has climbed to 11th in League (84.3 percent).
• The Predators have played in eight straight one-goal games – they are 5-3-0 in those contests.
• Nashville is 3-1-2 against the Central Division this season.
• Shea Weber has posted 13 points (5g-8a) in Nashville’s last 15 games. Weber’s defensive partner, Ryan Suter has 12 points (2g-10a) in his last 15 games.
• Colin Wilson has seven points (3g-4a) in his last six games, including two game-winning goals.
• David Legwand has five points (2g-3a) in the Predators’ last six games.
• Jordin Tootoo has eight points (4g-4a) in his last nine games.
• Mike Fisher has won nearly 60 percent (80 of 129) of his face-offs in the last seven games.
• The Predators are 11-1-2 when holding their opponent to two goals or less.
• Pekka Rinne’s 13 wins this season tie him for fifth in the League. He paces the League in saves (747), and ranks second among goalies in shots against (811) and minutes played (1,521:20).
• In their 15 victories this season, the Predators have received game-winning goals from 12 different players. Colin Wilson (3) and Nick Spaling (2) are the only players with multiple game-winning goals.