TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. WASHINGTON
The Predators make their only trip of the 2011-12 season to our nation’s capital tonight. It marks just the eighth trip in franchise history to Washington D.C., Nashville is 2-3-2 all-time in Washington’s barn. These teams have met five times since the start of the 2008-09 season, with the Capitals winning four of the five games in either overtime or a shootout.
In their first meeting of the year on Nov. 15, the game was scoreless through the first 55 minutes until Troy Brouwer scored at 15:14 of the third. Nashville responded just 28 seconds later, as Martin Erat tapped in a rebound to tie the game. Colin Wilson and Shea Weber then combined for the franchise’s fastest two goals, as Wilson scored with just 24 seconds remaining and Weber added an empty-netter just five seconds later to secure the Predators 3-1 victory. Pekka Rinne made 39 saves in the duel between the top two goalies in Predators history – he and Tomas Vokoun.
Prior to their victory on Nov. 15, Nashville’s last win in the series came by a 5-2 score on Dec. 7, 2005 in D.C. in a wild affair that included four power-play goals, an unsuccessful shorthanded penalty shot by Steve Sullivan, and a man-down marker by Scott Hartnell.
Mike Fisher notched the lone hat trick of his career against Washington on Dec. 29, 2007 as a member of the Ottawa Senators… Matt Halischuk scored his first NHL goal on Washington’s Jose Theodore on Nov. 14, 2009 as a member of the New Jersey Devils… Sergei Kostitsyn scored his first NHL goal against Washington on Dec. 20, 2007 and tallied a career-high three assists against the club on Feb. 10, 2010. The Novopolotsk, Belarus native has nine points (4g-5a) in 11 career games against the Capitals… Francis Bouillon played his first game as a Predator against the Capitals on Oct. 10, 2002. He spent just three weeks with the team before being claimed on waivers by Montreal, then started his second stint in Nashville at the start of the 2009-10 season… Patric Hornqvist has two assists in four career games against Washington… Martin Erat has eight points (1g-7a) in nine games against the Caps.
Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile began his career as a general manager with Washington after being named GM of the Capitals in 1982. He spent 15 seasons in D.C., compiling a 596-454-124 (.559) record, which ranked him among the NHL's top five during that span. For the 1982-83 season, Poile took the reins of a Washington team that had never made the Stanley Cup Playoffs. During his tenure, the Capitals advanced to the postseason 14 times. The 1997-98 Capitals, largely comprised of players Poile acquired, advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals. After joining the Predators in 1997, he now holds the distinction as the only GM to spend 1,000 games with two separate franchises, and is one of just five GMs (Jack Adams, Glen Sather, Conn Smythe and Art Ross) to be at a team’s helm for 30 consecutive years. Poile is third all-time in wins and games as a GM.
Nashville is in the midst of a five-game win streak – the NHL’s longest active winning streak – after defeating St. Louis in a shootout on Saturday night. Four of the five wins came during the Predators recent four game home stand, pushing the Predators from 11th to seventh in the Western Conference. The Predators have outscored their opponents 14-10 during the streak despite being outshot 157-136. Eleven different players have scored for the Predators during the streak, with Shea Weber, Jordin Tootoo and Colin Wilson notching two goals each. Martin Erat leads all Predators in points (1g-5a) during the five gamer.
In Nashville’s last 14 games, the power play has been among the League’s best, converting 31.8 percent (14-for-44) of its man-advantage chances. Since scoring a pair of man-advantage markers on Nov. 19 against Columbus, 14 of Nashville’s last 32 regulation goals have come via the power play; they were a perfect one-for-one on Thursday vs. Detroit. Shea 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 fifth-best power-play success rate (21.3 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 52 chances (21.2 percent*) on home ice, while scoring 12 goals on 56 man-advantage opportunities (21.4 percent) on the road. * Nashville had 00:00 of power-play time against St. Louis on Saturday night, but finished 0-1 according the scoresheete, with the only penalty assessed to the Blues coming at 5:00 mark of overtime.
