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TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. DALLAS
Nashville opens its season series against the Dallas Stars tonight at American Airlines Center. Nashville and Dallas have spilt their last 10 games (5-5-0). The Predators are 4-6-0 in Dallas’ barn since 2006-07 and are 6-17-1 all-time.
A season ago, the Predators won the opening game of the season series 1-0 on Oct. 23, 2010, but dropped the next two, before splitting the series in the final game on March 26, 2011. The final game was tied at one goal a piece after the first period, but the Predators took control in the middle frame. Mike Fisher and David Legwand each scored twice, and Pekka Rinne turned aside 28 shots to help the Nashville Predators win their sixth straight game, 4-2. A month prior, Loui Eriksson broke a 2-2 tie with just 3:32 left in regulation to lift Dallas to a 3-2 victory. Colin Wilson (1g-1a) and Legwand (2a) each notched multi-point performances, but it was Blake Geoffrion who garnered headlines as he became the first Tennessee native and first fourth-generation player to make it to the NHL. In Dallas’ first game of 2010-11 season in the Music City on Dec. 28, Wilson notched his first career two-goal game in a 4-2 loss. The Predators early season victory in “Big D” on Oct. 23, was the first half of a back-to-back set for Nashville, one that saw it play at Tampa Bay less than 18 hours later. The Preds would get the only goal they needed from Cal O’Reilly just 42 seconds into the game with Rinne stopping all 30 shots he saw for his first shutout of the season in the 1-0 victory.
Wilson had four points (3g-1a) in four games against Dallas last season… Fisher has nine points (5g-4a) in 13 career games against the Stars. He also took his first career penalty shot against Dallas on Dec. 5, 2001 against Marty Turco, and scored… Patric Hornqvist fired a career-high/franchise-record 14 shots on goal on Dec. 28, 2010. He recorded his first NHL goals against former Dallas goalie Marty Turco on Oct. 15, 2008 in his second career game.
Thursday night’s come-from-behind victory over Columbus marked fourth time this month, and fifth time this season, that the Predators overcame at least a two-goal deficit to win. Nashville overcame just three two-goal deficits all of last season.
The Predators rallied from a 4-1 deficit at the first intermission to defeat the Blue Jackets 6-5 on Martin Erat’s game-winning goal with 8.4 seconds remaining on Thursday night. It was the first time since April 1, 2009 (St. Louis) that the Predators overcame a three-goal deficit and the first time Jan. 8, 2009 against Pittsburgh that the Predators won after trailing by three goals on home ice.
The first comeback of the season 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.
Captain Shea Weber was the catalyst for the Predators against Detroit on Dec. 17, as he tallied the game-tying and game-winning goals in the final 4:24 after Tootoo made it a one-goal game at 17:22 of the second period.
Nashville scored six goals for the second time this month and just the second time this season in Thursday night’s 6-5 come-from-behind victory over Columbus. Three of the six goals came in the middle frame, marking just the third time this season they have scored three goals in a period. The other six-goal effort was a 6-5 comeback win against Vancouver on Dec. 1.
Twelve different players posted at least a point for the Predators in Thursday night’s win. Shea Weber led the attack with three assists on the night. Four players posted multiple point efforts, as Martin Erat tallied two points on the night (1g-1a), including his game winner in the waning seconds of the third period. David Legwand netted the game-tying goal with less than four minutes remaining and added an assist. Ryan Suter and Colin Wilson both had two helpers on the night, while seven other Predators notched one point.
CAPTAIN RELIABLE Shea Weber racked up three helpers, including assists on both the game-tying and game-winning goals on Thursday night for his 45th multi-point game, moving him past Greg Johnson for 10th on the franchise’s all-time list. It marked his first three-assist performance since Dec. 29, 2009 against St. Louis and his first three-point outing since posting a goal and two assists against the Blue Jackets on Jan. 2, 2011.
In Nashville’s last 19 games, Weber has 20 points (7g-13a), moving him into first in team scoring (8g-20a-28pts). Nashville’s captain ranks second among NHL defensemen in goals (8), tied for second in power-play goals (5) and third in points (28). He also ranks among the League’s top five blueliners in plus/minus rating (+17) and shots (101). 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 5-1-1 when its captain scores. The Sicamous, B.C., native has been on the ice for nearly 62 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 56-of-91 goals in 2011-12.
POINTS UNDER PRESSURE
Nashville continues to produce timely goals in the final 20 minutes of play. In the third period this month, the Predators have outscored their opponents 15-8 (plus seven), while outshooting the opposition 99-96 (plus three) in those 10 games. For the season, Nashville ranks among the League’s top five in third-period scoring with 40 goals, while its opponents have scored 32 goals in the third (plus eight). Those goals have come despite being outshot 351-310 (minus 41).
In Nashville’s last 10 games, it has received 15 goals from 10 different skaters in the third period. This season, Nashville has scored 13 goals in the final 90 seconds of play, including three extra-attacker goals, and four game-winning goals.
Tonight marks the back end of Nashville’s fifth set of back-to-back games on the season. The Predators play just 11 sets of back-to-back contests this season – the lowest total in the team’s last four campaigns. Thus far, Nashville has posted a 3-2-0 record on the front end and a 2-2-0 record on the back half this season. A season ago, the Predators were 9-4-0 on the front end and 6-6-1 on the back end of two-games-in-two-nights scenarios.
• Nashville is 5-4-0 against the Pacific Division in 2011-12, including a 3-1-0 mark on the road.
• According to Stats Inc., Nashville’s 10 consecutive one-goal games from Nov. 28-Dec. 17 were just two games short of the NHL record. The Predators went 7-3-0 in those contests
• The Predators are 15-1-2 when scoring more than two goals.
• Martin Erat has five points (2g-3a) in four games. He has 22 points (7g-15a) in 25 games since returning from injury on Oct. 29. Nashville is now 6-0-0 when Erat scores.
• David Legwand has six points (3g-3a) in nine games.
• Ryan Suter has 15 points (2g-13a) in his last 19 games.
• Colin Wilson has nine points (3g-6a) in his last 10 games.
• In their 18 victories this season (17 non-shootout wins), the Predators have received game-winning goals from 13 different players. Colin Wilson (3), Martin Erat (2) and Nick Spaling (2) are the only players with multiple game-winning goals.