This week in Nashville Predators history saw the establishment of several franchise records, and most importantly, the very identity of the club through the announcement of its name in 1997. Take a look through the unforgettable moments that occured during this week in seasons past.
November 10, 1999: First hat trick in franchise history:
In a routine early-season division game at the United Center in Chicago, one of the most unlikely Predators made history by notching the franchise’s first hat trick. In just an 11:12 span in the opening period, Rob Valicevic turned the trick by beating Blackhawk starter Jocelyn Thibault first, then his backup Steve Passmore two more times.
“To this day it is still surreal,” Valicevic said when reflecting on the game. “It happened so fast, that oddly enough, it still hasn’t sunk in. In a matter of three shifts there were three goals. I was playing with Greg Johnson and Ville Peltonen at the time, and I can still see that third goal going in. It was quite an honor to be a part of the whole history-making process.”
The trio of goals in just more than 11 minutes served as the fastest three markers by an individual for more than seven seasons until Steve Sullivan scored three in 5:56 last December against Ottawa. In that span, nine other Predator hat tricks were tallied.
“I guess the highlight of my career there was the hat trick in Chicago,” Valicevic said. “To this day I still can’t believe it happened.”
November 10, 2005: Sullivan scores three as Preds beat Dallas:
Steve Sullivan's second trick as a Pred powered a third-period comeback in the Predators 5-3 win over the Dallas Stars on Nov. 10, 2005. Trailing 3-2, Nashville stormed back with three third-period strikes, including two goals in the final 10 minutes off the stick of the Timmins, Ont. native.
Sully’s final goal was one for the highlight reels, as he took an outlet pass on his side of the red line and stickhandled his way through Stars defenseman Sergei Zubov with three moves before getting around him to the right and firing a low shot past goalie Marty Turco.
"When I got the puck, they had a couple of Dallas guys backchecking," Sullivan said, describing his final tally. "There was only Zubov in front of me, so I figured I might as well just try to play him one-on-one since I wasn't going to be able to wait for anyone else to catch up to me. So I made a couple of moves on him, and I don't think Marty Turco thought I was going to be able to get the shot off. I think Zubov had me wrapped up pretty good so i don't think he was expecting the shot. I think I just beat him low, blocker side - just caught him off guard."
The game kept the wheels spinning on a four-game winning streak and span of 10 victories in 12 games for the 2005-06 Predators, who went on to set then franchise records in wins and points to clinch their second playoff berth in franchise history.
November 11, 2008 – Dan Ellis sets a franchise record with 54 saves:
In one of the most impressive goaltending performances in franchise history, Dan Ellis stopped a franchise-record 54-of-57 shots as the Predators squeezed out a 4-3 overtime victory over the San Jose Sharks at the SAP Center. On a night where Nashville was outshot by nearly a two-to-one margin (57-29), Ellis stood on his head, serving as the cornerstone for the penalty kill as they extinguished four chances against in the first 10 minutes, and making 17 stops overall with the team a man down. The Sharks outshot the Predators 21-6, but went into the first intermission with only a 1-0 lead on a Devin Setoguchi goal at 16:52 of the opening frame.
Despite a pair of spectacular shorthanded saves late in the second, Rob Blake put home a rebound at 16:53 of the second period and the route appeared to be on. However, just 1:06 later, Jason Arnott began the Predators’ comeback. Patric Hornqvist started the play by dumping the puck into the zone which took an odd hop in front of Sharks’ goaltender Brian Boucher. Arnott followed the play hard and backhanded the bouncing puck five-hole, bringing the Preds within one. Vernon Fiddler netted the equalizer 5:42 into the third period when he snapped a shot from between the face-off circles past Boucher’s glove side.
The Sharks answered just 27 seconds later when Setoguchi scored his second goal and third point of the night as the Preds fell behind 3-2. At the 11:32 mark, the Sharks’ Tomas Plihal was sent to the box for hooking and after being stifled for the majority of the power play, Ryan Suter pinched in a rebound goal as the man advantage expired to force an improbable overtime period. The 17,496 were silenced, jaws dropped, when the comeback was completed 2:28 into extra time when Ville Koistinen played hero. The victory at the Shark Tank was Nashville’s seventh at the venue, and one of just two in a six-season span from 2003-10.
November 12, 2011 – The franchise’s 1,000th regular-season game:
The franchise played its 1,000th regular season game against the Montreal Canadiens on November 12, 2011. David Poile became the first general manager in NHL history to record 1,000 games with two separate franchises (Washington from 1982-97) while former Head Coach Barry Trotz became just the fourth coach to spend 1,000 games behind the bench of a single franchise.
Though the Predators lost to the Canadiens 2-1 in front of a sellout crowd at Bridgestone Arena, the night was about reflecting on the first 13-plus years of the franchise’s existence. Employees who had been part of the organization were honored in a pregame ceremony, while Tom Fitzgerald, the Predators’ first captain, Mike Dunham, the franchise’s first expansion draft pick and David Legwand, the team’s first-ever entry draft selection, dropped the first puck.
“There are lots of ups and downs with every franchise,” Poile said. “With the Predators, the goal is to be competitive every year, and after 1,000 games, that’s where we’ve brought it to now. We have to go a little bit further each year. And eventually, we have to do what a lot of people say is impossible for us, and that’s win a Stanley Cup.”
November 13, 1997 – "Predators" chosen as team name:
With dozens of budding hockey fans crammed into Nashville's Wildhorse Saloon, former team owner Craig Leopold announced that the city's new NHL franchise would be called the "Predators." Less than a year later, the club would take to the ice for their inaugural game on October 10, 1998, against the Florida Panthers. Watch the NHL's video of the event below: