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TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. N.Y. ISLANDERS
The Predators visit Long Island this afternoon in the first game of a back-to-back set against the New York City teams. Nashville holds a 9-3-2 edge all-time in the series, and has garnered points in all eight games since the start of the 2002-03 campaign, posting a 6-0-2 record. The Predators are 3-1-2 all-time at Nassau Coliseum.
These teams last met on Dec. 13, 2010, as Anders Lindback made 28 saves to record his second consecutive shutout after blanking Florida for his first career whitewash just 48 hours ealier. Patric Hornqvist notched two goals, Nick Spaling registered his first career tally and both Sergei Kostitsyn and Jerred Smithson also found the back of the net in a 5-0 Nashville victory at Bridgestone Arena.
This is Nashville’s first visit to Long Island since Feb. 9, 2010, when the Islanders claimed a 4-3 shootout win. The teams traded goals in the second, with Cal O’Reilly and Joel Ward scoring for Nashville. Steve Sullivan notched a power-play goal in the third to take the lead, but the Islanders battled back to force overtime. The shootout was required after a scoreless extra frame, with Martin Erat scoring the only goal for the Preds in the shootout.
All-time series highlight: On Oct. 15, 2002, at the Nassau Coliseum, Predators defenseman Karlis Skrastins pulled off an offensive feat rarely attained – scoring a goal while his team was two-men down. Forward Vladimir Orszagh and goaltender Tomas Vokoun were both penalized as the clock ran down in the first period, leaving the Predators two-men short against the Islanders heading into the middle frame. Just 21 seconds into the second period, Skrastins caught the Islanders’ goalie Chris Osgood off guard, giving Nashville a 3-1 lead. To this day, it is still the only 3-on-5 goal scored in the Predators’ history. The Islanders would eventually rally for a 4-3 overtime victory.
Martin Erat has seven points (2g-5a) in eight career games against the Islanders, including assists in each of the last three meetings... Against the Isles, Pekka Rinne is 1-0-1 with a 1.44 goals-against average and a .945 save percentage for his career.
The line of Mike Fisher, Martin Erat and Sergei Kostitsyn combined for six points (3g-3a) against Philadelphia on Saturday night. In Nashville’s last four games, the trio has accounted for 17 points (5g-12a), led by Fisher, who has posted seven points (1g-6a) during that span. The Peterborough, Ont., native posted two points (1g-1a) against Philly and has assists in four straight games, just one game shy of his career long (five games (5a), Jan. 1-12, 2008 with Ottawa). He has seven points (1g-6a) in Nashville’s last four games.
Erat opened the scoring for Nashville on Saturday night with a power-play marker at 19:02 of the first period. He posted two points (1g-1a) on the night and has 12 points (5g-7a) in his last 14 games. Nashville is 8-1-0 when the Trebic, Czech Republic native scores this season.
Midway through the second, Kostitsyn found the back of the net, giving him goals in back-to-back games for the first time this season. He had two points (1g-1a) against the Flyers for his first multi-point performance since potting his first career hat trick on Jan 1 vs. Calgary. Kostitsyn has seven points (5g-2a) in the Predators last six games.
SPALING SETS CAREER HIGH Nick Spaling set a career high for points in a season (7g-8a-15pts) with his goal against Philadelphia on Saturday night. The Drayton, Ont., native has four points (2g-2a) in his last six games and is just one goal short of tying his career high (8g) established a season ago. 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 6-0-1 this season.
After being held scoreless on the power play in five straight games (Dec. 26-Jan. 5), Nashville has posted six power-play goals in its last four games. The Predators went one-for-three (33.3 percent) against Philly on Saturday night on Martin Erat’s first period goal. This season, Nashville’s power play has been the most productive in franchise history, as it ranks second in the League (21.6 percent) behind only the Western Conference-leading Vancouver Canucks. The team has been consistent both at home and on the road, posting 18 goals on 82 chances (22.0 percent) on home ice, while scoring 15 goals on 71 man-advantage opportunities (21.1 percent) on the road. Shea Weber leads the team with 14 points (5g-9a) on the power play, while David Legwand (4g-9a) and Ryan Suter (3g-10a) are just one point shy with 13 points each. Weber and rookie Craig Smith are tied for the team lead with five man-advantage goals.
Nashville begins the sixth set of back-to-game games this season tonight against the Islanders. 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 2-3-0 record on the back half in 2011-12. 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.
THE PREDATORS IN MATINEES
This afternoon marks the second of just three matinee contests the Predators play in 2011-12, with the final one being a 12 p.m. CT start at Boston on Feb. 11. The Predators topped Calgary by a 2-0 score in their first afternoon game of the season on Oct. 22. Since the start of the 2003-04 campaign, Nashville has a 21-7-7 record in matinees.
• Nashville is 5-2-2 against the Eastern Conference in 2011-12.
• Nashville is 7-1-0 in its last eight games and 13-4-0 in its last 17.
• The Predators are 20-7-4 (.711) in games decided by two goals or fewer. That total is good for the second-most wins the second highest points percentage in the NHL.
• Pekka Rinne is 23-11-4 with a 2.54 goals-against average, .920 save percentage and three shutouts. He ranks second in the League in wins (23), shots faced (1,201), saves (1,105) and appearances (40). The Predators are 9-0-1 when Rinne makes 35 saves or more, like he did against the Flyers on Saturday (36 saves on 38 shots).
• In his last 25 games, Shea Weber has 24 points (8g-16a), moving him into first in team scoring (9g-23a-32pts). The Sicamous, B.C., native is tied for second among NHL defensemen in both goals (9) and power-play goals (5), and is third in points (32).
• Jordin Tootoo has posted five points (5a) in his last six games. He has 13 points (4g-9a) in 18 games dating back to Dec. 1, 2011. He has already set a career high in points (21).
• Ryan Suter is one of two players in the League to play more than 1,150 minutes this season.
• In their 24 victories this season (17 non-shootout wins), the Predators have received game-winning goals from 15 different players. Colin Wilson (3), Nick Spaling (3), Martin Erat (2), Patric Hornqvist (2), David Legwand (2) are the only players with multiple game-winning goals.
• The Predators are 20-2-2 when scoring more than two goals.
• Nashville has outscored its opponent 10-6 in the last 10 first periods.
• In its last 20 outings, Nashville has scored 25 third-period goals. The Predators rank among the League’s top five in third-period scoring with 50 tallies. Fifteen of Nashville’s goals have come in the final 90 seconds of regulation, including three extra-attacker goals, and four more game-winners.