TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. DETROIT
Tonight, the Predators make their second appearance of the season in the Motor City. Nashville has taken three of its last five trips to Detroit dating back to April 3, 2010.
In the most recent contest, the Wings took home a 4-1 win the day after Christmas. Jonathon Blum netted the lone goal for the Predators at the 17:48 mark of the third. Ryan Ellis made his NHL debut after being recalled earlier that day. Eleven days prior, on Dec. 15, the game was tied at one after David Legwand’s first period marker. The Wings jumped out to a 3-1 lead midway through the second frame, but Nashville responded in the final 23 minutes, beginning with Jordin Tootoo’s goal at the 17:22 mark of the second period. Then, Captain Shea Weber ignited in the final 4:46, tallying a power-play goal to pull the Predators even. Weber found the back of the net less than three minutes later completing his seventh career two-goal game, as Nashville defeated the Red Wings, 4-3.
These teams opened their 2011-12 season series on Nov. 26 in Motown. The Wings jumped out to a 4-0 lead before Jack Hillen responded with his first goal in a Predators sweater at 5:34 of the third period to cut the final margin to 4-1. Pekka Rinne made 33 saves for Nashville in its second game of a five-game road swing. Roman Josi made his NHL debut for the Predators after being recalled the day prior.
Rinne has gone 9-4-3 in his career against the Wings with a 2.41 goals-against average and three shutouts … Sergei Kostitsyn has eight points (5g-3a) in his last nine games against the Red Wings. His two-point performance (1g-1a) on Feb. 9, 2011 put him over the century mark in points for his career… Ryan Suter has seven points (1g-6a) in his last seven games against Detroit… Weber notched his 200th career point with an assist vs. Detroit on Feb. 9, 2010… Ellis is expected to make his Joe Louis Arena debut, just across the river from where he starred with the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires from 2007-11. He is just the third defenseman in Ontario Hockey League history to record 300 career points (73g-241a-314pts, +145, 207 PIMs, 226 gp), joining Rick Corriveau (329) and Denis Potvin (330), and finished his junior career ranked second all-time in Spitfires scoring behind Bill Bowler (467). He helped the Spits to back-to-back Memorial Cups in 2009 and 2010, and was named 2011 Canadian Hockey League Player and Defenseman of the Year, in addition to winning a pair of Max Kaminsky Trophies as the League’s Most Outstanding Defenseman of the Year.
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’ offense of late. Since the calendar flipped to 2012, Erat (5g-14a) and Fisher (10g-9a) have both notched 19 points in their last 19 games, which ranks them among the NHL’s Top 15 during that span. Erat’s 14 helpers since Jan. 1 rank him among the League’s top five players. The Trebic, Czech Republic native leads the team with 42 points on the year – his eighth consecutive season with at least 40 points. In his last 97 regular season games dating back to Dec. 1, 2010, Erat has posted 86 points (28g-58a).
Fisher is also now tied with Patric Hornqvist for the lead the team in goals (17) in 2011-12, and his 10 since the first of the year rank among the NHL’s Top 10. For the season, the Predators are 19-2-3 when Fisher records a point and 10-0-3 when he scores a goal.
Sergei Kostitsyn has notched 17 points (9g-8a) in his last 19 games. He has nine goals on his last 26 shots (34.6 percent), and ranks among the League leaders in shooting percentage (23.3 percent). With nine goals since Jan. 1, he is currently tied for 11th among the League’s top goal scorers in that span.
PREDATORS POST A 15-4-2 RECORD IN THEIR LAST 21 GAMES
Nashville has posted a 15-4-2 record in its last 21 games, outscoring the opposition 65-47, despite being out shot 655-597 (minus 58). In its last 21 games, it has averaged 3.09 goals per game, while allowing just 2.23 goals per game. The Predators’ current streak includes outscoring foes 53-35 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 2.77 (T-11th) currently, while its goals-against average has fallen from 2.80 to 2.58 (T-10th).
The defensive pairing of Ryan Suter and Shea Weber continues their All-Star presence along the Predators’ blue line. Suter posted his seventh goal of the season on Tuesday against Chicago; he is now one marker shy of tying his career-high (8) set during 2006-07 season. That goal also moved Suter into a tie for 10th (Cliff Ronning) on the franchise’s all-time scoring list with 226 career-points (38g-188a). The Madison, Wis., native ranks among the League’s top five players in average ice time (26:40), and is tied for third among NHL blueliners in power-play points (3g-16a-19pts). Since returning from injury on Jan. 23, Suter has posted nine points (2g-7a) in his last nine outings, and is a plus-five in those games. He ranks sixth among NHL blueliners with 34 points (7g-27a) this season, and his on pace to surpass his career-high 45 points (7g-38a) set during the 2008-09 season.
On the other side, Weber has posted a plus-nine rating in his last 11 outings, and he currently ranks among the League’s Top 10 defensemen in plus/minus for the season (+20). In his last 37 games, Weber has 29 points (10g-19a), putting him second in team scoring (11g-26a-37pts). He is third among NHL defensemen in goals (11), second in power-play goals (6) and fifth in points (37). Since Oct. 25, Weber has not gone more than two games without a point.
NASHVILLE’S VEZINA CANIDATE Pekka Rinne has posted a 15-2-2 record with a 1.97 goals-against average and a .937 save percentage in his last 19 decisions, improving to 31-12-6 on the season – the second-most wins in the League behind only Jimmy Howard. He ranks second in the League in saves (1,432), shots against (1,550) and appearances (51).
Rinne recently posted a franchise record 11-game win streak from Jan. 7-Feb. 4 – matching 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).
• Nashville is 13-2-2 against the Central Division this season, giving it the League’s best point percentage (.823) in intra-divisional games. The team is also 27-13-3 against the Western Conference this season.
• Nashville’s power play has scored 14 man-advantage goals in its last 17 games. For the season, Nashville’s power play ranks second in the League (21.5 percent). The Preds have already matched their power-play output from a season ago, scoring 41 power-play goals through 57 games this season. Last year, the Predators posted 41 man-advantage markers in 82 contests.
• Nashville’s special teams are now plus-eight on the season after finishing plus-three in 2010-11. Nashville (103.2) ranks among the League’s Top teams in combined special teams play (PP%+PK%).
• Nashville is 27-3-4 when scoring three or more goals, and 25-1-1 when holding the opposition to two or less.
• In their 33 victories this season (30 non-shootout wins), the Predators have received game-winning goals from 15 different players, tied with St. Louis for the most players with a GWG. 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.
• Nashville has scored 30 game-winning goals this season. Fifteen of those goals have come in the third period or overtime, with 11 coming in the final eight minutes of regulation or overtime.
• With nine 10-goal scorers, the Predators are tied for second in the League with Philadelphia 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 (.717) in one and two goal games (combined). They rank in the League’s Top 10 teams in one-goal games (15-6-6) and have posted the League’s best record (10-2) in games decided by two goals.
• The Predators are 23-2-3 when scoring first, ranking among the top five the League. They have led after one period in just 18 of 57 games (33 wins), going 15-1-2 in those contests. Nashville is also 15-4-1 when tied at the first intermission.
• Nashville has allowed just nine second-period goals in its last 21 outings. The team’s 35 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 65 goals in the final frame this season, including 15 goals in its last 11 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.