TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. OTTAWA
Tonight, Nashville makes its only trip of the season to Canada’s Capital, as they take on the Senators at Scotiabank Place. The Predators have taken three of their last five games against the Senators, including wins in their last two trips to Ottawa. The visiting team has won each of the last four games between the two teams.
These teams last met on Dec. 23, 2010, in the Music City, as Ottawa took home the 2-1 victory. The Preds and Sens last met at Scotiabank Place on Oct. 22, 2009, with Nashville snapping a six-game losing streak with a 6-5 overtime win. The Predators opened up a 3-0 lead just 11 minutes into the game, only to see Ottawa tie the game with three goals in the first 8:10 of the third period. After exchanging goals in the waning minutes of the third to make it 5-5, extra time would be needed to determine a winner. Shea Weber notched his second goal – and the team’s second power-play goal – of the game at 2:11 of sudden death to give Nashville the 6-5 overtime victory. Ryan Suter also notched his lone career two-goal game in the victory.
This is Mike Fisher’s first trip back to Ottawa since the Predators acquired him from the Senators on Feb. 10, 2011. He was selected in the second round, 44th overall, by the Senators in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft and during 10-plus seasons in Ottawa, he posted 167 goals and 181 assists in 675 career games. Fisher helped lead the Sens to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2007, and in 75 playoff games in a Senators sweater, he posted 28 points (14g-14a). Fisher was a finalist for the Selke Trophy as the NHL’s top defensive forward in 2005-06, after tying for third in the NHL in shorthanded points (4g-3a-7pts) and setting a career high in plus/minus rating (+23). Off the ice, he was very active in the Ottawa community with charities like Roger’s House.
Francis Bouillon has faced the Senators more than any other Pred. He has six points (2g-4a) in 36 career games against Ottawa… Martin Erat has six points (1g-5a) in seven career games against the Sens… Ryan Suter has five points (3g-2a) in five career games against Ottawa, while Weber has four points (2g-2a) in five games.
PREDATORS POST A 14-3-1 RECORD IN THEIR LAST 18 GAMES
Nashville has posted a 14-3-1 record in their last 18 games, outscoring the opposition 56-37, despite being out shot 553-529 (minus 24). In its last 18 games, it has averaged 3.11 goals per game, while allowing just 2.05 goals per game. The Predators’ current streak includes outscoring foes 46-30 at even strength, moving Nashville to 11th in the League in even-strength scoring. 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 (12th) currently, while its goals against has fallen from 2.80 to 2.56 (tied for ninth).
THE FRONT LINE
The line of Mike Fisher, Sergei Kostitsyn and Martin Erat has been a driving force behind Nashville’s recent success, with Fisher and Erat both posting 17 points in the last 18 games. Fisher’s 17 points (9g-8a), includes nine points (8g-1a) in his last eight outings. He leads the team in goals (16) this season, after his marker against Vancouver on Tuesday. For the season, the Predators are 18-2-2 when Fisher records a point and 10-0-2 when he scores a goal.
With his goal on Tuesday vs. Vancouver, Kostitsyn has notched 15 points (9g-6a) in his last 16 games. He has nine goals on his last 22 shots, and currently leads the League in shooting percentage (25 percent). Kostitsyn and Fisher are tied for the third-most goals (9) in the League since Jan. 1.
Erat posted an assist on Kostitsyn’s goal on Tuesday night, giving him 17 points (4g-13a) in his last 18 games. The Trebic, Czech Republic native now leads the team in points (40), and has posted at least 40 points eight consecutive seasons. In Erat’s last 94 regular season games dating back to Dec. 1, 2010, he has posted 84 points (27g-57a).
ANOTHER RECORD FOR RINNE Pekka Rinne posted a franchise-record 11-game win streak from Jan. 7 to Feb. 4, matching the longest single-season win 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).
Since Dec. 28, the Kempele, Finland native is 14-1-1 with a 1.79 goals-against average and a .942 save percentage. Additionally, Rinne is 20-2-1 in his last 23 decisions, improving to 30-11-5 on the season – the second-most wins in the League. He ranks second behind only Ottawa’s Craig Anderson in saves (1,339), shots against (1,448) and appearances (48) this season.
SPECIAL TEAMS PLAY
The Predators penalty kill has extinguished 23 of 27 shorthanded opportunities in the team’s last 12 games, and 41 of 49 opposing power plays in their last 18 – moving them from 24th in the NHL prior to the stretch (79.8 percent) to 17th (82.1 percent) currently. Nashville has been shorthanded the ninth-fewest times in the NHL and the fourth-fewest times among Western Conference teams (173).
Nashville’s power play has posted six goals in its last eight games (6-for-23) and scored 12 man-advantage goals in its last 14 games. For the season, Nashville’s power play ranks third in the League (21.7 percent). They have scored 39 power-play goals through 53 games after scoring 41 man-advantage markers in 82 contests a season ago.
Nashville’s special teams are now plus-10 on the season after finishing plus-3 in 2010-11. Nashville (103.8) ranks among the League’s Top 10 in combined special teams play (PP%+PK%).
• Nashville is six points ahead of last season’s pace through 54 games – 32-17-5 record (69pts) vs. 28-19-7 record (63pts) a season ago.
• Nashville is 26-2-3 when scoring more than two goals, and 24-1-1 when holding the opposition to two or less.
• Shea Weber notched his 250th career point with an assist on Tuesday, giving him 28 points (9g-19a) in his last 35 games. He is third among NHL defensemen in goals (10), and he ranks fourth in power-play goals (5) and points (36). Since Oct. 25, Weber has not gone more than two games without a point.
• Ryan Suter has five points (1g-4a) in six games since returning from injury on Jan. 23.
• Matt Halischuk has five points (2g-3a) in his last six games. He has 12 goals through 53 games this season, after posting just four goals in 48 career games prior. Halischuk is tied for fifth on the team in goal scoring this season, despite averaging just 11:17 of ice time this season (22nd on the team).
• 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 have the League’s highest winning percentage (.736) in games decided by two goals or fewer. They rank in the League’s Top 10 teams in one-goal games (14-5-5) and 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 54 games (32 wins), going 14-1-2 in those contests. Nashville is also 14-3-1 when tied at the first intermission.
• In its last 17 games, Nashville has outscored its opponent 21-14 in the first period.
• Nashville has allowed just seven second period goals in its last 18 outings. The team’s 33 goals allowed in the middle frame is the lowest total in the League.
• 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.