TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. COLORADO
Nashville and Colorado face off for the third game of their season series tonight at Bridgestone Arena. The Preds have posted a 24-20-6 record in 50 games all-time against the Avs. Nashville is 13-9-3 all-time against the Avalanche on home ice, including a 5-0-0 mark dating back to the 2009-10 season.
In their last meeting on Jan. 12, the Predators battled back from a 2-0 deficit to defeat the Avalanche 3-2 in overtime. David Legwand started the comeback at 11:02 of the second and Sergei Kostitsyn tied the game at two goals apiece just 8:48 into the final frame. Legwand netted his second goal of the game and his ninth-career overtime goal just 34 second into the sudden-death period to secure the Preds 3-2 come-from-behind victory.
Martin Erat had 10 points (4g-6a) in his last six games against Colorado… Patric Hornqvist has 12 points (6g-6a) in 11 career games against Colorado… Matt Halischuk scored his first goal as a Predator on Jan. 20, 2011 against Colorado… Shea Weber has nine points (3g-6a) in his last 10 games against Colorado… Pekka Rinne is 9-3-0 all-time against the Avalanche.
HORNQVIST HITS 20
With two goals on Tuesday against the Kings, Patric Hornqvist became the first Predators draftee to record three consecutive seasons with at least 20 goals in a Predators sweater. His two-goal effort on Tuesday was his third multi-goal game of the season and moved him atop the Predators goal-scoring list. Hornqvist has posted 13 points (8g-5a) in his last 14 outings.
Hornqvist has benefitted from playing alongside David Legwand and newly acquired winger, Andrei Kostitsyn. Legwand has seven points (2g-5a) in his last eight games, giving him 41 points (15g-26a) on the season, and tying his point total from a season ago. Kostitsyn has quickly acclimated to his new surroundings, as he pocketed his second multi-point effort (2a) in as many games on Tuesday. In three games with the Predators, the elder Kostitsyn has tallied four points (1g-3a).
As Nashville makes a push for its seventh playoff berth in the last eight seasons, they have posted a 38-21-7 record for 83 points through 66 games this season. The Predators play nine of their final 16 games against teams currently holding a playoff position. A season ago, Nashville was 33-24-9 for 75 points through 66 games. It went 11-3-2 in its final 16 games to finish the season with 99 points (fifth in the West).
The Predators will play nine of their final 16 games away from Bridgestone Arena, including four in the Pacific Time Zone, two in the Central, two in the Eastern and the final game of the regular season in the Mountain.
The month of March has been a strong one for the Predators the past two seasons; it has posted a 21-8-3 record in March since 2010. Nashville posted a franchise-record 11 wins during March 2010 (11-5-1 record) – a mark tied in January 2012 (11-2-0 record) – and went 10-3-2 in this month a season ago.
MAKING A POINT FOR THE NORRIS
With two assists on Tuesday, Ryan Suter hit the 40-point plateau (7g-33a) for just the second time in his career, putting him on pace to surpass his career-high 45 points (7g-38a) set during the 2008-09 season. Since returning from injury on Jan. 23, Suter has posted 15 points (2g-13a) in 18 games. Nashville is the only club with two defensemen who have at least 40 points this season, as Suter and defensive partner Shea Weber (14g-26a-40pts) are tied for fifth among NHL blueliners. 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 (26:36).
IN SELKE FORM Mike Fisher has been an offensive catalyst for the Predators of late, posting 25 points (12g-13a) in 27 games since Jan. 1. His 12 markers since the calendar flipped rank him among the Top 15 players in the League during that span. With 19 goals on the season, Fisher is just one marker shy of his fifth career 20-goal season. The Peterborough, Ont., native notched his 400th career point with an assist on Tuesday against Los Angeles. That helper also gave him 40 points in a season (19g-21a) for the fifth time in his career. Fisher also ranks among the League’s Top 15 players with six game-winning goals this season.
Fisher is a plus-eight on the year, despite playing against the fourth most difficult quality of competition among NHL forwards, according to the behindthenet.ca. He leads all Nashville forwards in ice time (19:10), averaging more than one minute of shorthanded ice time per game. He has potted 10 points (5g-5a) on the power play and is averaging more than two minutes of power-play ice time per game as a member of one of the League’s most potent power-play units.
