BOURQUE’S BIG DEBUT
Rookie forward Gabriel Bourque notched two goals in his NHL playoff debut on Wednesday in Game One making him just the third player in the last 14 playoff years to score two goals in his NHL postseason debut; the others were Alexander Radulov in 2007 and Washington’s Mike Green in 2008. He tallied his first goal at 12:29 of the second period when he tipped a Matt Halischuk shot past goaltender Jimmy Howard to put the Predators up 2-1, then scored the eventual game-winner just past the midway point of the final frame.
Bourque has been impressive in both his professional playoff debuts. In his American Hockey League playoff debut a season ago with the Milwaukee Admirals, Bourque tallied five points (2g-3a) in Game One of the club’s Western Conference Semifinals series against the Texas Stars (April 14, 2011).
SPALING IN THE CLUTCH Nick Spaling notched an assist on Bourque’s game-winner in Game One of the series on Wednesday. He has now posted at least an assist on four of Nashville’s last five postseason game-winning goals dating back to Game Five of the Predators’ Western Conference Quarterfinals series against Anaheim last season. He notched the primary assist on Matt Halischuk’s double-overtime game-winner in Game Two of Nashville’s Western Conference Semifinals series against Vancouver last season. Prior to that he record two goals – including the game-winner – as Nashville defeated the Ducks in Game Six of the 2011 Western Conference Quarterfinals. His goal secured the Predators first-ever playoff series win. In Game Five against Anaheim, he helped set up Jerred Smithson’s overtime game-winner as the Predators’ recorded their first postseason overtime victory and first Game Five win. Spaling has now posted seven points (2g-5a) in his last nine postseason contests.
PEKKA IN THE PLAYOFFS
On Wednesday night, Pekka Rinne turned aside 35-of-37 shots on goal to record his ninth career postseason victory. His 37 shots against were the second‐highest of his playoff career – he faced 47 shots in Game Three of the Western Conference Semifinals vs. Vancouver last season (May 3, 2011). Rinne continued his solid performance in games where he makes at least 35 saves; during the regular season, he went 14-0-2 when making 35 saves or more.
The Kempele, Finland native is the franchise’s all-time leader in nearly every postseason goaltending category including games played (19) and wins (nine). He posted a franchise-record for goals-against average in a series (1.94) along with a .932 save percentage in the Western Conference Semifinals vs. Vancouver. Dating back to Game One of Nashville’s series against the Canucks, Rinne has turned aside 212-of-227 shots against (.933).
PLAYOFF QUICK HITS
• This is the third Western Conference Quarterfinals series between Nashville and Detroit. The Red Wings have won both of the previous series – 4-2 in 2004 and 4-2 in 2008. Nashville has played more playoff games (13) against Detroit that any other teams in their seven trips to the postseason.
• Ten of the 13 postseason games between the Predators and Red Wings have been decided by two goals or fewer.
• Nashville is returning 14 players from last season’s playoff team – Erat, Fisher, Halischuk, Hornqvist, Klein, Sergei Kostitsyn, Legwand, Lindback, Rinne, Spaling, Suter, Tootoo, Weber and Wilson. Francis Bouillon was injured and did not play during the 2011 playoffs.
• Martin Erat is tied with Legwand for the most career postseason assists (12) in club history. He ranks second to David Legwand in points (19), goals (7) and games played (37).
• Mike Fisher led all Predators with six points (3g-3a) against the Ducks in the Western Conference Quarterfinals last year. He finished the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs with seven points (3g-4a). Fisher leads all Predators with 35 career postseason points (17g-18a).
• Hal Gill – who missed Game One – ranks sixth among active defensemen in postseason games played. He has skated in 105 career playoff games, making him the most experienced Predator in the postseason. Sixty-nine of those games have come in the past four seasons.
• Legwand is the Predators’ franchise leader in every postseason offensive category; he has posted 22 points (10g-12a) in 38 postseason games with Nashville. Legwand posted nine points (6g-3a) during the playoffs last season, including a four-game points streak (4g-1a) to close out Nashville’s Western Conference Semifinals series with Vancouver.
• Ryan Suter (30gp) and Shea Weber (30gp) have each taken the ice in every Predators’ playoff game over the last three seasons – they are the only players to do so.