On Wednesday night, the Preds ventured into Colorado for game three of a seven-game road trip and picked up a 6-4 win. The win gives Nashville 5 out of a possible 6 points on the trip and a third win for Carter Hutton in Pekka Rinne‘s absence. The night also included Viktor Stalberg‘s first, and long awaited, venture into the scoring column and a career-high tying four-point night from Colin Wilson.
Nashville opended the scoring and took a 2-1 lead after the first on goals by Stalberg and Criag Smith. This was by far Stalberg’s best game of the season. Stalberg had a goal and an assist in 15:19 of ice time and took six shots on goal. He showed the speed and skill set that earned him a big contract from Nashville over the summer. This should be a good first step in earning more minutes from Trotz and showing that he can be a top-six forward on this team. Another thing to consider, Stalberg did all of his damage at even strength. It will be interesting to see if Stalberg can turn this game into consistent production and he will have to do so quickly. The return of Mike Fisher and Matt Hendricks to the lineup could slow any improvements he is making if he doesn’t get consistent fast.
The scoring went back and forth a bit in the second period and Nashville took a 4-3 lead into the third on goals from Paul Gaustad and Wilson. Wilson scored his goal on the power play. This was Wilson’s third point of the night, with a fourth coming later, and the second power play goal for the Preds. Coming into the game, Colorado had the league’s 2nd ranked penalty kill and had only allowed four power play goals against in 44 chances this season. Nashville allowed Colorado to tie the game up at 4 early in the third but a second goal by Wilson put them ahead for good. Gabriel Bourque chipped in an empty net goal as the Preds held off a late Avalanche push.
Hutton was solid in goal again. It is tough to criticize wins, but I think he would probably like the Paul Stastny goal back. From watching the games, it looks like Hutton plays a lot deeper in this net than Rinne and could benefit from being out a little higher.
Seth Jones was -2 in 26:23 of ice time and gave fans a little scare after a hit from Jamie McGinn. McGinn hit Jones hard into the boards late in the first and Jones laid on the ice before heading to the lockerroom. McGinn received a charging minor and it was nice to see Bourque come in and stick up for his teammate. Fortunately, Jones returned and did not appear any worse for the wear.
One last Pred stat that shouldn’t be missed, Nick Spaling was 11 of 12 in the face-off circle.