TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. ST. LOUIS
The Predators and Blues square off for the second game of their season series tonight at Bridgestone Arena. Close battles have been a trend between these two Central Division rivals with 14 of the last 22 meetings decided by one goal. Nashville is 20-11-7 all-time on home ice vs. the Blues, and holds a 30-9-4 overall record in that span. The series has required a franchise-high 20 overtime periods to decide a winner. The Predators are 10-6-4 in those games, with all 10 wins coming since the 2005-06 season. Additionally, nine of those 20 games have gone to a shootout, tying Nashville and St. Louis for the League lead during that span. Nashville has a 6-3 record in shootouts against St. Louis.
Their first matchup of the 2011-12 season was Nashville’s second in as many nights, and St. Louis’ home opener. Rookie Craig Smith posted his first-career multiple point game (1g-2a) after scoring his first-career goal the night prior in Columbus. Kevin Klein notched his first-career game winner at 13:14 of the final frame. David Legwand pocketed two goals on the night, including an empty-netter which sealed the deal for the Predators. Pekka Rinne turned away 31 shots, spoiling the home-opener for the Blues, 4-2.
The Predators and Blues closed out their 2010-11 season series in the final regular season game for both squads on April 9. It was a low-scoring affair, as St. Louis claimed a 2-0 victory, the night after the Preds had clinched their sixth postseason berth in the past seven campaigns. Nashville fell to St. Louis by the same score the day after Christmas at Scottrade Center. Nashville’s two victories in the series came on Nov. 11, 2010, as Marcel Goc netted the shootout winner in St. Louis, giving the Predators a 3-2 win, and on Oct. 14, 2010, when Nashville scored three goals in the opening frame, saw the Blues battled back, with Patric Hornqvist eventually notching the game winner in the waning minutes of the second-period, giving Nashville the 4-3 victory.
Hornqvist has nine points (4g-5a) in 13 career games against the Blues. He made his NHL debut against the Blues on Oct. 10, 2008, and notched a career-high three assists in a 3-2 victory at Scottrade Center on April 1, 2010… Jordin Tootoo has seen more offensive success against the Blues than any other NHL team. He has 13 points (6g-7a) in 34 career games against St. Louis – he has no more than three goals against any other club. Tootoo also has racked up 89 career penalty minutes against the Blues – the second-most for a single player against a team in franchise history.
On Thursday night, the Predators overcame a two-goal deficit for the third time this month, and the fourth time this season, rallying from a 3-1 deficit late in the second period to defeat the Detroit Red Wings by a 4-3 score. Nashville overcame just three two-goal deficits all of last season.
The first comeback occurred on Nov. 5, as San Jose held a 3-1 lead in the final frame, before Patric Hornqvist and Ryan Suter reeled off two goals just three minutes apart to force overtime. In the extra frame, David Legwand scored his second goal of the game to give the Predators their first come-from-behind win of the season.
The Predators opened December with a come-from-behind thriller in Vancouver. Nashville led 3-1 after the first, but the Canucks responded with a four-goal second period to lead 5-3 midway through the second. Jordin Tootoo and Colin Wilson both scored to pull the Predators even after 40 minutes. Mike Fisher pocketed the game winner with less than two minutes remaining in the contest.
Against Columbus on Dec. 8, the Predators overcame two-goal deficits twice, the last coming when they scored two extra-attacker goals in the final 1:36 of regulation to force overtime. Wilson notched the game winner just 1:45 into the extra frame to give the Predators their second comeback victory in four games.
Shea Weber was the catalyst for the Predators against Detroit on Thursday, as he tallied the game-tying and game-winning goals in the final 4:24 after Tootoo had made it a one-goal game at 17:22 of the second period.
In Nashville’s last seven games, it has received 11 goals from nine different skaters in the third period. This season, Nashville has scored 12 goals in the final 90 seconds of play, including three extra-attacker goals, and three game-winning goals.
Captain Shea Weber notched his seventh-career two-goal game, and first since Oct. 22, 2009 against Ottawa, after scoring the final two goals against Detroit on Thursday night. His two goals were the second time this season a Predator has had two goals in a period and the seventh time a player has had two goals in a game. The first goal moved him past Jason Arnott and into second on the franchise’s all-time power-play goals list (41), and the second tally tied him with Steve Sullivan for sixth on the Predators all-time game-winning goals list (16). In Nashville’s last 16 games, Weber has 15 points (7g-8a), moving him into second among NHL defensemen in goals (8), tied for first in power-play goals (5) and third in points (23). He also ranks among the League’s top three blueliners in plus/minus rating (+14) and shots (97). His 86 goals since the start of the 2006-07 season are the most by an NHL d-man.
Five of his eight goals this season have come in the final 20 minutes of play, and Nashville is now 5-1-1 when its captain scores. The Sicamous, B.C., native has been on the ice for more than 60 percent of Nashville’s goals this season. He was present for every Nashville goal in 13 straight games (Nov. 9-22), and has been on the ice for 50-of-83 goals in 2011-12.
In Nashville’s last 13 games, the power play has been among the League’s best, converting 32.5 percent (14-for-43) of its man-advantage chances. Since scoring a pair of man-advantage markers on Nov. 19 against Columbus, 14 of Nashville’s last 33 goals have come via the power play; they were a perfect one-for-one on Thursday vs. Detroit. Weber (5g-6a) and his defensive partner, Ryan Suter (3g-8a), lead the team with 11 points on the power play. David Legwand (2g-8a) and rookie Craig Smith (4g-6a) are just one point behind with 10 points on the man-advantage.
Nashville has the League’s third-best power-play success rate (21.5 percent). The team has been consistent both at home and on the road, scoring nine man-advantage goals in their last seven games. The Predators have scored a power-play goal in seven straight games at Bridgestone Arena, and have posted 11 goals on 51 chances (21.6 percent) on home ice, while scoring 12 goals on 56 man-advantage opportunities (21.4 percent) on the road.
• The Predators have played in nine straight one-goal games – they are 6-3-0 in those contests.
• Nashville is 4-1-2 against the Central Division this season.
• The Predators are 13-1-2 when scoring two goals or more.
• Ryan Suter has 13 points (2g-11a) in his last 16 games.
• Colin Wilson has seven points (3g-4a) in his last seven games.
• David Legwand has six points (3g-3a) in the Predators’ last seven games.
• Pekka Rinne’s 14 wins this season tie him for third in the League. He paces the League in saves (784), and ranks second among goalies in shots against (851) and minutes played (1,581:20).
• In their 16 victories this season, the Predators have received game-winning goals from 13 different players. Colin Wilson (3) and Nick Spaling (2) are the only players with multiple game-winning goals.