TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. LOS ANGELES
Tonight, the Predators and Kings square off for the second game of their season series and first in the Music City. The Predators are 21-22-(3)-3 all-time against the Kings, including an 8-13-3 mark on Bridgestone ice. Los Angeles is the only team the Predators have a winning record against on the road (13-9-(0)-3) but a losing record against at home. The Kings will return just eight days from now to close out the Nashville-based portion of the series.
In their first match-up of the season, the game was knotted at two goals a piece after the first on Nashville markers from Matt Halischuk and Craig Smith. Los Angeles rebounded in the second, scoring two straight to pull ahead 4-2. Patric Hornqvist would add a late goal in the third, but the Kings prevailed 4-3 at the Staples Center.
Kostitsyn has six points (1g-5a) in six career games against the Kings (He did not play in the Nov. 8 game)… Ryan Suter has posted four helpers in his last four games against the Kings… Hornqvist has seven points (4g-3a) in 11 career outings vs. Los Angeles… Shea Weber has amassed 12 points (5g-7a) in 17 games against L.A… Martin Erat has 15 points (2g-13a) in his last 14 games vs. Los Angeles, including a career-high four assists in a 4-3 overtime win on March 28, 2009. Overall, the Trebic, Czech Republic native has 24 points (4g-20a) in 32 career contests against the Kings.
A CAREER NIGHT
On Saturday night, the Predators posted six goals for third time this season and the first time on home ice. The game also saw five players reach career numbers. Kevin Klein tied his career high in goals with his fourth of the season to close out a three-goal first period for the Predators. He is now just three points shy of tying his career-high point total (18) set a season ago. Jordin Tootoo continued his career pace with two assists on the night, giving him 22 helpers on the season. That total has nearly doubled his previous career high in assists (12, 2008-09). Colin Wilson posted his fifth multi-point game of the season (1g-1a), including his career-high 19th assist. Nick Spaling notched his career-best 10th goal of the season, becoming the Predators 10th 10-goal scorer in 2011-12. Finally, rookie defenseman Roman Josi notched his first career multiple-point effort with two assists on the night.
NASHVILLE’S VEZINA CANDIDATE Pekka Rinne posted a career high in wins with his League-leading 34th victory of the season against San Jose on Saturday night. That total is tied for the second highest total in franchise history (Tomas Vokoun, 2003-04) and just two wins shy of tying Vokoun’s franchise-record 36 wins set during the in 2005-06 season. Since Dec. 28, Rinne has posted a League-best 18-3-3 record with a 1.93 goals-against average and a .937 save percentage, improving to 34-13-7 on the season. He leads the League in saves (1,569), shots against (1,696) and is tied for first in appearances (56).
NASHVILLE POSTS AN 18-5-3 RECORD IN ITS LAST 26
Nashville has posted an 18-5-3 record in its last 26 games, outscoring the opposition 80-56 (plus 24), despite being out shot 801-715 (minus 86). In its last 26 games, it has averaged 3.07 goals per game, while allowing just 2.15 goals per game. Those totals have pushed Nashville’s goals per game average from 2.60 prior to the stretch to 2.79 (10th) currently, while its goals-against average has fallen from 2.80 to 2.52 (ninth). The Predators’ current streak includes outscoring foes 64-44 at even strength; they were outscored 72-54 at even strength in the first 36 games of 2011-12.
HOME ICE ADVANTAGE
Entering tonight’s game the Predators have won 16 of their last 20 home games, going 16-2-2 in that span. Additionally, the Preds have not been dealt a regulation loss at Bridgestone Arena in 11 contests (9-0-2). Nashville ranks among the League’s best on home ice since the beginning of the 2005-06 campaign, compiling 175 home victories – ranking it second behind only Detroit (184) in that span. Nashville and Detroit are currently the only teams to post 20 wins in each of the last seven seasons.
A factor in the Predators’ success has been the atmosphere in Bridgestone Arena. The Predators have sold out Smashville for 17 of their 32 home games this season – that total is tied for the second-highest in franchise history (1998-99) and puts them on pace to break the franchise record of 20 sellouts established during the 1999-2000 campaign. Bridgestone Arena is averaging 16,617 fans per home game this season – 97.1 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.
The defensive pairing of Ryan Suter and Shea Weber continues its all-star caliber play on the Predators blue line. Since returning from injury on Jan. 23, Suter has posted 12 points (2g-10a) in 14 games. For the season, he ranks seventh among NHL blueliners with 37 points (7g-30a), putting him on pace to surpass his career-high 45 points (7g-38a) set during the 2008-09 season. The Madison, Wis., native is third among NHL blueliners in power-play points and assists (3g-19a-22pts), and ranks fourth in the League in average ice time (26:37), 16 seconds ahead of Weber (26:21), who ranks fifth.
