The Nashville Predators were riding a three-game losing streak heading into last night’s game with the similarly slumping Edmonton Oilers. Things got bad enough that general manager David Poile began making personnel changes like they were going out of style. As it turned out that was exactly what the team needed to bounce back from its slump.
Hornqvist scored for the Nashville Predators before being knocked out of the game. (PHOTO: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports)
The Preds broke the tie on the power play at 6:07 of the first period on a classic Patric Hornqvist goal after Mike Fisher fired a shot from the slot and Colin Wilson tried to stuff home the rebound. Hornqvist succeeded on the second try and the Preds were up 1-0. Rich Clune and Mike Brown dropped the gloves on the ensuing faceoff, but Edmonton took no energy from the altercation.
Nashville continued to press the attack throughout the first without another goal until David Legwand scored the Preds’ flukiest goal of the season for a 2-0 lead at 18:51. Colin Wilson picked up his second assist of the game on that chip shot from center ice, which got Devan Dubnyk the hook.
Yann Danis replaced Dubnyk to start the second period and promptly gave up a goal to Rich Clune at 0:51 for a 3-0 Nashville lead. The Oilers managed to fight back some in the second, leading shots 10-8. They also injured Patric Hornqvist on a nasty hit from behind by Theo Peckham. Paul Gaustad stepped up to fight Peckham at 6:00, but things ended too quickly for five-minute majors and the two were given coincidental roughing minors. Peckham took an extra minor for holding. The Preds didn’t score on the power play, but they finally made it 4-0 on Zach Boychuk’s first goal as a Nashville Predator, a tip-in at 18:22 off a Shea Weber slap shot that was his first NHL goal since January 26, 2011.
The third period was all Nashville as the Preds outshot the Oilers 13-6 despite holding a four-goal lead. Colin Wilson added two goals to his two assists – one at 4:43 from Mike Fisher and Weber, the other at 16:39 on the power play from Weber and Craig Smith – and Nashville finished out the game in style for Pekka Rinne’s fourth shutout of the season.
Bourque – Legwand – Wilson
Boychuk – Fisher – Hornqvist
Butler – Smith – Erat
Kostitsyn – Gaustad – Clune
Colin Wilson had the best game of his career with the Nashville Predators last night. (PHOTO: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports)
Colin Wilson was realistic after the game about what the sudden breakthrough means for the Preds. “It’s a good feeling, but we realize we have to build on it,” he said. “Maybe if we put together a string of games, 10 games, we’ll feel pretty good about ourselves but right now it’s just one game.” It’s good to see that realization from the team that a single win, no matter how impressive, isn’t going to cut it. Consistent competition is the key.