TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. DALLAS
Dallas makes its first trip to Nashville this season tonight at Bridgestone Arena. Nashville is 6-4-0 on home ice since the 2006-07 season and is 13-10-1 all-time against the Stars in the Music City.
In their first match-up of the season on Dec. 23 in the “Big D,” the Stars jumped out to a three-goal lead in the first period before Matt Halischuk and Martin Erat pulled the Predators within one in the middle frame. Mike Ribeiro responded with less than two minutes remaining, opening the Stars’ lead back to two goals going into the third. David Legwand netted the Predators’ second power-play goal of the game at 4:38 of the third, pulling the Predators within a goal, but Jamie Benn's goal 30 seconds later restored the Stars' two-goal lead. Michael Ryder potted an empty-net goal in the waning minutes to secure the 6-3 victory for the Stars. Anders Lindback relieved Pekka Rinne midway through the first, stopping 19-of-21 shots.
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 – also the most recent tilt between the clubs in Nashville – was tied at one goal apiece after the first period, but the Predators took control in the middle frame. Legwand and Mike Fisher each scored twice, and Rinne turned aside 28 shots to help Nashville win its sixth straight game, 4-2.
Wilson has five points (3g-2a) in his last five games against Dallas… Fisher has nine points (5g-4a) in 14 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 goal against former Dallas goalie Marty Turco on Oct. 15, 2008 in his second career game.
PREDATORS IN 2011
Last year the Predators established several franchise firsts, including their first-ever playoff series win against Anaheim in the Western Conference Quarterfinals. In calendar year 2011, three Predators ranked among the League’s best in multiple statistical categories.
Captain Shea Weber paced all NHL defensemen in points (19g-41a-60pts) and goals (19) during the 2011 calendar year; his defensive partner, Ryan Suter, tied with Detroit’s Nicklas Lidstrom for sixth in points by a defenseman (49). Goaltender Pekka Rinne posted 42 wins in 2011, tying him with San Jose’s Antti Niemi for the best in the League. He posted the second-most saves by a goaltender (2,132) and finished third in save percentage (.928) behind only Boston’s Tim Thomas and NY Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist. Rinne also finished with a 2.26 goals against average in 2011, ranking him among the NHL’s Top 10.
TOOTOO TIES CAREER HIGH
With his multiple-point effort (2a) against Calgary on Jan. 1, Jordin Tootoo matched his previous career-high in points (18) and is poised to set career highs in points, goals and assists in 2011-12. His two-point performance on Sunday was his fifth multi-point game of the season. Prior to this season, he had just 11 multi-point games in 409 career games and no more than three multi-point efforts in a single season.
In 37 games this season, the Rankin Inlet, Nunavut native has posted 18 points (6g-12a), including 15 points (6g-9a) in his last 18 games. He began the 18-game span with the first-ever back-to-back multiple point games of his career against Edmonton (Nov. 22) and Minnesota (Nov. 23). His goal and assist against Edmonton on Nov. 22 marked the 99th and 100th points of his career.
His career high of 18 points has been hit twice – he established the mark in 2007-08, when he posted a personal-best 11 goals and seven assists, in 63 games. He then tied his career mark last season, when he posted eight goals and 10 assists in 54 games. His eight-season high in assists came in 2008-09 when he notched 12 in 72 games.
HOME ICE ADVANTAGE
Entering tonight’s game, the Predators have won seven of their last eight home games, giving them 11 home wins on the season. Nashville ranks among the League’s best on home ice since the beginning of the 2005-06 campaign, compiling 166 home wins – third-most behind only Detroit (173) and San Jose (168) in that span. Additionally, the Predators are the only team in the league to post at least 23 home victories in six consecutive seasons.
A factor in the Predators’ success has been the atmosphere at Bridgestone Arena. The Predators have sold out Smashville for 11 of their 20 home games this season; they did not record their 10th sellout last season until their 27th home game (Feb. 19) in 2010-11. That total puts the Predators on pace to break the franchise record of 20 sellouts established during the inaugural season in 1998-99. On the first day of 2012 vs. Calagary, the Predators sold out Bridgestone for the sixth straight game – tying the franchise record set between March 16 and April 17, 1999. Bridgestone Arena is averaging 16,594 fans per home game this season – 97 percent capacity. The highest average attendance in franchise history occurred during the 1999-2000 season, when the Predators averaged 16,600 fans per game.
• In his last 20 games played, Shea Weber has 21 points (7g-14a), moving him into first in team scoring (8g-21a-29pts). Nashville’s captain ranks second among NHL defensemen in goals (8), is tied for second in power-play goals (5) and ranks third in points (29). He has missed the past four games due to injury.
• Martin Erat has six points (3g-3a) in nine games. He has 23 points (8g-15a) in 30 games since returning from injury on Oct. 29. Nashville is 6-0-0 when Erat scores.
• Last month, Jerred Smithson led the NHL in faceoff percentage (67 percent) among forwards with at least 50 draws in December.
• The Predators are 16-2-2 when scoring more than two goals.
• Predators have never lost in regulation when Nick Spaling scores a goal. They were 6-0-0 last season, 1-0 during last year’s playoffs and are 4-0-1 this season.
• In their 21 victories this season (17 non-shootout wins), the Predators have received game-winning goals from 14 different players. Colin Wilson (3), Martin Erat (2) and Nick Spaling (2) are the only players with multiple game-winning goals.
• In its last 15 outings, Nashville has scored 19 third-period goals. The Predators rank among the League’s Top 10 in third-period scoring with 44 tallies. Fourteen of Nashville’s goals have come in the final 90 seconds of regulation, including three extra-attacker goals, and four more game winners. David Legwand has been the best Predator in the final 20-plus minutes of play, as seven of his team-leading 10 goals have come in the third period or overtime.