RINNE NAMED NHL’S SECOND STAR OF THE WEEK Pekka Rinne was named the NHL’s Second Star of the Week on Monday after going 3-0-0 with a .957 save percentage for the Predators from Dec. 12-18. The 2011 Vezina Trophy finalist made at least 35 saves in each start, beginning with 35 in a 2-1 victory over Calgary on Dec. 13. He turned aside 37 shots in Nashville’s come-from-behind victory over Detroit last Thursday, then matched his season high with 39 saves and three shootout stops in a 2-1 victory against St. Louis on Saturday.
With his current five-game winning streak, Rinne has improved to 15-9-4 with a 2.42 goals-against average, .921 save percentage and three shutouts in 2011-12. He leads all NHL goaltenders in appearances (29), shots faced (891) and saves (823).
Head Coach Barry Trotz will coach his 1,017th game on Tuesday, and is one of only four coaches with more than 1,000 games coached with a single team. He is currently third behind only Al Arbour (1,500, NYI) and Lindy Ruff (1,093, BUF) after he passed Chicago’s Billy Reay (1,012) earlier this month. Trotz has racked up 472 wins through 1,016 games and recently passed Edmonton’s Glen Sather for fifth on the games won with a single team list. The Dauphin, Man., native ranks 19th in all-time coaching wins, and became just the 20th person to join the 1,000 games coached club on Nov. 12 vs. Montreal.
Trotz spent five seasons (1992-97) as the head coach of the Capitals' American Hockey League affiliate Baltimore Skipjacks and Portland Pirates. He was named head coach of the Skipjacks in 1992 after one season as an assistant coach. Following the franchise’s relocation to Portland, Maine, he led the Pirates to two Calder Cup Finals appearances over the team’s first four seasons. In 1995, Trotz coached Portland to a Calder Cup Championship and a league-best 43-27-10 record and was named the AHL’s Coach of the Year. In 2006, he was inducted into the Pirates’ Hall of Fame.
• Nashville is one of only six teams to post at least 40 victories in every season since 2005-06. Detroit, San Jose, Vancouver, New Jersey and Buffalo are the others. The Predators have 289 wins in that span.
• The Predators are on their annual Father’s Trip. Last season, the Preds’ dads traveled to Philadelphia with their sons. From 2007-09, they went on two-game trips to various Western Conference destinations.
• The Predators have played in 10 straight one-goal games – they are 7-3-0 in those contests.
• This season, the Predators are 3-1-2 against the Eastern Conference, including 2-0-0 against the Southeast Division.
• The Predators are 14-1-2 when scoring two goals or more.
• In Nashville’s last 17 games, Shea Weber has 16 points (7g-9a), moving him into second among NHL defensemen in goals (8), tied for second in power-play goals (5) and third in points (24).
• Ryan Suter has 13 points (2g-11a) in his last 17 games.
• Colin Wilson has seven points (3g-4a) in his last eight games.
• In their 17 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.
CHRISTMAS TIME OUTREACH
Each season, the Nashville Predators take time away from their hectic playing schedules to reach out to community members in need. From toy drives and hospital visits, to youth hockey clinics and holiday shopping for those in need, the Nashville Predators spend as much time giving back to the community as they do on the ice. Recently, groups of players were out in the community, spreading holiday cheer: Preds defenseman Ryan Suter participated in several youth hockey clinics, captain Shea Weber hosts families in need in his Weber’s Warrior suite and signs autographs for them after games, goaltender Anders Lindback and forward Craig Smith helped children win Thanksgiving dinner for their families and went Christmas shopping with kids from Franktown Open Hearts, forward Jordin Tootoo held a Salvation Army Toy Drive that brought thousands of presents to under-privileged Middle Tennessee families and several players made a special holiday stop at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt to sign autographs, greet patients and pass out Nashville Predators toys.
The Nashville Predators continue to spread holiday cheer in the coming weeks as they host their annual Christmas party on Wednesday, Dec. 21 for charities that partner with the Nashville Predators Foundation, food and space will be generously donated by Dick’s Last Resort and the evening will include appearances from Santa and Predators mascot GNASH, live entertainment, gingerbread men and gifts provided by the Nashville Predators staff. Predators forward Martin Erat has also purchased a holiday suite for two upcoming games during the holiday season.