As the Nashville Predators continue to celebrate their 15th Anniversary, let's take a look back at some historical moments in Preds history that occurred in late March.
March 22-30, 2008 – Dan Ellis sets a franchise record with a shutout streak of 233:39
Having lost five of their previous six games, the Nashville Predators entered the final week of March – and their last seven games of the 2007-08 regular season – in need of strong performance to make the postseason for the fourth consecutive spring. Behind the play of rookie netminder Dan Ellis, they did just that.
Ellis, who was slated for the starting job with the American Hockey League’s Milwaukee Admirals during training camp, went 5-1-1 down the stretch, highlighted by a franchise-record shutout streak of 233:39 from March 22-30, which saw him shut out the Columbus Blue Jackets twice (March 22 and 28), and go to overtime against Detroit (March 30) before relinquishing a goal. He stopped 147 consecutive shots during the stretch, which at the time was the fifth-longest in the NHL since the 1943-44 season.
"I hope it's not a peak, that there's still higher to go," said Ellis, who fought dehydration and lost upwards of 13 pounds after the second Columbus shutout. "I just want to try to help this team to get into the playoffs. All we can do is control the games we have ahead of us."
Ellis was named the Second Star of the Week following the streak, and would end the month of March with a 1.75 goals-against average and a .949 save percentage. The Preds would go onto clinch a playoff berth behind their first-year goalie with back-to-back wins against St. Louis in their first two games of April.
March 28, 2013 – Bridgestone Arena sells out for the 29th straight time
Though the Predators would fall to the Phoenix Coyotes in their last home game of March 2013, the franchise broke a record that symbolized the team’s position as an integral part of the community and mainstay in the market by selling out Bridgestone Arena of the 29th consecutive time, establishing a club mark for consecutive sellouts. The Predators sold out their final eight games of the 2011-12 season, all five 2012 Stanley Cup Playoff contests, and the first 16 games of the 2012-13 campaign. Nashville finished the 2012-13 season by filling Bridgestone Arena to capacity 20 times in 24 home games, with an average attendance of 16,974 (99.2%), highest in franchise history.
March 29, 2010 – Hornqvist hits 30
Patric Hornqvist scored his 30th goal of the season in a 3-2 victory at Florida, making him the first Predators draft pick to hit the 30-goal mark. Hornqvist netted the equalizer at 16:53 in the third period, knotting the score at 2-2 and sending the game into overtime.
The 2009-10 campaign was a big one for the Sollentuna, Sweden native. In his first full season in the NHL, the last overall draft pick in the 2005 Entry Draft (230th overall) tied fellow forward Steve Sullivan for the team lead in scoring with 51 points on the year. His 30 goals is the fourth-highest total in franchise history. Hornqvist’s eight game-winning goals during the 2009-10 season are tied for the franchise record and were good enough for second in the League. He also set a franchise record for shots in a season with 275.
Hornqvist had the fewest NHL games experience (108) and the lowest average ice time (15:41) among the NHL’s Top 20 goal scorers in 2009-10.
March 30, 2012 – The franchise’s 500th victory
Nashville recorded the 500th regular-season victory in club history with a 4-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena on March 30, 2012. The Predators hit the milestone in 1,062 games, the fewest in the post-1990 expansion era. With the win, David Poile became the first general manager to guide two separate clubs to 500 wins (Washington), while Barry Trotz became just the fifth bench boss to post 500 wins with a single team.
"It feels good for our franchise," Trotz said. "Sort of like we've arrived.”
The first period was a defensive bout, as the teams combined for only 16 shots on goal. The Red Wings came out firing in the second period, outshooting the Predators 17-9, but Pekka Rinne was up to the task, turning them all away. Gabriel Bourque finally broke through at the 13:05 mark in the second period to put the Predators ahead, 1-0. Francis Bouillon snuck the puck out of a rugby-style scrum in front of the net and caught Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard off guard to put the Predators up 2-0 at the 19:27 mark of the third, and Nashville added a dagger just 2:40 into the third to take a commanding three-goal lead.
Jiri Hudler spoiled Rinne’s shutout bid with 3:03 remaining when he flicked a shot into the open net off of Henrik Zetterberg’s cross-crease pass, but Shea Weber added an empty-net goal in the final minutes to punctuate the Predators’ 500th franchise victory.
The win was a gigantic leap toward securing the No. 4 seed in the 2012 playoffs where they would face, and defeat, the same Red Wings squad.