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Wilson finds scoring touch for Predators in Game 1

by Robby Stanley /

NASHVILLE -- Nashville Predators forward Colin Wilson hadn't scored in the final 15 games of the regular season heading into Game 1 of the Predators' Western Conference First Round series against the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday.

He scored twice against the Blackhawks in the first period of Game 1 of the best-of-7 series and led the Predators to a 3-0 lead in the first period.

Wilson's first goal was exactly what Predators coach Peter Laviolette has been expecting from him. Wilson took the puck in the neutral zone, skated around Blackhawks defenseman Michal Rozsival and took a wrist shot that beat goaltender Corey Crawford high on the stick side.

After the goal Laviolette walked down to Wilson on the bench, leaned in to give him words of encouragement and patted him on the shoulder. That play embodied what Laviolette had been preaching to him.

"We had just been talking about my skating and playing the way I can," Wilson said. "He was just happy for me and wanted me to keep it going."

Wilson scored again on the power play by going to the front of the net and redirecting a shot from defenseman Seth Jones past Crawford.

After struggling last season, Wilson set career highs this season with 20 goals and 42 points, but his offense faded in the final 20 games. His production on Nashville's second line will be a key factor for the remainder of the series.

Chicago defeated Nashville 4-3 in double overtime in Game 1, but Nashville was happy with the game it played. Chicago scored two power-play goals in the second period and one 4-on-4 goal to tie the game 3-3, but Nashville had several chances to win the game after that, outshooting Chicago 54-42.

The Predators did not hold a full practice Thursday but held a meeting. The players were happy with their effort in Game 1 and believe that same effort will lead to success in Game 2 on Friday (9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, SN360, TVA Sports3 ,CSN-CH, SPSO).

"It's good," Wilson said. "Obviously you're a little bit tired after playing basically five periods, but I think everybody is pretty optimistic, feeling good about what we did yesterday and taking the positives away.

Though Game 2 isn't technically a must-win for the Predators, Wilson realizes how important it is to get a victory and avoid going back to Chicago down 2-0 in the series.

"You don't want to give up those first two games, especially at home," Wilson said. "We realize that. We're going out to win every single game so I don't see [Friday] being any different."

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