In his last 42 games, Weber has 32 points (13g-19a). He notched his second two-goal game of the season – including his League-leading eighth power-play goal – on Saturday. He ranks second in team scoring (14g-26a-40pts) – his fourth consecutive season with at least 40 points. He is tied for first among NHL defensemen in goals (14), is third in points (40) by a d-man, and fourth in shots on goal (172). He also ranks among the League’s Top 10 d-men in power-play points (8g-10a-17pts) and plus/minus (+17). He is also the only blueliner to post multiple shorthanded goals (2) this season. Since Oct. 25, Weber has not gone more than two games without a point.
ERAT-FISHER-KOSTITSYN LINE POWERS PREDS
The line of Martin Erat, Mike Fisher and Sergei Kostitsyn continues to be the driving force behind the Predators’ offense of late. Since the calendar flipped to 2012, Fisher has posted 23 points (11g-12a) in 23 games, and his 11 markers since the first of the year rank among the NHL’s Top 15 players. He has 38 points (18g-20a) on the season and is just one goal shy of matching his total from a season ago. For the season, Nashville is 21-2-3 when Fisher records a point and 11-0-3 when he scores a goal.
Erat has posted 23 points (6g-17a) since Jan. 1 (24gp) following his 15th multi-point game (1g-1a) of the year against San Jose. It was also the franchise-high 102nd multi-point outing of his career. Erat’s 17 helpers during that span rank among the League’s Top 15 players. The Trebic, Czech Republic native’s 32 assists on the season are just one shy of his total in two of the previous three seasons (33 in both 2010-11 and 2008-09) and more than he posted during his 2009-10 campaign (28). He leads the team with 46 points on the year – his eighth consecutive season with at least 40 points. Nashville is now 11-0-1 when Erat scores.
Since the first of the year, Kostitsyn has notched 20 points (10g-10a) in 23 games. His 10 goals during that span have come on 31 shots (32.2 percent), and he ranks among the NHL’s top players in shooting percentage (23.1 percent).
• Last week, Nashville faced three teams (Vancouver, St. Louis and San Jose) that began the week ahead of the fifth-place Predators in the Western Conference standings. Nashville took five of a possible six points in those three games (2-0-1).
• Nashville’s power play has scored 17 man-advantage goals in its last 22 games. For the season, Nashville’s power play ranks first in the League (21.7 percent). The Preds have potted 44 man-advantage goals in 62 games this season, after posting 41 in 82 games a season ago.
• Nashville’s special teams are now plus-12 on the season after finishing plus-three in 2010-11. Nashville (104.2) ranks among the League’s top five teams in combined special teams play (PP%+PK%).
• Mike Fisher leads the team in home points with 29 (10g-19a) in 30 games this season.
• Nashville is 30-3-4 when scoring three or more goals, and 28-2-1 when holding the opposition to two or less.
• In their 36 victories this season (33 non-shootout wins), the Predators have received game-winning goals from 15 different players, tying them with Vancouver and Colorado for the second-most players with a GWG. St. Louis leads the League with 16 players. Fifteen of Nashville’s GWGs have come in the third period or overtime, with 11 coming in the final eight minutes of regulation or overtime.
• The Predators are now tied with Detroit and Philadelphia for the League lead with 10 players with at least 10 goals.
• The Predators lead the League in winning percentage (.709) in combined one and two-goal games. They rank among the League’s Top 10 teams in one-goal games (16-7-7) and have posted the League’s best record (11-2) in games decided by two goals.
• Nashville has earned at least a point in all four games Hal Gill has played since being acquired on Feb. 17 (3-0-1).
• In his last 101 regular season games dating back to Dec. 1, 2010, Martin Erat has posted 90 points (29g-61a).
• The Predators are 25-2-3 when scoring first, ranking them among the top five in the League. They have led after one period in just 20 of 62 games (36 wins), going 17-1-2 in those contests.
• Nashville has outscored the opposition by 14 in the second period (52-38) this season. That is second-best in the Western Conference behind only San Jose. Nashville has allowed just 12 second-period goals in its last 26 outings. The team’s 38 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 68 goals in the final frame this season, including 18 goals in its last 15 third periods. Twenty-one of Nashville’s 68 third-period goals have come in the final 100 seconds of regulation.