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2011-12 SEASON SERIES VS. PHOENIX AT A GLANCE
The Predators and Coyotes will go head-to-head for the first time in the postseason as they open their Western Conference Semifinals series on Friday at Jobing.com Arena. The visiting team won each game as Nashville and Phoenix split the regular season series. Here is how the four-game 2011-12 slate played out:
OCT. 13, 2011 (NSH 2, PHX 5) – It was the home opener for the Predators, but the Coyotes stole the show with a 5-2 victory. Ryan Suter – who scored his first-career shorthanded goal – and Colin Wilson scored Nashville’s two goals, while David Legwand notched two assists on the night.
NOV. 3, 2011 (NSH 3, PHX 0) – Pekka Rinne – celebrating his 29th birthday – signed the largest contract in Nashville's history earlier that afternoon, and then capped off the day by shutting out the Coyotes in Glendale. That victory gave Rinne four career shutouts against the Coyotes – more than he has against any other team. Patric Hornqvist scored for a fourth straight game, while Jonathon Blum and Matt Halischuk added goals for the Preds.
DEC. 6, 2011 (NSH 2, PHX 3) – Phoenix claimed the Nashville portion of the season series with a 3-2 win on a goal from Keith Yandle at 1:45 of the third. Jack Hillen – who was playing in his 200th career game – and Shea Weber scored for Nashville.
MARCH 12, 2012 (NSH 5, PHX 4) – Nashville pulled out the 5-4 shootout win to split the season series with Phoenix. Martin Erat got the Preds on the board with just 29 second remaining in the first. The teams traded goals in the middle frame, as Mike Fisher and Francis Bouillon tallied for the Preds. It was Bouillon’s first goal in 87 games – his previous goal came against the Coyotes on Nov. 3, 2010 at Jobing.com Arena. Craig Smith extended the Preds lead early in the third, but Phoenix tallied twice in the final 13 minutes to force overtime. Andrei Kostitsyn tallied on the first shot in the shootout, while Rinne turned away all three Coyote shooters to record his 39th win of the season.
REGULAR SEASON QUICK HITS VS. PHOENIX
• Since the start of the 2003-04 campaign the Predators are 18-11-(1)-2 against Phoenix, while posting an 8-7-2 mark at Jobing.com Arena.
• Martin Erat led all Predators with four points (1g-3a) against Phoenix this season. He leads Nashville all-time with 22 points (9g-13a) in 32 games vs. the Coyotes.
• Patric Hornqvist has 10 points (6g-4a) in 12 career contests vs. Phoenix
• David Legwand (3a), Sergei Kostitsyn (3a) and Craig Smith (1g-2a) all had three points in four games vs. the Coyotes in 2011-12.
• Pekka Rinne is 8-5-0 with a 2.05 goals-against average. .931 save percentage and four shutouts in 14 career games against Phoenix.
• Nashville’s penalty kill went seven for seven in the four games against the Coyotes this season.
PLAYOFF QUICK HITS
• This is the Predators second consecutive trip to the Western Conference Semifinals. They fell to Vancouver in the 2011 WCS (4-2), after defeating the Anaheim Ducks in the WCQ to advance in the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.
• 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.
• David Legwand has notched nine points (6g-3a) in his last nine postseason outings dating back to Nashville’s 2011 WCS series vs. Vancouver. Legwand is Nashville all-time leader in postseason goals (12), assists (14), points (26), plus/minus (+9) and games played (42).
• Martin Erat ranks second to Legwand on the franchise’s all-time playoff points (21), goals (7) and games played (41) lists. He is tied with Legwand for the most assists (14) in franchise postseason history.
• Mike Fisher leads all Predators with 37 career postseason points (17g-20a). He posted 28 points (14g-14a) in 75 postseason games with Ottawa.
• In his last 11 playoff games over his last two series (2011 and 2012), Pekka Rinne has allowed 22 goals in 701:16 minutes of work for a 1.88 goals-against average.
• Alexander Radulov has five points (1g-4a) in four games this postseason.
• Hal Gill – who has missed the WCQ series vs. Detroit – is tied for eighth 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.
• Ryan Suter (34gp) and Shea Weber (34gp) have each taken the ice in every Predators’ playoff game over the team’s last four trips to the postseason – they are the only players to do so.
WESTERN CONFERENCE QUARTERFINALS: NASHVILLE VS. DETROIT IN REVIEW
The Predators defeated the Red Wings (4-1) in the Western Conference Quarterfinals for the first time in franchise postseason history. The 2012 WCQ match-up was the third postseason meeting between the two Central Division rivals – with Detroit winning both of the previous series (4-2 in 2004 and 4-2 in 2008). Nashville held home ice advantage for the third time in franchise history – they also finished as the West’s No. 4 seed in 2006 and 2007.
In Game One, Paul Gaustad tallied his first-career postseason goal, and first as a Predator (regular or postseason), to open the scoring for Nashville. Gabriel Bourque tallied two goals on the night, becoming just the third player in the past 14 playoff seasons to record two goals in his NHL playoff debut. Alexander Radulov and Washington’s Mike Green are the only other players to do so. Nashville claimed the 3-2 win over Detroit, giving the team victories in back-to-back WCQ openers.
