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On Friday night, the Predators compiled their highest shot total of the 2012 postseason as they fired 42 shots on goal. It was the Predators highest number of shots since firing 46 shots in their double-overtime win vs. Vancouver in the 2011 Western Conference Semifinals (April 30, 2011).
Nashville’s plus-18 shot advantage in Game One was the largest in franchise history away from Bridgestone Arena and was just three shots shy of the overall franchise record of plus-21 set in Game Three of the 2011 WCS vs. Anaheim (NSH 37, ANA 16). The Predators’ 42 shots included 16 shots in the final frame – which ties the franchise record for a single period – as the team scored late in the period to force overtime. Nashville limited Phoenix to just one shot on goal in the third period, giving the team a plus-15 shot advantage in the frame. Those totals set franchise postseason records for fewest shots against in a period, and single period shot advantage.
Patric Hornqvist fired a team-high eight shots on goal, just one shot shy of his franchise-record nine shots in Game Two of the 2011 WCQ vs. Anaheim. Alexander Radulov and Nick Spaling were the only Preds skaters who did not register a shot in Game One.
BOULLION COMES UP BIG Francis Bouillon posted assists on the Predators first two goals on Friday night. Bouillon’s two points/assists tied the franchise record for most points and assists by a defenseman in a single playoff game. It was his first postseason multiple point game since April 30, 2008, when he posted two assists vs. Philadelphia as a member of the Montreal Canadiens. He has three points (3a) this postseason – matching his career-high hit in both the 2006 (1g-2a) and 2008 (1g-2a) playoff years.
The 5-8, 2001-pound defenseman now leads the NHL playoffs in plus/minus rating (+8) after going +2 in Game One. He is one of three Predators to rank in the League’s top five in the category – David Legwand (+5) and Gabriel Bourque (+5) are the others. Bouillon set franchise record for the highest plus/minus rating in a series after finishing +6 in the WCQ vs. Detroit.
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.
• David Legwand has nine points (6g-3a) in his last 10 postseason outings dating back to Nashville’s 2011 WCS series vs. Vancouver. Legwand is Nashville’s all-time leader in postseason goals (12), assists (14), points (26), plus/minus (+9) and games played (43).
• Martin Erat ranks second to Legwand on the franchise’s all-time playoff points (22), goals (8) and games played (42) 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).
• In his last 12 playoff games over his last two series (2011 and 2012), Pekka Rinne has allowed 26 goals in 775:20 minutes of work for a 2.01 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage.
• Alexander Radulov has five points (1g-4a) in six games this postseason. Radulov set a playoff franchise record with assists in four straight games from Game Two thru Five of the WCQ vs. Detroit.
• Ryan Suter (35gp) and Shea Weber (35gp) 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.
2011-12 SEASON SERIES VS. PHOENIX AT A GLANCE
The Predators and Coyotes are facing each other for the first time in the postseason. During the 2011-12 regular season series, the visiting team won each game as Nashville and Phoenix split the 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.
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 two awards finalists left to be announced on Monday.
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. 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 6-5 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.