TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. COLORADO
Nashville and Colorado face off for second game of their home-and-home set tonight at Bridgestone Arena. The Predators have posted a 23-20-6 record in 49 games all-time against the Avalanche. Nashville is 12-9-3 all-time against the Avalanche on home ice, including a 4-0-0 mark dating back to the beginning of the 2009-10 season. The Predators swept the season series against the Avalanche in 2010-11, outscoring the Avs 17-8 in four games. Nashville has won six straight against Colorado going back to Feb. 4, 2010.
On Tuesday night, the Predators received goals from Nick Spaling, Ryan Ellis and Martin Erat in the first period, and an insurance marker from Patric Hornqvist in the third to notch a 4-1 victory. These teams last met in the Music City on March 12, 1011. 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.
Erat has 10 points (4g-6a) in his last five games against Colorado… Hornqvist has 12 points (6g-6a) in 10 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 nine games against Colorado… Rinne is 8-3-0 all-time against the Avalanche.
ELLIS MAKES HIS MARK
With two points (1g-1a), including his first career game-winning goal, against Colorado on Tuesday, rookie Ryan Ellis has posted back-to-back multiple-point games (2g-2a). Three of his four points (2g-1a) have come on the power play, where he ranks third on the team in average ice time (3:03) behind only Ryan Suter (4:07) and Shea Weber (3:57). His two power-play markers rank sixth among first-year players this season. The Freelton, Ont., native scored his first NHL goal on the power play on Saturday night against Carolina, making him one of four Predator rookies to net their first NHL goal within their first eight games this season – Craig Smith (1gp), Gabriel Bourque (4gp) and Roman Josi (8gp) are the others.
SPALING TIES CAREER HIGH Nick Spaling opened the scoring against Colorado on Tuesday night, giving him three points (1g-2a) in his last four games. With 14 points (6g-8a) on the season, the Drayton, Ont., native has already matched his career high established a season ago (8g-6a-14pts). The Predators have never lost in regulation when Spaling scores – they were 6-0-0 last season, 1-0 during last year’s playoffs and are 5-0-1 this season.
HORNQVIST SCORES AGAIN Patric Hornqvist built on his team goal-scoring lead with his third period goal on Tuesday night in Denver. He has three goals in two games after notching his second two-goal game of the year against Carolina on Saturday night. Hornqvist has 19 points (12g-7a) on the season, including five points (3g-2a) in his last four games. 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). That streak is also tied with former Predator Scott Hartnell for the longest in the NHL this season (6g, Dec. 2-13). Nashville is 8-1-1 this season when Hornqvist scores.
BACK ON TRACK
After being held scoreless on the power play in five straight games (Dec. 26-Jan. 5), the Predators have converted five of their last eight opportunities with the man advantage, going one-for-three on Tuesday night and four-for-five against Carolina on Saturday. The performance against the Hurricanes marked just the fifth time in franchise history the Preds scored four or more power-play goals in a game. Ryan Ellis (2g-1a) and Mike Fisher (3a) have led the way with three points apiece on the man-advantage in the last two outings.
This season, Nashville’s power play has been the most productive in franchise history, as it ranks second in the League (22.2 percent) behind only the Western Conference-leading Vancouver Canucks. The team has been consistent both at home and on the road, posting 17 goals on 73 chances (23.3 percent) on home ice, while scoring 15 goals on 71 man-advantage opportunities (21.1 percent) on the road. Shea Weber (5g-8a) and David Legwand (4g-9a) lead the team with 13 points each on the power play this season. Weber and Craig Smith are tied for the team lead with five goals on the man advantage.
Tonight marks the tail-end of the home-and-home set between these two teams which began on Tuesday in Denver. This is the first and only home-and-home series for the Preds in 2011-12, and the first set to not occur on back-to-back nights since the 2006-07 campaign. This week’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 14-9-0 in home-and-home series, including an 8-3-0 record on home ice and 6-6-0 record in the away portion.
• The Predators are 7-5-0 against the Northwest Division this season, including a 3-1-0 mark on home ice.
• Pekka Rinne is 21-11-4 with a 2.57 goals-against average, .919 save percentage and three shutouts. He leads the League in saves (1,042) and ranks second in wins (20), shots faced (1.134), and appearances (38).
• Martin Erat has 10 points (4g-6a) in his last 12 games. He has 27 points (9g-18a) in 33 games since returning from injury on Oct. 29. Nashville is 7-0-0 when Erat scores.
• In his last 23 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).
• Jordin Tootoo has posted four points (4a) in his last four games. He has 12 points (4g-8a) in 16 games dating back to Dec. 1, 2011. He has already set a career high in points (20).
• Ryan Suter is one of three players in the League to play more than 1,100 minutes this season.
• The Predators are 18-2-2 when scoring more than two goals.
• In their 23 victories this season (17 non-shootout wins), the Predators have received game-winning goals from 15 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 outscored its opponent 9-5 in the last five first periods.
• In its last 18 outings, Nashville has scored 22 third-period goals. The Predators rank among the League’s Top 10 in third-period scoring with 47 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.