The Nashville Predators were fortunate enough to begin the season with three straight home games. With an opportunity to enter the year on a high note, the Predators would take full advantage at Bridgestone Arena. Two wins and a shootout loss is something to be excited about in the beginning of the Peter Laviolette era in the Music City. Following Tuesday night’s game against the Calgary Flames, Nashville became the only team in the Central Division with 5 points.
More importantly, however, was the display in offense throughout the lineup. The Predators were shooting often and scoring was coming from all lines, especially the fourth line. Paul Gaustad and Eric Nystrom are tied in team scoring with 4 points, along with Filip Forsberg.
The common theme was if Nashville was out-shooting their opponent, then they would win. In the shootout loss, they failed to out-shoot the Calgary Flames.
Let’s take a look at the three games more in depth.
October 9 vs Ottawa Senators – 3-2 Win
David Legwand returned to Nashville for the first time since being traded to the Detroit Red Wings on March 5. During the second media timeout, a tribute video played for the franchise’s first draft pick and all-time points leader. Later on, Legwand was called for holding the stick and accidentally went into the Predators’ penalty as a force of habit.
Following a Kyle Turris goal 1:15 into the second period, Nashville responded in the third period with three unanswered goals from Craig Smith (PP), Shea Weber, and Eric Nystrom, the eventual game-winner. Alex Chiasson would cut the lead to 3-2 with 6:12 remaining in regulation on a deflection from Cody Ceci. Ottawa would pour the pressure on in the final moments of the game on a 6-on-4 due to a Smith hooking minor and empty net, but Legwand’s minor with 10.4 seconds remaining on the clock relieved the Predators and secured the win.
Nashville out-shot Ottawa, 37-20.
October 11 vs Dallas Stars – 4-1 Win
A victory against a Central Division rival early in the season would pay dividends later on in the year. Yet again, Nashville kicked it up a notch in the third period following a 1-1 tie thanks to goals from Antoine Roussel and Weber, the captain’s second of the season. Paul Gaustad, Nystrom, and Roman Josi (empty net) would score in the third to earn the 4-1 win. Gaustad recorded a Gordie Howe Hat Trick with the game-winner, a fight against former-Pred Vernon Fiddler, and an assist on Nystrom’s tally. Nystrom had an impressive outing scoring a goal and two assists.
Not only did Weber score, but he delivered a big, clean hit on Roussel, which led to the Stars’ forward receiving two- and ten-minute misconduct penalties. Following the hit, Ryan Garbutt sneakily sack-tapped Derek Roy (seen in the bottom right corner).
Nashville nearly double Dallas’ shots, 33-18.
October 14 vs Calgary Flames – 3-2 Loss (SO)
A few of Nashville’s new-comers — Roy, James Neal, and Olli Jokinen — were given the opportunity to show their skills in the team’s first shootout of the year. Neither of them were able to beat Karri Ramo, who was spectacular all night, in the shootout. Joe Colborne’s lone shootout goal gave the Flames the 3-2 win.
Nashville should have won the game, but Ramo had other plans. He made two big saves in the third period with the game tied. Gaustad had the first opportunity on a deflection from Weber’s shot on a 3-on-2 rush, then a 2-on-1 rush by Filip Forsberg and Craig Smith.
The two teams split first and second period goals. Nashville’s goal scorers were Forsberg and Mike Ribeiro, and Calgary’s were TJ Brodie and Mark Giordano (PP).
Calgary out-shot Nashville, 28-21. The one game the Predators fail to out-shoot their opponent, they lose.
Colin Fitts is a Nashville Predators staff writer and is a credentialed media member of the Chicago Wolves. From Nashville, Tennessee, Colin majors in journalism and public relations at Columbia College Chicago. Follow him on Twitter, @FittsTHW. Email: 22fitts [at] gmail [dot] com.