The Nashville Predators entered tonight's contest as one of only three teams yet to register a point in this still young season. (Buffalo and Philadelphia, in case you were wondering.) After two lackluster performances, hopefully a visit from a budding rival with a familiar face, and 17,000 screaming gold-clad maniacs would jumpstart the team.
It did. After giving up an early power play goal, the Preds stormed back with two of their own. Then, Eric Nystrom was brought down on a partial breakaway and careened right into Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom. Backstrom would leave the game and be replaced by Josh Harding, who had the dubious honor of facing a penalty shot right off the bench. Nystrom picked up his first as a Predator, putting the hometeam up 3-1. All this in the first period.
The Wild got one back in the second period (also on the power play) to make things interesting, but the Predators would hang on to record their first win of the season. It wasn't a pretty game by any means, but if you're playing hockey the Predator way, it rarely is going to be.
First, huge congratulations to Nashville's two prized rookies, Filip Forsberg and Seth Jones. Forsberg notched the first goal of his career on the power play to open the scoring. Naturally, Seth Jones picked up the secondary assist on the tally. Let's hope there's plenty more where that came from. I guess they'll cut the puck in half or something before framing it?
It was great fun to score goals and win for a change, but hoo boy... how about those special teams? Nary an even strength goal to be seen in this one. Nashville's play was a little concerning through the game, constantly getting outshot and coughing up the puck. If the Predators want to keep adding to their wins total, they are going to have to find a way to be consistent at fives.
Patrick Hornqvist was playing like a man possessed in the third period, even though he missed a point-blank scoring chance. Though, in his defense, he seemed surprised the puck even came to him. He ended the night with 15:14 of ice time and 3 shots on goal. We'll look the other way on the embellishment call, for now.
Overall, a great faceoff night for the home team. Goose led the way winning 65% of his draws, including 15 of 22 in the defensive zone. He, Legwand (67%) and Fisher (59%) should probably have a sit down with Cullen (30%).
I found three heads-up pennies during one of my photo assignments today. Those are no doubt how the Preds scored three goals tonight. You're welcome, Nashville.
Let's just enjoy this one, shall we? We'll worry about how this team is going to score goals 5-on-5 at a later time. Probably in the morning. For now, Smashville hockey is officially back!
Roll the video highlights...