Two nights after tallying two points for the first time in six tries, the Predators used a 6-4 victory over the Detroit Red Wings to claim consecutive wins for the first time in 16 days.
Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard looked shaky in his return to the Detroit lineup after missing the last three weeks due to a knee injury.
Colin Wilson, Craig Smith and Nick Spaling all blew wrist shots past Howard in the game’s first 25 minutes, giving Nashville a 3-1 lead early in the second period.
“To be honest with you, I felt like I was behind the play a lot and just didn’t get comfortable in their end,” said Howard. “When I thought I was on the angles, I was off the angles. It’s just one of those things, but you try to use it to get yourself going. [...] Let’s be honest – whenever you score four goals you should win, so the guys definitely deserved better.”
Credit the Predators forwards who put shots on Howard early and often, not allowing the Wings netminder to feel comfortable in his return to game action.
“It’s not like it was the first time he put on pads tonight,” Smith said. “I’m sure he’s been on the ice in practice and getting ready to go, but game time’s a bit different. He’s a good goaltender so he can react and come back with something like that and be just as good.”
After being Nashville’s main source of offense on Saturday night against the Kings, it was Colin Wilson and Mike Fisher again who proved to be the Predators best forwards on the ice.
After Fisher started the play in the defensive zone, Wilson registered the game’s first goal at the 1:54 mark of the first period, launching a cross-body wrister past a reaching Howard. The goal set the tone for Nashville who has struggled to control the play early in games over their last 10 contests.
Wilson and Fisher combined two more times in the third period as Fisher collected his 10th goal of the season off a pass from Wilson and about seven minutes later, Wilson scored his second goal of the night with Fisher starting the play once again.
“I knew it was just a matter of time,” Fisher explained. “I just had to keep putting it there and especially playing with the guys I’m playing with. They’re around the net making plays, you just have to keep doing that and we’ve been getting rewarded.”
For Fisher it was his second-straight, three-point game and his first career Gordie Howe hat trick.
After this kind of offensive explosion from the Predators, it might be easy to think the win came easily against the Wings, but Detroit did rally from two goals down in the third period and cut Nashville’s lead to 5-4 with just over five minutes remaining in regulation.
The Predators managed to rally together defensively when they needed to, however, as Nashville locked the Wings down in the last few minutes and used an empty-net power play goal to seal the victory with just seconds remaining.
It’s a lot easier to overlook the less-than-stellar goalie play by Marek Mazanec and the fact that the Preds gave up four goals when things are clicking so well on the other end of the ice. Nashville has shown the ability to answer their opponent in this pair of wins and Fisher, Wilson and the power play unit heating up can put a smile on Preds fans’ faces as their team closes out 2013.