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Round 2

Predators counting on second line to sparkle in second round

Turris, Fiala, Smith aim for uptick in production against Jets

by Robby Stanley / NHL.com Correspondent

NASHVILLE -- The Nashville Predators know they'll need each of their forward lines to be at its best if they are to defeat the Winnipeg Jets in the Western Conference Second Round.

In a first-round, six-game victory against the Colorado Avalanche, the Predators averaged 3.67 goals per game without much offense from their second line of Kyle Turris, Kevin Fiala and Craig Smith.

Smith scored two goals against the Avalanche, one on the power play and one after coming out of the penalty box. Fiala scored a power-play goal and had an assist, and Turris had one assist. Their even-strength play as a line was not where they wanted it to be.

"We need to be better," Turris said. "Obviously we want to be contributing and making an impact. We've got to do a better job come second round here."

The Predators host Game 1 at Bridgestone Arena on Friday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN360, TVAS).

 

[RELATED: Predators vs. Jets playoff preview | Complete Predators vs. Jets series coverage]

 

Nashville coach Peter Laviolette tried to shake things up to begin Game 6. Fiala started on the fourth line with Mike Fisher and Miikka Salomaki, and Calle Jarnkrok started with Turris and Smith. Laviolette eventually switched Fiala back with Turris and Smith.

"We've got to be better, especially me," Fiala said. "It's not good enough. I can't accept the game I played in the first round. I've just got to be better." 

The Turris line was productive for the Predators during the regular season. Smith had 51 points (NHL carrer best 25 goals with 26 assists) in 79 games; Fiala had 48 points (23 goals, 25 assists), each a personal NHL high, in 80 games; and Turris had 42 points (13 goals, 29 assists) in 65 games with the Predators after being acquired from the Ottawa Senators as part of a three-team trade with the Colorado Avalanche on Nov. 5.

"I think if we just get back to what we were doing great before, loosen up and have some fun," Smith said. "I think when we're sticking together, we're close to each other out there, and especially when we're communicating to each other, I think it kind of holds each other accountable to be at certain places and support each other. I think that support is huge. That will be a big key to possessing the puck and using our speed."

Video: COL@NSH, Gm1: Smith pots Johansen's feed for PPG

Laviolette said he expects the line to bounce back against the Jets.

"I'm sure that they want to feel those contributions too," Laviolette said. "That's one of our lines that can produce a lot of points. I've known too, that through the course of going long and deep in the playoffs, it's not always the same players. Different players and different lines, they find their way through certain points of the playoffs. 

"There's a lot of confidence from me in that group. I think through the course of a long series, you'll see their production and their contributions."

Turris, Fiala and Smith showed signs of life offensively to close the series against the Avalanche; they combined for 17 shots on goal in the final two games.

"I thought we were able to create some nice chances there," Smith said. "It just didn't go for us. I thought we had some good looks. I don't think it's lack of work. I think we're working and definitely think we're trying to do the right things."

Video: COL@NSH, Gm2: Fiala nets pretty passing play for PPG

The Predators and Jets combined for 41 goals in five games against each other during the regular season (Nashville was 3-1-1 against Winnipeg). That style of play should suit Turris' line.

"I think both teams were just playing with speed," Smith said. "Things get opened up when good players make plays. Every game that we've played them, the neutral zone has been as fast as any game that we've seen. It's fun. It's fun to play that way."

***

 

Complete Coverage of the Stanley Cup Playoffs

Round 1

Bruins vs. Maple Leafs

Capitals vs. Blue Jackets

Round 2

Capitals vs. Penguins

Predators vs. Jets

Golden Knights vs. Sharks

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