Start Time: Noon CT (radio pregame starts at 11am CT) TV: Fox Sports Tennessee (DirecTV 644 SD, 644-1 HD; Dish 448 SD, 9518 HD; Comcast Nashville 1675; Comcast Chattanooga/Cleveland/Knoxville 401; Comcast Memphis 830) Radio: Preds Radio Network Flagship - 102.5-FM The Game; Network Affiliates Away Game Viewing Headquarters: Visit any Middle Tennessee O’Charley’s location to watch all Preds road games
TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. BOSTON
The Predators and Bruins face off tonight at TD Garden in their only matchup of the 2011-12 season. This is the 17th all-time meeting, and eighth at the Garden, between the Preds and Bruins. The teams have split their last six contests, with the home team winning each of those games.
These teams met last season on St. Patrick’s Day 2011 in the Music City, as both teams traded goals in each period to tie the game at three after regulations. Colin Wilson and Sergei Kostitsyn each had a goal and an assist for the Preds. The Bruins held the late lead before David Legwand scored at 10:56 of the third to force overtime. In the extra frame, Shea Weber notched a power-play goal with 1:23 remaining, as the Predators beat the Bruins, 4-3. That win was the start of a six-game winning streak and a 9-2-1 run to end the regular season, lifting Nashville into the Western Conference’s fifth seed.
The Predators’ last trip to TD Garden came on Oct. 21, 2009, as the home team claimed the victory by a 3-2 score. Jerred Smithson opened the scoring and Colin Wilson tallied his first career goal at 6:17 of the second period to put Nashville ahead, 2-1. It was Wilson’s first game in the city where he won an NCAA National Championship with Boston University just six months earlier. The Bruins would tie it up later in the period and tally the only goal in the final frame to defeat the Predators, 3-2.
Brandon Yip also played on that 2009 Boston University National Championship team. In four seasons with the Terriers from 2005-09, he amassed 108 points (45g-63a) in 139 games… Nashville’s front office is loaded with Boston-area university connections – President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile played his college hockey at Northeastern University, while both Assistant General Manager Paul Fenton and Chief Amateur Scout Jeff Kealty spent four seasons at Boston University. Director of Hockey Operations Brian Poile went to Boston College.
Tonight’s contest could also include a couple of subplots including 2011 award finalists. If goaltenders Pekka Rinne and Tim Thomas both get the nod in net, it would pit the top two vote getters for the 2011 Vezina Trophy. Additionally, Shea Weber and Zdeno Chara were both finalists for the 2011 Norris Trophy, and have finished one-two in the last three Hardest Shot Competitions at NHL All-Star Weekend.
THE PREDATORS IN MATINEES
This afternoon marks the third and final matinee contest for the Predators in 2011-12. The Predators topped Calgary by a 2-0 score in their first afternoon game of the season on Oct. 22, and beat the Islanders by a 3-1 score on Jan. 16. Since the start of the 2003-04 campaign, Nashville has a 22-7-7 record in matinees.
PREDATORS POST A 14-4-1 RECORD IN THEIR LAST 19 GAMES
Nashville has posted a 14-4-1 record in their last 19 games, outscoring the opposition 59-41, despite being out shot 582-556 (minus 26). In its last 19 games, it has averaged 3.10 goals per game, while allowing just 2.15 goals per game. The Predators’ current streak includes outscoring foes 48-32 while at even strength, moving Nashville to 15th 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 average has fallen from 2.80 to 2.58 (T-11th).
FISHER-ERAT-KOSTITSYN LINE CONTINUES TO CLICK
The Predators’ line of Martin Erat, Mike Fisher and Sergei Kostitsyn has been the driving force behind the Predators’ recent success. Since the calendar flipped to 2012, Erat and Fisher have both ranked in the NHL’s Top 15 in point production. On Thursday, Erat posted his 100th career multi-point game (1g-1a) – the most by a Predator all-time. With his two-point effort against Ottawa, Erat now has 19 points (5g-14a) in his last 17 outings. The Trebic, Czech Republic native leads the team with points (42) and has posted at least 40 points in eight consecutive seasons. In Erat’s last 95 regular season games, dating back to Dec. 1, 2010, he has posted 86 points (28g-58a).
Since Jan. 1, Fisher has tallied 17 points (9g-8a), including nine points (8g-1a) in his last nine outings. He is now tied with Patric Hornqvist for the lead the team in goals (16) in 2011-12. For the season, the Predators are 18-2-2 when Fisher records a point and 10-0-2 when he scores a goal.
Sergei Kostitsyn has notched 15 points (9g-6a) in his last 17 games. He has nine goals on his last 23 shots, and currently leads the League in shooting percentage (24.6 percent). Kostitsyn and Fisher are tied for the fourth-most goals (9) in the League since Jan. 1.
NASHVILLE’S VEZINA CANIDATE
Since Dec. 28, Pekka Rinne is 14-2-1 with a 1.92 goals-against average and a .937 save percentage. Additionally, Rinne is 20-3-1 in his last 24 decisions, improving to 30-12-5 on the season – the second-most wins in the League. He ranks second in the League in saves (1,364), shots against (1,477) and appearances (49) this season.
Rinne recently 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 in 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).
• Nashville’s power play has scored 13 man-advantage goals in its last 15 games. For the season, Nashville’s power play ranks third in the League (21.6 percent). They have scored 40 power-play goals through 55 games after scoring 41 man-advantage markers in 82 contests a season ago.
• Nashville’s special teams are now plus-nine on the season after finishing plus-three in 2010-11. Nashville (103.2) ranks among the League’s Top 10 in combined special teams play (PP%+PK%).
• Nashville is 26-3-3 when scoring three or more goals, and 24-1-1 when holding the opposition to two or less.
• Nashville has been shorthanded the ninth-fewest times in the NHL and the fourth-fewest times among Western Conference teams (179).
• In his last 36 games, All-Star defenseman Shea Weber has 28 points (9g-19a), moving him into second in team scoring (10g-26a-36pts). He is third among NHL defensemen in goals (10), fourth in power-play goals (5) and fifth in points (36). Since Oct. 25, Weber has not gone more than two games without a point.
• Ryan Suter has seven points (1g-6a) in seven games since returning from injury on Jan. 23.
• Matt Halischuk has five points (2g-3a) in his last seven games. He has 12 goals through 54 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 among all players to skate for Nashville this season).
• Colin Wilson has gone pointless in no more than three consecutive games this season. A season ago, he was scoreless in seven, eight and nine game spans.
• 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.
• With nine 10-goal scorers, the Predators are second in the Western Conference and tied for second in the League for the most players with at least 10 goals this season. Detroit leads the League with 10 players with at least 10 goals.
• The Predators lead the League in winning percentage (.716) in one and two goal games. They rank in the League’s Top 10 teams in one-goal games (14-6-5) 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 55 games (32 wins), going 14-1-2 in those contests. Nashville is also 14-4-1 when tied at the first intermission.
• In its last 17 games, Nashville has outscored its opponent 22-15 in the first period.
• Nashville has allowed just nine second period goals in its last 19 outings. The team’s 35 goals allowed in the middle frame is the lowest total in the League. Boston is second with 37 second period goals against.
• The Predators rank among the League’s top five in third-period scoring this season. Nashville has potted 62 goals in the final frame this season, including 37 goals in its last 30 third periods. Twenty of Nashville’s goals have come in the final 100 seconds of regulation, including three extra-attacker goals, and five more game-winners.