Deep in the heart of Canada's hockey heartland, a rag-tag band of American hockey players staged a daring operation tonight, storming the ice at Air Canada Centre and getting out of the building with a 3-game winning streak intact, thanks to a 4-2 triumph over the Maple Leafs. Now at 11-9-2, the Preds have gotten back to the break-even mark in terms of wins & losses.
After falling behind 1-0 on a Peter Holland score, the Predators took charge in the second period by converting on power play opportunities, as Seth Jones and Matt Cullen cashed in on the man advantage. In between those goals, Craig Smith scored at even strength, and by the time the team's went into the locker room for the second intermission, the Preds had a comfortable 3-1 lead. With Smith adding another goal in the third, you had Nashville's American players dominating the score sheet; 10 of the 11 points earned by Preds players tonight came from U.S.-born skaters.
Marek Mazanec seems likely to keep his job starting goal in Pekka Rinne's absence, earning his third consecutive win by making 24 saves.
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- The opening goal by Holland was a softie for Mazanec to give up, and the Preds almost fell behind 2-0 if not for the crossbar saving him on a stuff attempt later in the 1st. Fortunately, the hockey gods have warmed up Nashville's shooting to help cover up the odd dodgy goal given up.
- Cullen's goal was a real laugher, with him whiffing on his initial shot attempt, which nevertheless caused Bernier to react, leaving him unable to deal with the follow-up attempt.
- Viktor Stalberg had a lot of jump tonight, and what really impresses me is the courage he shows when chasing down opportunities in the offensive end. It can be dangerous going after the puck and being the first guy to the boards (whoever's behind can do some real damage), but he's making things happen.
- Tonight's game perhaps popped the "Jonathan Bernier dominates the Predators" mindset, as they made him look bad on a couple of those goals.
Roll the video highlights...
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- A Tale of Two Teams: As the Season Gets Older, Predators Struggling to Find Their Way
- Thursday's Dump & Chase: Hey There, Toronto!
- The Nashville Predators' Week Ahead: The Oldies Tour Continues