TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. PHILADELPHIA
The Flyers make their only appearance of the 2011-12 season tonight at Bridgestone Arena. Nashville is 5-6-(3)-0 in 14 all-time games against Philadelphia, with six of those needing overtime or a shootout. The Predators are an even 2-2-2 mark on home ice.
In their only match up against the Flyers last season on Feb. 3, 2011, the Predators were on their annual Father’s Trip. The game was tied 2-2 after 55 minutes of play on goals from Marcel Goc and Joel Ward, before Philly’s Ville Leino beat Anders Lindback with less than four minutes remaining to secure the 3-2 victory for the Flyers.
Philadelphia’s last trip to the Music City came on March 16, 2010, as Nashville used the shootout to prevail, 4-3, in their final out-of-conference contest that season. The Flyers jumped out to a 1-0 lead just 81 seconds in, before seeing the Predators respond with three goals later in the first to take a 3-1 lead. After a scoreless middle frame, Philly would force overtime with two markers of its own. After five minutes of four-on-four play, Pekka Rinne – who had already stopped 42-of-45 Flyer shots through 65 minutes – shut down three Philly shooters in the shootout, while Martin Erat converted the Preds’ lone attempt to pick up the extra point.
The Predators and Flyers have had more transactions (17) than games (14) between them since Nashville’s inaugural season in 1998-99. The biggest deal came on Feb. 15, 2007, as Nashville acquired future hall-of-famer Peter Forsberg from Philadelphia for forward Scottie Upshall, defenseman Ryan Parent (who Nashville would reacquire three years later in another trade with the Flyers), a first-round (which Nashville reacquired to select Jonathon Blum) and third-round selection in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.
Erat has a goal in four of five games against Philadelphia dating back to Dec. 3, 2005, amassing seven points (4g-3a) in seven games all-time against the Flyers… Mike Fisher has played more games against the Flyers than any other Predator. He has posted 12 points (4g-8a) in 35 career games against Philly.
LEGWAND LIFTS PREDS
It took only 34 seconds of sudden-death four-on-four action for David Legwand to net the overtime game-winner on Thursday night against Colorado. That goal was his ninth-career overtime goal, ranking him 17th all-time in the category among players like Teemu Selanne and fellow Michigan native Mike Modano. Thursday night was also Legwand’s third multi-goal game of the year, after he opened the Predators scoring in the second period. His last multiple goal game came on Nov. 5, when he scored the overtime game-winner against San Jose.
The Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich., native has posted three points (2g-1a) in three games and is now tied for the team lead with 12 goals on the season. Legwand has been the best Predator in the final 20-plus minutes of play, as nine of his 12 goals have come in the third period or overtime. His 27 points (12g-15a) are tied with Martin Erat (9g-18a) for second in team scoring.
WHEN KOSTITSYN SHOOTS, HE SCORES Sergei Kostitsyn tallied the game-tying goal at the 8:34 mark of the third period on Thursday night, giving him four goals on six shots in the last five games, after posting his first career hat trick against Calgary on Jan. 1. He currently leads the team in shooting percentage (22.5 percent) and ranks second in the NHL among players who have played at least 30 games this season.
A season ago, Kostitsyn led the League in shooting percentage (24.7 percent) after scoring 23 goals on 93 shots. He is one of only two players (Detroit’s Patrick Eaves) in the past six-plus seasons to score at least 20 goals while taking less than 100 shots. This season, he is on pace to duplicate that feat, with nine goals on just 40 shots in 37 games.
Thursday night’s come-from-behind victory over Colorado marked the sixth time this season that the Predators have overcome a two- or- three-goal deficit to win. It was also the fifth time the Predators have posted a comeback victory on a Thursday night since Dec. 1, 2011. Nashville overcame just three two-goal deficits all of last season.
On Thursday night, the Predators trailed after the first period, but responded with a second-period goal by David Legwand and a third period marker from Sergei Kostitsyn to force overtime. In the extra frame, Legwand netted his second game-winner of the season to give the Preds the 3-2 victory.
Four of Nashville’s comebacks occurred in the final month of 2011. The Predators opened December with a come-from-behind thriller in Vancouver to win 6-5. 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. 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 to win 4-3.
On Dec. 22, the Predators rallied from a 4-1 deficit at the first intermission to defeat the Blue Jackets 6-5. 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 (Pittsburgh) that the Predators won after trailing by three goals on home ice. There were only 11 games during the first half of the NHL season in which a team won after trailing by three goals. Nashville is one of only two teams (Florida) to win in regulation after trailing by three goals. The other nine games required either overtime or a shootout to decide the winner.
HOME ICE ADVANTAGE
Entering tonight’s game, the Predators have won nine of their last 11 home games, giving them 13 home wins on the season. Nashville ranks among the League’s best on home ice since the beginning of the 2005-06 campaign, compiling 168 home wins – third-most behind only Detroit (174) and San Jose (170) 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 in Bridgestone Arena. The Predators have sold out Smashville for 13 of their 23 home games this season; that total puts the Predators on pace to break the franchise record of 20 sellouts established during the inaugural season in 1998-99. Bridgestone Arena is averaging 16,648 fans per home game this season – 97 percent capacity. The highest average attendance for a season in franchise history occurred during the 1999-2000 season, when the Predators averaged 16,600 fans per game.
• Nashville is 4-2-2 against the Eastern Conference in 2011-12, including a 4-1-1 mark on home ice.
• Nashville is 6-1-0 in its last seven games and 12-4-0 through its last 16.
• The Predators have a .294 winning percentage when trailing after two periods (5-12-0), good for the second best record in the NHL.
• Pekka Rinne is 22-11-4 with a 2.55 goals-against average, .919 save percentage and three shutouts. He ranks second in the League in wins (22), shots faced (1,163), saves (1,069) and appearances (39).
• Martin Erat has 10 points (4g-6a) in his last 13 games. He has 27 points (9g-18a) in 34 games since returning from injury on Oct. 29. Nashville is 7-0-0 when Erat scores.
• In his last 24 games, Shea Weber has 23 points (8g-15a), moving him into first in team scoring (9g-22a-31pts). The Sicamous, B.C., native is tied for second among NHL defensemen in both goals (9) and power-play goals (5), and ranks fourth in points (31).
• Jordin Tootoo has posted four points (4a) in his last five games. He has 12 points (4g-8a) in 17 games dating back to Dec. 1, 2011. He has already set a career high in points (20).
• Ryan Suter is one of two players in the League to play more than 1,150 minutes this season.
• The Predators are 19-2-2 when scoring more than two goals.
• In their 24 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), David Legwand (2) and Nick Spaling (2) are the only players with multiple game-winning goals.
• In its last 19 outings, Nashville has scored 23 third-period goals. The Predators rank among the League’s Top 10 in third-period scoring with 48 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.