Start Time: 8 pm CT (radio pregame starts at 7 pm CT) TV: Fox Sports Tennessee (DirecTV 644 SD, 644-1 HD; Dish 449 SD, 9519 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. COLORADO
The Predators and Avalanche both play game No. 82 of the 2011-12 season tonight at the Pepsi Center. The Preds lead the season series 3-0-0 and have posted a 25-20-6 record in 51 games all-time against the Avs. Nashville has posted an 11-11-(1)-2 record all-time in Denver, but is 10-6-1 in its last 17 trips to Colorado.
The Predators defeated the Avs, 4-2, in their last meeting on March 8, as Pekka Rinne notched his franchise-record 37th win of the season. Colorado got on the board just 1:14 into the contest, but Nashville responded later in the frame with goals from Mike Fisher and Brandon Yip – who the Predators claimed on waivers from Colorado earlier this season. Sergei Kostitsyn netted the eventual game winner with less than a minute remaining in the second. The Avs would cut the lead to one just five minutes into the third, before Martin Erat tallied an empty-net goal to secure the win for Nashville.
Martin Erat had 11 points (5g-6a) in his last seven games against the Avs… Patric Hornqvist has 12 points (6g-6a) in 12 career games against Colorado… Matt Halischuk scored his first goal as a Predator on Jan. 20, 2011 against Colorado… Shea Weber has 10 points (3g-7a) in his last 11 games against Colorado… Pekka Rinne is 10-3-0 all-time against the Avs.
IN GOOD COMPANY
The Predators have been able to cement themselves among the League’s top teams this season by using balanced scoring and a solid all-around game. The Predators find themselves alongside some perennial Stanley Cup contenders and among the League’s Top 10 in several key categories:
• 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.
• Nashville has the League’s sixth-most points, and is tied with Vancouver for fourth in Regulation/Overtime victories (42).
• Nashville is one of just three teams to post at least 40 wins in seven consecutive seasons – Detroit and San Jose are the others.
• Nashville ranks ninth in goals per game this season (2.79) and 10th in goals against (2.52). Only Boston, Detroit and Vancouver rank among the League’s Top 10 in both goals per game and goals-against per game.
• The Predators are just one of three teams to rank in the League’s Top 10 in both PP percentage (first) and PK percentage (10th). Vancouver and Pittsburgh are the only other teams to rank in the Top 10 in both categories.
SURPASSING THE CENTURY MARK
With 102 points on the season, the Predators have 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. The following season, they posted a franchise-best 110 points. The team last cracked the 100-point plateau during the 2009-10 season, when they notched 100 points. Nashville’s 696 points since the beginning of the 2005-06 season is fifth-most in the NHL, just one behind New Jersey for fourth place. The team’s 47 victories this season are tied for the third-most in franchise history – Nashville registered 47 victories during the 2009-10 season.
After a one-game break, Pekka Rinne returned to the ice on Thursday and recorded his fifth shutout of the season and first on home ice since Oct. 29 vs. Anaheim. It was also Rinne’s League-leading 43rd win of the year. Since the beginning of the 2008-09 season, he has posted the second-most shutouts (25) and tied for the sixth-most wins (137) among all goaltenders. The Kempele, Finland native also leads the League in shots against (2,143), saves (1,977) and he is tied for first in appearances (72) this season. Rinne also ranks among the NHL’s Top 10 goaltenders in save percentage (.923).
SPECIAL TEAMS PLAY
Nashville’s power play has risen to the top spot in the League (21.7 percent) after posting 10 goals in its last 14 outings dating back to March 10 vs. Detroit. The team has posted 54 PPGs in 81 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.
The Predators penalty kill has been perfect in 21 of their last 25 games – they’ve killed 54 of 60 penalties during that span (90 percent). Nashville’s PK has improved from 17th in the NHL (81.4 percent) prior to the 24-game span to 10th currently (83.5 percent). The penalty killers have also been perfect in six straight road games (13-for-13) and in eight of nine on the road since the beginning of March (20-for-21). The Predators have been shorthanded the seventh-fewest times in the League (243) and are tied for the fewest penalty minutes per game (8.5) in the League.
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 on March 31 – 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 (26:35), 20 seconds ahead of Weber (26:15), 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-19 on the season – that ranks him third among defensemen with at least 40 points this season.
• The Predators have posted a 12-6-1 vs. the Northwest Division this season.
• Nashville has posted a 29-12-4 record in its last 45 games, outscoring the opposition 135-105 (plus 30), despite being outshot 1,355-1,260 (minus 95).
• Nashville leads the Western Conference and has the League’s second-best winning percentage in games decided by one or two goals (.701).
• The Preds are 34-3-4 when scoring first – the League’s second-best winning percentage in that situation (.829).
• The Predators have scored 231 goals for the season – that is the third-highest total in club history – 272 (06-07), 259 (05-06).
• 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 is 14-0-2 this season when Pekka Rinne makes 35 saves or more this season.
• Nashville is 33-15-3 with Roman Josi in the line-up vs. 14-11-5 when he has not dressed.
• With the Predators’ victory over Dallas, Head Coach Barry Trotz – the only man to hold the position in franchise history – notched his 502nd career win, moving him past Pat Burns for 15th on the all-time wins list.
• The Predators sold out a franchise-record 25 home games this season. They finished the season with an eight-game sellout streak, which ties the franchise record set earlier this season.