Predators 5, Avalanche 3: Carrie Underwood's husband wins hockey game

NASHVILLE TN - FEBRUARY 12: Mike Fisher #12 of the Nashville Predators skates against Paul Stastny #26 of the Colorado Avalanche on February 12 2011 at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

(Hey, maybe I can get a side job writing headlines for The Tennessean)

The sellout crowd at Bridgestone Arena got a little bit of everything tonight; some excitement, some danger, a nice debut by Mike Fisher, and free Frosties thanks to Cody Franson's game-winning goal with 2:30 left in the 3rd. After David Legwand added an empty netter, the good guys skated off with a 5-3 win and 4th place in the Western Conference, while the Colorado Avalanche were left with their 7th straight loss, leaving them in 14th just above Edmonton.

Follow after the jump for video highlights, reaction, and of course the advanced even-strength stats!

There's a busy week in Smashville ahead with San Jose coming in Tuesday, Vancouver on Thursday, and Phoenix next Saturday, so take the OTF Discount on Nashville Predators tickets for sale on these, or any other home game!

Start things off with the Avalanche vs Predators boxscore and video highlights:

  • So how'd the new guy do? Pretty well, in my book. Fisher showed an eagerness to initiate contact in the offensive zone, and most importantly, use that physical play to create time and space to handle the puck. He dominated on the faceoff dot (12-for-16) and was part of a few decent scoring opportunities. At first I was surprised to see him on a line with Goc Erat & Kostitsyn, but his play complemented theirs quite well.
  • The opening minutes to this one were nice in a dominating-possession sort of way, but also hauntingly familiar from the Edmonton debacle from Monday. Midway through the 1st period the Preds held a 16-3 Total Shots edge, but only two of their attempts required a save by Peter Budaj.
  • Those fears came to pass, of course, when Colin Wilson had a lazy pass picked off just outside the Nashville blueline, and the Avs executed a nice 2-on-1 counterattack to take the early lead. Kevin Porter (a University of Michigan product) did a fine job finishing that play.
  • The good thing, however, was that before you could spit too many curse words out, the Preds tied it right back up on Shea Weber's wrist shot from the point. Give full marks to Mike Fisher for setting a screen in front of Budaj.
  • Taking the lead on that power play goal early in the 2nd, you sure hope that Martin Erat is getting goal-hungry. In Detroit, he fired a nice wrister from the slot to score, and tonight he crashed the net hard and banged home his own rebound. His biggest weakness as a player is a reluctance to attack the goal like that consistently, so keep your fingers crossed, and check back in 2-4 weeks.
  • Give the Avalanche credit for hanging around, however. On the next goal, David Jones drove to the net aggressively out of the corner while Shane O`Brien was calling for Cody Franson to come pick him up. It was a nasty gaffe by that D pair, but hard work by Jones to take advantage.
  • The Preds were fortunate to weather another storm when Matt Duchene's shot skimmed off Ryan Suter's blade to beat Rinne and put the Avs up 3-2 early in the 3rd. Nashville came right back with Legwand feeding Patric Hornqvist right between the circles, and he responded with a nice wrist shot to tie things back up.
  • Have I mentioned how much I love the way Cody Franson finds ways to put the puck on net? He's got a big slap shot, but he also knows that when things get busy in front, you don't always need to blast it.
  • Total Shots ended up 74-35 in this one; the Preds' skaters generally carried the day, and they were finally able to bust through enough times on Budaj, who had a strong game in the Colorado net.
  • Speaking of Total Shots, that +20 Corsi for David Legwand you see below might be a season-high for the team, I'll have to see if I can verify that.
  • One interesting tidbit this evening was how aggressive the Preds were on the penalty kill. Shane O'Brien rushed one puck up-ice and almost completed a nice play to Nick Spaling for a goal, and David Legwand followed that up with some good pressure of his own.
  • That said, there was also a 2-on-1 that ended up with Hornqvist losing the puck in his feet and stumbling into the net... that's got to make it into the year-end highlight reel.
Post-game commentary comes from Barry TrotzShea WeberMike FisherPekka RinneCody Franson, and Martin Erat (just click each name for the MP3).

As for the advanced even-strength stats...
 Even Strength Individual Totals Team Totals While Player Is On Ice
 Player Pos EV TOI Shots Shts Blkd Missed Shts Blocks SOG For SOG Ag SOG +/- Tot SF Tot SA Corsi
 Mike Fisher C 16:35 2 1 3 1 11 9 +2 19 13 +6
 Sergei Kostitsyn L 16:15 0 1 1 0 10 7 +3 20 11 +9
 Martin Erat R 16:14 1 1 1 0 11 7 +4 20 11 +9
 David Legwand C 15:42 3 0 1 1 15 4 +11 27 7 +20
 Joel Ward R 15:20 2 0 3 1 6 2 +4 13 7 +6
 Patric Hornqvist R 14:23 6 2 1 0 13 4 +9 24 6 +18
 Jerred Smithson R 14:18 1 0 1 0 5 3 +2 12 7 +5
 Steve Sullivan L 13:09 1 2 0 0 12 6 +6 23 8 +15
 Colin Wilson C 12:59 3 0 1 0 8 1 +7 15 5 +10
 Nick Spaling C 9:16 1 0 0 0 4 2 +2 8 5 +3
 Matt Halischuk R 5:36 1 0 1 0 4 1 +3 5 5 0
 J.P. Dumont R 4:49 1 0 0 0 4 2 +2 5 5 0
 Kevin Klein D 21:47 1 2 0 5 10 7 +3 22 15 +7
 Shea Weber D 19:50 4 0 0 1 14 6 +8 23 12 +11
 Ryan Suter D 17:45 3 0 0 1 12 6 +6 19 11 +8
 Shane O`Brien D 17:35 2 0 1 0 10 4 +6 19 9 +10
 Alexander Sulzer D 14:13 1 3 0 1 14 5 +9 26 9 +17
 Cody Franson D 11:15 1 2 1 0 8 4 +4 17 4 +13
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