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This Month in Preds History: February

by Nashville Predators / Nashville Predators

From the visits of some of the biggest names in the game, to the acquisitions of key pieces in Nashville Predators franchise history, take a look back at the Preds Month in History for February.

February 10, 2011: Preds acquire Mike Fisher

The Predators acquired Mike Fisher from the Ottawa Senators for two draft picks prior to the 2011 NHL Trade Deadline. He posted eight points in the club’s final seven regular-season contests to secure a playoff berth, then lead the team with six points in six games during the first playoff series victory in franchise history over the Anaheim Ducks.

Now a mainstay among the Preds forward corps, Fisher is signed with the club through the 2016-17 season. The centerman has been Nashville’s nominee for the King Clancy Award three times during his stay in Music City and is set to appear in his 1,000th NHL game this March. Fisher was the winner of the 2012 NHL Foundation Award and works closely with Room In The Inn, Cottage Cove Urban Ministries and Rocketown in Nashville.

February 15, 1999: Gretzky’s only appearance in Nashville

“The Great One” played just a single game in the Music City, but needed only one to show Nashville what made him the most prolific scorer in hockey history.

In his final NHL season, as a member of the New York Rangers, Wayne Gretzky assisted on five of his team’s seven goals to set a record for the most points and helpers by a Preds opponent. While the assist record has been tied and the point record has been broken since then, the sell-out crowd was awestruck by No. 99’s display of skill and anticipatory passing.

The NHL’s all-time leader in points, assists and goals set up Adam Graves at 5:10 to start the scoring, then Todd Harvey to round the first-period scoring out at 14:10. He pitched in two more helpers on goals by Graves and Kevin Stevens in the second, and finished off the contest with his 47th assist of the season on a Mathieu Schneider goal at 16:47 of the third.

Though the home team would fall by a 7-4 margin, the game was about more than simply wins and losses. For on this night, Nashville hockey fans were in the presence of greatness.

February 18, 2004: Steve Sullivan debuts with a hat trick vs. San Jose

Steve Sullivan started his tenure as a Nashville Predator with a bang, recording a hat trick and assisting on another goal to lead his new team to a 7-4 stomping of San Jose at Bridgestone Arena.

“It's the kid in me that just loves scoring goals,'' said Sullivan, acquired from Chicago less than 48 hours before his debut. “You always hope for nights like these, but they are never easy. They usually come few and far between. I'm just happy the team got the win. That was my main objective.''

New linemate Scott Walker and defenseman Marek Zidlicky assisted on the trio of goals, all of which came on the power play. All three used the outburst as a rallying cry – Walker had 10 points (2g-8a) in three games, Zidlicky pitched in six helpers in three contests, and Sullivan had his five-goal, five-assist explosion to earn NHL Offensive Player of the Week honors.

“To be relaxed and to stay calm were the big things for me in my first game,'' Sullivan said. “It was like any other game this season. I just wanted to keep things simple.''

Sullivan finished his Predators career with 263 points (100g-163a) in 317 games, and was the recipient of 2009 Masterton Trophy for perseverance and dedication to the sport. He is the only player in franchise history to record more than two hat tricks, and his 2005-06 goal total of 31 was tied for the highest ever at the time.

February 15 and 24, 2007: Forsberg acquired; scores OT winner vs. Detroit

Predators General Manager David Poile executed one of the biggest trades in franchise history, when he acquired one of the most dominating players of his era from Philadelphia – former Hart and Art Ross Trophy winner Peter Forsberg.

"Peter Forsberg is one of the NHL's most complete players and the ultimate competitor – a consistent winner who has year in and year out been a difference-maker in the Stanley Cup Playoffs," Poile said. "He strengthens our club up the middle and will provide another battle-tested, veteran voice to our dressing room. Adding a player of this caliber also sends a strong message to our fans that the Nashville Predators are prepared to compete at the highest level."

The trade sent shockwaves through the hockey community, and sent a message that the Predators were poised to compete for the Stanley Cup. The Ornskoldsvik, Sweden, native tallied 15 points (2g-13a) in 17 regular season contests and pitched in four more points in the postseason.

Possibly his biggest point in a Preds jersey came in a late-February clash with the rival Detroit Red Wings – it was his first goal, and came at the most-crucial of times.

Paul Kariya tallied the game-tying goal with 1:04 remaining in regulation, sending the fourth of eight meetings between the two teams to overtime. Just 2:11 into the extra session, Kariya found his newest linemate driving to the net, and “Foppa” redirected the game winner past Chris Osgood for a 4-3 Nashville win.

"It was an unbelievable pass by Paul," Forsberg said after the game. "I thought we battled. It was great to score my first goal and get my first points. The team played great and there was a great atmosphere in the building."

February 27, 2003: Mario Lemieux makes his only career appearance at Bridgestone Arena

The Nashville Predators were supposed to be awestruck at presence of Mario Lemieux in Bridgestone Arena, but they were too busy scoring goals to get caught up at the sight of “Le Magnifique.”

In his lone appearance in the city as a player, the Predators scored early and often, and received a 22-save effort from goaltender Tomas Vokoun en route to a 6-0 smashing of the Pittsburgh Penguins for their second consecutive white-washing.

“This was another step for us,” former Head Coach Barry Trotz said. “Wayne Gretzky came to our building and we were in total awe of him – he had five points and they beat us. Mario continues to amaze me, but we did an outstanding job of keeping him in check.”

Captain Greg Johnson paced the squad offensively with two goals and an assist, while Vokoun tied a franchise record for goalie victories in a season with 23 – a mark he would shatter in 2005-06 with 36 wins. With the win Nashville improved to 7-1-0 in their previous eight games, and tied the franchise record with their sixth-straight home victory.

“We've been playing well for a long period,” Trotz said. “I just think we have stayed focused. The biggest thing we have to do right now is not get too full of ourselves.”

February 28, 2009 – Preds set franchise margin of victory record against Detroit

Only 10 days removed from a disheartening 6-2 loss to Detroit at Joe Louis Arena, the Predators avenged the loss in a big way with an 8-0 rout of the defending Stanley Cup Champions at Bridgestone Arena. The victory was Nashville’s fourth-straight win and set a franchise record for margin of victory which still stands today. The Predators came out of the gate strong by scoring five first-period goals in a six-minute span including two goals within 29 seconds of each other. Each goal was scored by a different player with Ville Koistinen, David Legwand, Joel Ward, Antti Pihlstrom and Jason Arnott all netting opening-frame markers. The fast start marked the first time in franchise history that the Predators notched five first-period goals.

Steve Sullivan and J-P Dumont teamed up to deliver assists on each of the final three goals to cap the blowout. Arnott was on the receiving end of two of those assists as he buried his second and third goals of the game at 14:13 in the second period and 13:16 in the third. With his second of three goals, Arnott became the first player in franchise history to score 25 or more goals in a season three times. The third goal capped Arnott’s eighth career hat trick. Shea Weber scored on a slapshot from just a few feet inside the blue line at 8:45 in the third period to finish the scoring.

The victory and capped a month that saw the Predators post 10 wins, the third 10-win month in franchise history to that point.

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