The Red Wings responded in Game Two, scoring two goals in the first 15 minutes of play. Andrei Kostitsyn scored for the Preds midway through the second, but Detroit regained the two-goal advantage just 56 seconds later. Shea Weber tallied his first goal of the playoffs late in the third; however, the Wings would hold on for the 3-2 victory.
As the series shifted to the Motor City, Weber notched his franchise-leading fourth-career postseason power-play goal early in Game Three – it was the Preds’ first power-play goal of the series. Kevin Klein extended the Nashville lead 2-0 in the second period with his fourth career postseason marker. Sergei Kostitsyn scored midway through the third as the Preds edged the Wings 3-2 at Joe Louis Arena.
Game Four was a stalemate through the first 40 minutes of play, before Bourque tallied his third goal of the series early in the final frame. Detroit tied the game less than two minutes later, but Klein – who scored goals in back-to-back games for the first time in his career (regular season and playoffs combined) – and David Legwand sealed the 3-1win for Nashville.
The Predators returned to the Music City with a chance to close out the series in Game Five. Radulov notched his first goal of the postseason in the first period, but the Wings would even the score going into the third. Just 13 seconds into the final frame, Legwand scored his second goal in as many games, as the Predators held on to defeat the Wings 2-1, taking the series.
IN THE RECORD BOOKS
Not only was the Predators’ Western Conference Quarterfinals victory over Detroit a franchise first, but several other single series franchise records were set during the opening round of the 2012 playoffs.
• Nashville won a series for the second time in franchise history and it was the first time the Preds have defeated an opponent less than six games.
• Detroit’s nine goals were the lowest goals against total in franchise postseason history. That total included allowing just three goals total in the two games at Joe Louis Arena.
• Nashville’s plus-four goal advantage (13-9) was also the largest in postseason history, including a plus-three advantage on the road.
• Though the Predator’s penalty kill surrendered four goals on 23 power-plays against, they held the Red Wings – the NHL’s best five-on-five team in the regular season – to just four goals while at full and even strength. In those situations Nashville outscored Detroit 11-4.
• The Predators tallied the fewest shots in postseason history (116), but they also allowed the fewest shots against (160) all-time.
• Pekka Rinne recorded the lowest goals-against average (1.81) and the highest save percentage (.944) in Preds postseason history.
• Gabriel Bourque tallied the most goals (3) and points (3g-1a-4pts) by a rookie in a single series in franchise history. He also posted the highest plus/minus rating (+5) by a rookie all-time.
• Francis Bouillon posted the highest single series plus/minus rating (+6) in Predators’ postseason history.
THREE PREDS NAMED AWARDS FINALISTS
President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile, goaltender Pekka Rinne and defenseman Shea Weber will all represent the Predators at the NHL Awards on June 20 in Las Vegas with several awards finalists left to be announced.
This is the third consecutive season Poile has been nominated for the General Manager of the Year Award – he is the only GM in the League to be nominated in each of the awards first three years of existence. In 2011-12, Poile continued his philosophy of building the team through the draft as 15 Predators’ draftees made up the bulk of the roster – with a franchise-record 21 draftees seeing time with the club during the season. They were complemented by six players acquired via trade, two via free agency and two via waivers. He was able to solidify the Preds’ roster at the Trade Deadline, adding Hal Gill, Andrei Kostitsyn, and Paul Gaustad and then orchestrated the late-season return of forward Alexander Radulov. Earlier in the season, Poile secured Nashville’s future between the pipes by signing 2011 and 2012 Vezina finalist Pekka Rinne to the largest contract in franchise history (7 years/$49 million). He also achieved some career milestones of his own, becoming the only GM in League history to record at least 1,000 games (Nov. 12) and at least 500 wins (March 30) with two different clubs.
Rinne earned his second consecutive nomination as a Vezina Trophy finalist, after finishing second to Boston's Tim Thomas in 2011. The 6-foot-5-inch Kempele, Finland native posted a franchise record and League-leading 43 wins after playing a career-high 73 games – no other goalie played more games this season. In addition to his 43 victories, he ranked among the NHL’s top netminders with a 2.39 goals-against average, .923 save percentage and five shutouts. Rinne led the League in shots faced (2,153) and saves (1,987), while ranking second in starts (72) and minutes played (4,168:52).
Weber is also a back-to-back award finalist after finishing second to Nicklas Lidstrom in 2011 Norris Trophy voting in the closest vote since 1993 (Chris Chelios/Ray Bourque). The Sicamous, B.C., native ranked near the top of several categories, placing sixth in scoring among all defensemen with 49 points (19g-30a), with his 19 goals tied with fellow Norris finalist Erik Karlsson for first place. Nashville’s Captain also ranked fifth in the NHL in average ice time per game (26:09), tied a career high and led all defensemen with 10 power-play goals and posted a team-leading and career-best +21 rating.