There were some questions heading into tonight's game about whether or not there was some bad blood left over from the Predators' and Ducks' playoff series back in April. One chippy game later - one that included 42 combined penalty minutes - that question was answered with a resounding "yes".
And there was something else that didn't change: the Predators still own the Anaheim Ducks.
It was a dominant performance from the Preds, the second one in a row from a Nashville team that got off to a sluggish start at the beginning of the season.
"We have good jump right now and hopefully can build on this one here," Patric Hornqvist said. "I think the two last games, every player in this room threw pucks at net. Good things can happen."
And Hornqvist knows about putting pucks on net. He finished the night with seven shots on goal and got the scoring going just 14 seconds in with a vintage Hornqvist goal. Colin Wilson put the puck on net and Hornqvist was in front to jam it home. The Swede now has two goals in his last two games.
It was a welcome sign to see the team shoot the puck so well. The Predators outshot their opponents for the first time tonight 29-20. Barry Trotz said that had been a point of emphasis after the disastrous road trip to Western Canada.
"We talked about it. One of the reasons we didn't get a lot of shots when we did come out of our end, we weren't putting a lot of pucks to the net," Trotz said. "We were trying to be a little too creative."
There was a scary moment with 7:19 left in the first period when Erat sent a pass to Mike Fisher who was nailed by Francois Beauchemin. It's unclear whether or not Beauchemin will get a call from Shanahan on this one, but Trotz was pretty adamant about the way he felt about the call.
"I'll leave that up to the league. I look at it and I think it's pretty clear, I'll leave it up to the league."
Fisher didn't return to the game and Trotz said his status was uncertain. Fisher didn't go to the hospital.
Martin Erat returned to the lineup and looked comfortable, scoring a goal in 18:29 of total ice time. Erat dropped a pass back to Jordin Tootoo and then headed straight for the net where Tootoo found him for the Predators' second goal of the game.
The Ducks made it clear that they were going to continue their chippy play. But the Predators stayed disciplined, and eventually got the Ducks to commit a few penalties, eventually capitalizing on the power play.
"When things got real chippy we got on the powerplay, we scored a big powerplay goal to really give us some breathing room," Trotz said. "I thought we stayed really disciplined. Checked with our feet, stayed off people's hands."
In particular, it was clear that Jordin Tootoo was getting under the Ducks' skin. Tootoo alone drew six minutes worth of penalties in the third period, including the double minor that led to Shea Weber's first goal of the season.
"It's part of my game to be a physical presence out there and create some energy and emotion, I thought I did that tonight," Tootoo said. "We knew that they were gonna come out with a little bit of anger in them, and it was playoff style hockey. I play my best hockey when it's on the line. I felt great out there."
Video highlights and a few leftover thoughts:
- The Preds will get a "take two" on road trips, if you will, when they hit the road for five straight games. Nashville is playing its best hockey right now, and it's been a combination of getting healthy bodies back and going hard to the net instead of making a few extra fancy moves.
- Pekka Rinne achieved two career milestones tonight. He won his 100th game tonight and set the Predators' franchise record in shutouts with 22.
- Trotz was in rare form after tonight's win. You know the coach is happy when he says, "Tomorrow morning, I'm gonna enjoy my dunkin' donuts coffee and my donut with all the other 17,113 people that are gonna be at dunkin' donuts tomorrow." See you there, coach.