TONIGHT’S STORYLINES VS. DALLAS
Tonight, the Stars make their final trip of the 2011-12 season to the Music City take on the Predators at Bridgestone Arena. Nashville is 6-5-0 on home ice since the 2006-07 season and is 13-11-1 all-time against the Stars in the Music City.
The Predators and Stars last met on Feb. 19 in the Lone Star State, as the Preds edged the Stars 3-2 to split the Dallas portion of the season series, 1-1. Gabriel Bourque opened the scoring for Nashville at the 15:39 mark of the first, tying the game at one goal apiece. Shea Weber then played buzzer beater, as he notched a power-play goal with one second remaining in the opening frame. Colin Wilson widened the Predators lead to two goals with less than four minutes remaining in the second. Pekka Rinne turned away 10-of-11 Dallas shots in the third to take home the victory.
Brandon Yip has eight points (4g-4a) in nine career games against Dallas… Wilson has six points (4g-2a) in his last seven games against Dallas… Mike Fisher – who missed the last game vs. Dallas – has nine points (5g-4a) in 15 career games against the Stars. He also took his first career penalty shot at Dallas on Dec. 5, 2001, against Marty Turco, and scored… Patric Hornqvist fired a career-high/franchise-record 14 shots on goal on Dec. 28, 2010. He recorded his first NHL goal against Dallas (Turco) on Oct. 15, 2008, in his second career game.
PREDS HIT THE CENTURY MARK
With their 2-1 shootout win over Minnesota on Tuesday, the Predators eclipsed the 100-point mark for the fourth time in franchise history. Nashville’s first100-plus point campaign came in 2005-06, when they notched 106 points on the year. The following season, the Predators posted a franchise-best 110 points. The team last cracked the 100-point plateau during the 2009-10 season, when they notched 100 points on the year. Nashville’s 694 points since the beginning of the 2005-06 season is fifth-most in the NHL, just one behind New Jersey for fourth place.
Nashville is just one of five teams to make the postseason in seven of the last eight seasons – Detroit, New Jersey, Philadelphia, San Jose are the others. The team’s 46 victories this season are the fourth-most in franchise history, just one victory shy of tying the third-most (47) set during the 2009-10 season. Nashville is one of three teams to post at least 40 wins in seven consecutive seasons – Detroit and San Jose are the others. The Preds hit the 40-win mark in just 68 games this season – the third fastest in franchise history.
TROTZ TIES PAT BURNS
With the Predators’ victory over Minnesota on Tuesday, Head Coach Barry Trotz – the only man to hold the position in franchise history – notched his 501st career win, moving him into a tie with Pat Burns for 15th on the all-time wins list. The win also pushed Trotz past Toe Blake (500) for third in wins with a single franchise.
HOME ICE ADVANTAGE
Nashville has been one of the League’s best teams on home ice since the beginning of the 2005-06 season, compiling 180 home victories – ranking it third behind only Detroit (189) and San Jose (181) in that span. The Predators are the only team in the NHL to post at least 23 home victories in seven consecutive seasons.
The Predators have gone 21-5-2 in their last 27 home games. The Predators have sold out Bridgestone Arena for seven consecutive games leading into tonight, just one sellout shy of matching the franchise-long eight game sellout streak hit earlier this season (Dec.15-Jan. 7). The Predators have already set a franchise record with 23 sellouts this season – surpassing the previous record of 20 sellouts established during the 1999-2000 campaign. Bridgestone Arena is averaging 16,680 fans per home game this season – 97.4 percent capacity.
NASHVILLE’S NORRIS CANDIDATES
As the Predators ready themselves for the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the defensive pairing of Ryan Suter and Shea Weber continues its all-star caliber play on the Predators blue line. The duo is the only defensive tandem in the NHL to post at least 45 points apiece this season.
Suter has already posted a career-high 46 points (7g-39a) on the season, surpassing his previous highs in points and assists (7g-38a-45pts) set in 2008-09. Those totals are tied for eighth among NHL blueliners this season. Suter notched his 200th career assist against Chicago last Saturday – becoming just the fourth player in franchise history to hit the mark. The Madison, Wis., native is third among NHL blueliners in power-play points and assists (3g-22a-25pts), and ranks third in the League in average ice time (26:38), 20 seconds ahead of Weber (26:18), who ranks fifth.
Weber is now just one point shy of cracking the 50-point plateau for the second time in his career. The Sicamous, B.C., native ranks sixth among blueliners with 49 points on the year (19g-30a), while his 19 goals are tied with Erik Karlsson for first among d-men. He is just one marker shy of becoming the fifth Predator ever to post 100 career goals. Weber has already posted a career-high 22 power-play points (10g-12a) this season – he ranks among the Top 10 d-men in power-play points and leads all NHL d-men with 10 PPGs on the year, which ties his career high (2008-09). Weber is now plus-18 on the season – that ranks him sixth among defensemen with at least 40 points this season.
SPECIAL TEAMS PLAY
Nashville’s power play has risen to the top spot in the League (21.9 percent) after posting 10 goals in its last 13 outings dating back to March 10 vs. Detroit. The Preds have also tallied on six of their last 13 home power-play attempts (46.1 percent). The team has posted 54 PPGs in 80 games this season, after scoring 41 PPGs a season ago. The Predators have seven players – not including trade deadline acquisition Andrei Kostitsyn – with five or more power-play goals this season – the most of any team in the NHL.
Last night, the Predators penalty kill was perfect for the 20th time in their last 24 games – they’ve killed 50 of 56 penalties during that span (89.2 percent). Nashville’s PK has improved from 17th in the NHL (81.4 percent) prior to the 24-game span to 10th currently (83.3 percent). The Predators have been shorthanded the sixth-fewest times in the League (239) and are tied for the fewest penalty minutes per game (8.5) in the League.
The Predators are now just one of three teams to rank in the League’s Top 10 in both PP percentage and PK percentage – Vancouver and Pittsburgh are the others. Nashville’s special teams are plus-16 on the season after finishing plus-three in 2010-11. Nashville (105.2) ranks among the League’s top five teams in combined special teams play (PP%+PK%).
• Nashville has posted a 28-12-4 record in its last 44 games, outscoring the opposition 133-105 (plus 28), despite being outshot 1,327-1,229 (minus 98).
• Nashville is one of only four teams to rank in the League’s Top 10 in both goals per game and goals-against per game – Boston, Detroit and Vancouver are the others.
• The Predators are 33-3-4 when scoring first – the League’s second-best winning percentage in that situation (.825).
• The Predators have scored 229 goals for the season – that is the fourth-highest total in club history – 272 (06-07), 259 (05-06), 230 (07-08).
• With 42 victories on the year, Pekka Rinne holds the franchise record and leads the League in the category. He also leads the League in saves (1,949), shots against (2,115), and ranks second in appearances (71). Nashville is 14-0-2 this season when Rinne makes 35 saves or more.
• Nashville improved to 32-15-3 with Roman Josi in the line-up – they are 14-11-5 when he has not dressed.