TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. COLORADO
Nashville and Colorado face off for the first time in 2011-12 tonight in the Mile High City. The Predators have posted a 22-20-6 record in 48 games all-time against the Avalanche. Nashville has posted a 10-11-(1)-2 record all-time in Denver, but is 9-6-1 in its last 16 trips to Colorado. The Predators swept the season series against the Avalanche in 2010-11, outscoring the Avalanche 17-8 in four games. Nashville has won five straight against Colorado going back to Feb. 4, 2010.
These teams last met at the Pepsi Center on March 31, 2011. The Predators outshot the Avalanche 30-14 through the first two frames and built a 2-0 lead on goals by Colin Wilson and Jordin Tootoo. Martin Erat opened the Predators lead with a power-play goal at 12:52 of the third period. Colorado responded late with two goals, but Nashville held on for the 3-2 victory. Nashville claimed two-goal victories in both games on Bridgestone ice last season. Most recently, on March 12, the Predators jumped out to a two-goal lead on first-period markers by Shea Weber and Matt Halischuk to claim a 4-2 decision. A month earlier, on Feb. 12, Mike Fisher made his Predators debut in a 5-3 victory at Bridgestone Arena. After relinquishing the first goal of the game, Erat led the offensive charge, posing three points (1g-2a), while both Patric Hornqvist and David Legwand notched a goal and an assist. The Preds and Avs first meeting in Denver on Jan. 20, 2011 saw Nashville put up five goals, scoring a pair in the first period, and three more in the third en route to a 5-1 victory. Twelve different Predators posted at least a point, and Pekka Rinne stopped 32-of-33 shots in the win.
Erat had eight points (3g-5a) in four games against Colorado last season to lead all Predators… Both Legwand (2g-2a) and Hornqvist (1g-3a) had four points in a three games against Colorado a season ago. Hornqvist has 11 points (5g-6a) in nine career games against Colorado… Halischuk scored his first goal as a Predator on Jan. 20, 2011 against Colorado… Weber has eight points (3g-5a) in his last eight games against Colorado… Rinne is 7-3-0 all-time against the Avalanche.
PREDS HIT THE MIDWAY POINT
The Nashville Predators hit the midpoint of the 2011-12 season with a 22-15-4 record and 48 points, just two points shy of last season’s pace (22-13-6, 50 points) which saw the team finish with 99 points as they went on to make club history, winning their first-ever playoff series in the Western Conference Quarterfinals against Anaheim. The Predators played 22 home games during the first half of the season, just two games shy of the League high. The Predators enter the second half having won eight of their last 10 home games. Nashville ranks among the League’s best on home ice since the beginning of the 2005-06 campaign, compiling 167 home wins – third-most behind only Detroit (173) and San Jose (170) in that span. The Predators have sold out Smashville for 13 of their 22 home games this season, including a franchise-record eighth consecutive sellout against Carolina on Jan. 8. That total puts the Predators on pace to break the franchise record of 20 sellouts established during the inaugural season in 1998-99.
In the 19 games away from the Music City in the first half of the season, Nashville has posted a 10-8-1 record, putting the franchise record of 23 road wins within reach. Beginning Tuesday, the Predators will play 22 of their remaining 41 games away from Bridgestone Arena.
With two goals against Carolina on Saturday night, Patric Hornqvist became the Predators top goal scorer with 11 tallies on the season. That performance was his second two-goal game of the year, with the other coming on Halloween night against Chicago. Hornqvist has now posted 11 multiple-goal games in his career, tying him with Martin Erat for fifth on the franchise’s all-time list. He also tied a Predators season-high with seven shots on goal against Carolina; it was his third seven-shot outing and the fifth for a Nashville skater this season.
For the season, the Sollentuna, Sweden native has 18 points (11g-7a); he posted seven goals and four assists during a seven-game point streak from Oct. 27 - Nov. 9, 2011, the longest by a Predator this season. During that span, he tied a franchise record with goals (7) in six consecutive games (Oct. 27-Nov. 8). Nashville is 7-1-1 this season when Hornqvist scores.
FISHER POSTS 200 HELPERS Mike Fisher tied a career high with three assists against Carolina on Saturday night, the last of which was the 200th helper of his career. It was the fourth time the Peterborough, Ont., native has posted three assists in a game, with the most recent coming on Jan. 18, 2010 against Boston. Fisher leads all Nashville forwards in ice time, averaging more than 19 minutes per game. He is also one of two Predator forwards who have won more than 50 percent (51.8 percent) of his face-offs this season (minimum 400 attempts) – Jerred Smithson is the other (55.5 percent). Fisher also leads all Nashville forwards in blocked shots (35) and ranks third in hits (57) in 2011-12.
Starting Tuesday at the Pepsi Center, the Predators and Avalanche play a home-and-home set that concludes Thursday at Bridgestone Arena. This is the first and only home-and-home set for the Preds in 2011-12, and the first set to not occur on back-to-back nights since the 2006-07 campaign. Tonight’s match-up also marks the first Predators home-and-home series not played within the Central Division since the Preds and Oilers played on March 24 and 27, 2007. Since 2005-06, Nashville is 13-9-0 in home-and-home series, including an 8-3-0 record on home ice and 5-6-0 record in the away portion.
Their last home and home occurred almost a year ago (Jan. 15-16, 2011) against the Central Division rival Chicago Blackhawks, with the Predators and Blackhawks splitting the series. The season prior, Nashville and Chicago once again played a home-and-home on the two days after Christmas, with the Hawks prevailing in both contests. It was the last time the clubs met until the 2010 Playoffs. After no home-and-homes in 2007-08, the Preds played a pair in 2008-09, splitting a pair with Columbus on Oct. 17-18, 2008, and Chicago on Jan. 10-11, 2009. In 2006-07, the Predators played five sets of home-and-home games: two sets against Columbus and one set apiece against Detroit, St. Louis and Edmonton. The 2005-06 season saw Nashville play two sets of home-and-home games – one each against St. Louis and Detroit.
• The Predators are 6-5-0 against the Northwest Division this season, including a 3-4-0 mark on the road.
• Pekka Rinne is 20-11-4 with a 2.61 goals-against average, .917 save percentage and three shutouts. He is tied for the League lead in saves (1010) and tied for second in wins (20), shots faced (1,101) and appearances (37).
• Martin Erat has eight points (3g-5a) in his last 11 games. He has 25 points (8g-17a) in 32 games since returning from injury on Oct. 29. Nashville is 6-0-0 when Erat scores.
• Craig Smith has posted 17 points (6g-11a) in 19 road games. Six of his nine goals on the season have come away from Bridgestone Arena.
• In his last 22 games, Shea Weber has 22 points (8g-14a), moving him into first in team scoring (9g-21a-30pts). The Sicamous, B.C., native is tied for second among NHL defensemen in both goals (9) and power-play goals (5), and ranks third in points (30).
• Ryan Suter is one of two players in the League to play more than 1,100 minutes this season.
• The Predators are 17-2-2 when scoring more than two goals.
• In their 22 victories this season (17 non-shootout wins), the Predators have received game-winning goals from 14 different players. Colin Wilson (3), Martin Erat (2), Patric Hornqvist (2) and Nick Spaling (2) are the only players with multiple game-winning goals.
• Nashville has scored six first period goals in its last four games.
• In its last 17 outings, Nashville has scored 21 third-period goals. The Predators rank among the League’s Top 10 in third-period scoring with 46 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 10 goals have come in the third period or overtime.
• 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.