HOME ICE ADVANTAGE
The Predators have gone 17-3-2 in their last 22 home games, and have only been dealt one regulation loss at Bridgestone Arena since Jan. 5 (10-1-2). Nashville ranks among the League’s best on home ice since the beginning of the 2005-06 campaign, compiling 176 home victories – ranking it second behind only Detroit (185) in that span. Nashville and Detroit are currently the only teams to post 20 home 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 18 of their 34 home games this season – that is second-highest total in franchise history and puts them on pace to break the franchise record of 20 sellouts established during the 1999-2000 campaign. Bridgestone Arena is averaging 16,604 fans per home game this season – 97 percent capacity.
• Nashville has posted a 20-7-3 record in its last 30 games, outscoring the opposition 92-67 (plus 25), despite being outshot 933-821 (minus 112). Since the run started on Dec. 28, Nashville has averaged 3.06 goals per game, while allowing just 2.23 goals per game. The current streak includes outscoring foes 76-53 at even strength; they were outscored 72-54 at even strength in the first 36 games of 2011-12.
• For the season, Nashville’s power play ranks second in the League (21.0 percent). The Preds have potted 44 man-advantage goals in 66 games this season, after posting 41 in 82 games last season.
• Nashville’s special teams are now plus-10 on the season after finishing plus-three in 2010-11. Nashville (103.4) ranks among the League’s top five teams in combined special teams play (PP%+PK%).
• Nashville is 31-5-4 when scoring three or more goals, and 30-2-1 when holding the opposition to two or less.
• The Predators are second in the NHL in winning percentage (.691) in combined one and two-goal games. They rank among the League’s Top 10 in one-goal games (17-9-7) and are tied for the NHL’s best record (12-2) in games decided by two goals.
• The Predators have 10 players who have scored 10 goals or more for them this season, tied for a League high with Detroit and Philadelphia. That doesn’t include Andrei Kostitsyn’s 13 goals – he brought 12 markers with him from Montreal.
• Pekka Rinne tied Tomas Vokoun’s franchise-record with his League-leading 36th victory of the season against Florida on March 3. Since Dec. 28, Rinne has posted a League-best 20-4-3 record with a 2.00 goals-against average and a .936 save percentage, improving to 36-14-7 on the season. He also leads the League in saves (1,657) and shots against (1,791), and ranks second in appearances (59).
• Nashville has scored 57 goals in the middle frame this season, including at least one goal in its last 13 second periods, outscoring the opposition 17-10 during that span. It has outscored the opposition by 14 in the second period (57-43) this season. That is the fifth-best differential in the League and second-best in the Western Conference behind only San Jose.
• The Predators rank among the League’s top five in third-period scoring this season. Nashville has potted 71 goals in the final frame, including 21 goals in its last 19 third periods. Twenty-one of Nashville’s 71 third-period goals have come in the final 100 seconds of regulation.
The Predators’ current roster features 15 players who were drafted and developed by the organization. Six players were acquired via trade, including 2012 trade deadline additions Paul Gaustad, Hal Gill and Andrei Kostitsyn. Two players came to Nashville as free agents, and two players were waiver pick-ups. Of the 10 players not drafted by the Preds, all but three have seen time in the Northeast Division – Mike Fisher and Brian McGrattan (OTT); Francis Bouillon, Gill and the Kostitsyn brothers (MTL); and Gaustad (BUF).
Ten current Predators hail from Canada (6 from Ont., 2 from B.C., 1 from Que., and 1 from Man.). Eight players on the current roster were born in the United States, with a total of 12 U.S.-born players seeing time at the NHL level this season. That total is second only to Buffalo, who has had 13 Americans crack their roster in 2011-12. Nashville’s roster is rounded out by two Belarusians, two Swedes, one Finn, one Czech and one Swiss-born player.
With the acquisition of Andrei Kostitsyn, Nashville became just the third club to have siblings play together this season – the others are the Sedin twins in Vancouver (Henrik and Daniel) and the Benn brothers (Jordie and Jamie) in Dallas. The Kostitsyns are the third set of siblings to play in the Predators system (Sheldon and Wade Brookbank, Mark and Mike Santorelli), but they are the only set to play together in franchise history.
Nashville’s roster has an average height of 6-foot 1.1-inches, including six players that are 6-foot 4-inches or taller – goaltenders Anders Lindback (6-6) and Pekka Rinne (6-5); defensemen Gill (6-7) and Shea Weber (6-4); and forwards Gaustad (6-5) and McGrattan (6-4). The Predators are the League’s sixth-youngest team with an average age of 27 years, 31 days.