By Amanda DiPaolo
The Nashville Predators got Martin Erat back last night in their 3-2 shootout victory over the Stanley Cub champion Blackhawks. Erat has missed nine games due to an upper body injury sustained against the Ottawa Senators Decemeber 23rd.
Along with Steve Sullivan and Cal O’Reilly, also both injured, Erat was one of the leaders in the points category for Nashville. At the time of his last injury, Erat had 17 points, five goals and 12 assists. After missing the last 9 games, the forward is happy to be back on the ice. “It feels good to get the first one behind your back. It was a good game. In the second period, they just outskated us, out battled us. In the thid period we got the two goals back. It was a great two points,”
Head coach Barry Trotz thought Erat played better as the game went on. “Early, everything was happening really fast, and then he got more comfortable as the game went on. I didn’t want to overextend him too much, so I didn’t play him a whole lot in the first two periods, just trying to keep his shifts very spaced out, if you will. I thought he did okay.”
Erat logged 16:10 minutes of ice time and recorded two shots on goal, one missed shot and blocked one shot.
To start the game, Trotz reunited the duo of Erat and David Legwand, who had been linmates up until last season. “Yeah it felt good with Leggy. He was skating quite well. He is a good player,” Erat said about his teammate.
For the third period, Trotz mixed up the lines and put Erat back together with Marcel Goc and Sergei Kotitsyn, a line that had been tearing up the scorecard previous to Erat’s injury just before Christmas.
“I was hoping I would recreate some of the energy they had,” Trotz explained why he put the Euro Line back together. “Sometimes you look for a little lightening in the bottle, go back to things that worked in the past. They were much better as a group.”
It’s no secret that the Nashville Predators have been plagued by injuries this season. Erat has been sidelined twice this year. After the season opener against Anaheim, Erat missed the next 7 games with back spasms. The latest injury was sustained on December 23rd against the Ottawa Senators. Erat has missed 16 of Nashville’s 44 games so far this year.
Sunday night, Erat and the Predators take on the Blackhawks in the second half of not only back-to-backs but also home-and-homes against Chicago.
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