TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. VANCOUVER
The Predators open the home portion of their season series with Vancouver tonight at Bridgestone Arena, after splitting games in Vancouver earlier this season. Nashville has posted a 9-9-(1)-4 record all-time against the Canucks on home ice. These teams last met on Bridgestone ice in Game Six of the 2010-11 Western Conference Semifinals, as the Preds fell to the Canucks, 2-1.
In their most recent match-up on Dec. 1, the Predators jumped out to a 3-1 lead after first period goals from David Legwand, Mike Fisher and Shea Weber. Then, after surrendering four goals by the midway point of the second, the Predators mounted a comeback to tie the game at five after 40 minutes. The game remained tied until the 18:44 mark of the third, when Fisher sealed the 6-5 come-from-behind win with his second goal of the night. In their first meeting of the year on Oct. 20, Matt Halischuk tallied the lone goal for the Predators, and Anders Lindback saw his first action of the season in relief of Pekka Rinne, stopping 23-of-24 for shots in the final 40 minutes, cutting the final margin to 5-1.
Colin Wilson leads all Predators with four points (1g-4a) against the Canucks this season… Martin Erat has 14 points (5g-9a) in his last 12 games against the Canucks, including his second career hat trick and a career-high four points (tie) on Dec. 8, 2009.
PREDATORS POST A 14-3-0 RECORD IN THEIR LAST 17 GAMES
Nashville has posted the NHL’s best record (14-3-0) since Dec. 28, outscoring the opposition 53-33, despite being outshot 522-489 (minus 33) during that stretch. In Nashville’s last 17 games, it has averaged 3.12 goals per game, while allowing just 1.94 goals per game. The Predators’ current streak includes outscoring foes 43-28 while at even strength. In the 36 games prior, the Predators were outscored 72-54 at even strength. Those totals have pushed Nashville’s goals per game average from 2.60 prior to the stretch to 2.76 (T-12th, fifth in the West) currently, while its goals against has fallen from 2.80 to 2.55 (ninth).
THE FRONT LINE
The line of Mike Fisher, Marin Erat and Sergei Kostitsyn has been a driving force behind Nashville’s recent success, with Fisher and Erat both posting 16 points in the last 17 games. Fisher’s 16 points (8g-8a), include eight points (7g-1a) in his last seven outings. With his marker on Saturday, he is now tied for the team lead in goals (15). For the season, the Predators are 18-2-1 when Fisher records a point and 10-0-1 when he scores a goal.
On Saturday against St. Louis, Erat notched his first three-point performance (1g-2a) of the season, and the 99th multiple-point game of his career. He is now tied with David Legwand for most multi-point games in franchise history. The Trebic, Czech Republic native has moved into first in team scoring, after posting 16 points (4g-12a) in his last 17 games.
Kostitsyn is one point off the pace (8g-7a-15pts), after posting his seventh multi-point effort (1g-1a) of the season on Saturday. Those eight goals have come on his last 19 shots, and he currently leads the League in shooting percentage (24.5 percent).
PEKKA POWERS PREDS
On Saturday, Pekka Rinne posted his 11th consecutive victory – a franchise record – after turning aside a season-high 42 shots. Nashville is now 12-0-1 when Rinne makes 35 or more saves in a game. Since Dec. 28, he is 14-1-0 with a 1.72 goals-against average and a .944 save percentage. Additionally, Rinne is 20-2-0 in his last 22 appearances, improving to 30-11-4 on the season – the second-most wins in the League. He ranks third in the League in saves (1,311), shots against (1,417) and second in appearances (47).
His 11-game win streak matches the longest single-season winning streak by an NHL goaltender over the last 13 years. Since 1998–99, only four other goalies have recorded 11 straight wins in a single season: Patrick Roy (1998-99), Martin Brodeur (twice: 2000-01 and 2005–06), Martin Biron (2005-06) and Marc-Andre Fleury (2010-11).
Rinne was named the NHL’s Third Star of the Month for January after posting an 11-1-0 record last month, marking just the third time since the start of the 2005-06 season that a netminder has recorded more than 10 wins in a month (Jimmy Howard – 12 in March 2010 and Ray Emery – 12 in March 2006).
SPECIAL TEAMS PLAY
The Predators penalty kill has extinguished 23 of 26 shorthanded opportunities in the team’s last 11 games, and 41 of 48 opposing power plays in their last 17 – moving them from 24th in the NHL prior to the stretch (79.8 percent) to 15th (82.6 percent) currently. The Predators have not allowed a power-play goal in five straight home games, killing off 10 straight penalties during that span.
Nashville’s power play has posted six goals in its last seven games (6-for-19) and scored 12 man-advantage goals in its last 13 games. On home ice, the Predators have posted man-advantage goals in four straight outings, and the power-play has gone 9-for-23 (39.1 percent) in their last six home games. For the season, Nashville’s power play ranks second in the League (22.2 percent) behind only Vancouver. They have scored 39 power-play goals through 53 games after scoring 41 man-advantage markers in 82 contests a season ago.
HOME ICE ADVANTAGE
Entering tonight’s game, the Predators have won six straight, and 13 of their last 15 games, on home ice. It is the sixth time in franchise history the Preds have won six or more consecutive games at Bridgestone Arena – the most recent was a seven game streak from Oct. 29-Nov. 23, 2009. Nashville ranks among the League’s best on home ice since the beginning of the 2005-06 campaign, compiling 172 home victories – third-most behind only Detroit (178) and San Jose (173) 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 16 of their 27 home games this season – that total matches the number of sellouts from a season ago, and puts them 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 – 97.3 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 has posted a 12-2-2 mark against the Central this season, including six consecutive wins against divisional foes. That is the most points in intradivisional games in the League.
• Nashville is 26-2-2 when scoring three or more goals, and 24-1-1 when holding the opposition to two or less.
• In his last 34 games, All-Star defenseman Shea Weber has 27 points (9g-18a), moving him into second in team scoring (10g-25a-35pts). The Sicamous, B.C., native is third among NHL defensemen in goals (10), power-play goals (5), and ranks fourth in points (35).
• In their 32 victories this season (29 non-shootout wins), the Predators have received game-winning goals from 15 different players. Mike Fisher leads the team and ranks in the NHL’s Top-10 with five game-winners. He is also one GWG shy of his career-high (six) set in 2009-10 with Ottawa.
• The Predators lead the Western Conference and are tied with Philadelphia for the most 10-goal scorers of any team in the NHL (nine each).
• The Predators rank in the League’s Top 10 teams in one-goal games (14-5-4) and they have posted the League’s best record (10-2) in games decided by two goals.
• The Predators are 22-2-3 when scoring first, ranking among the top five the League. They have led after one period in just 17 of 53 games (32 wins), going 14-1-2 in those contests. Nashville is also 14-3-1 when tied at the first intermission.
• Nashville’s special teams are now plus-11 on the season after finishing plus-3 in 2010-11.
• The Predators rank among the League’s top five in third-period scoring this season. Nashville has potted 61 goals in the final frame this season, including 36 goals in its last 29 third periods. Nineteen of Nashville’s goals have come in the final 100 seconds of regulation, including three extra-attacker goals, and five more game-winners.
• In its last 17 games, Nashville has outscored its opponent 20-11 in the first period.