Mattias Ekholm set a franchise record, and the Nashville Predators defeated the Winnipeg Jets by a 5-3 final on Monday night at Bridgestone Arena. The win is Nashville's second consecutive victory and their fifth win in their last seven tries over Winnipeg.
After a first period that saw the score even at 1-1, the Preds exploded for three goals in the middle frame and added another in the third to score at least four times for the fifth consecutive game. Against a Winnipeg team that now only sits one point ahead of Nashville for second place in the Central Division, the win was a gratifying one for Nashville.
"I thought we played well," Ekholm said. "[Winnipeg] looked tired [in the second period] and we just kept coming at them - they took some penalties and we got some goals. We got that separation and that was the difference in the end. I feel like we're really strong at home."
Kevin Fiala got Nashville on the board first with a beautiful move to the backhand before Mathieu Perreault tied the game minutes later.
Then, it was Ryan Johansen, Kyle Turris and Ekholm all tallying in the second stanza for the Preds, the final two coming with the man advantage. Johansen's goal was his 300th NHL point, while Ekholm's goal was his fourth in as many games (more on that below).
Video: WPG@NSH: Johansen snipes wrister for 300th NHL point
Nick Bonino potted his third of the season in the final frame, and although the Jets added two more before the horn sounded, Nashville will certainly take the two points - and the goals just keep on coming.
"With Kyle [Turris] coming into the lineup, he's a very offensive guy and that changed the whole team and the lines of our offense," Fiala said. "We are changing our mindset and playing more offense. We are attacking the game, and that's what we are doing now to find success."
Tickling the Twine:
When you're hot, you're hot.
Monday's 5-3 win against Winnipeg marked the fifth consecutive game that saw the Preds score at least four goals and the eighth consecutive contest that has seen them light the lamp on at least three occasions.
As has been the case in seemingly every game during the streak, five different Preds found the back of the net in the win as the contributions continue to come from top to bottom in the Nashville lineup.
Video: WPG@NSH: Turris blasts strong one-timer for PPG
"There was a lot of talk in the beginning of the year because we weren't scoring goals," Nashville Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. "There's always something to coach up in the locker room and address with the players, and you hope for a good response. Sometimes, you just get in a funk with something, and it's not working. At the beginning of the year, it was the goals, or output, or the 5-on-5 goals and production. Those things usually work themselves out if you can keep to the process and keep doing things the right way. We played well offensively, and at times we've really been humming in the offensive zone. I thought we've done some good things."
In particular, Mattias Ekholm has contributed to that cause in four-straight games, setting a Predators franchise record for consecutive contests with a goal by a blueliner. Ekholm also became the first NHL defenseman to score a goal in four straight since Brent Burns had a four-game streak (Feb. 29-March 7, 2016).
Video: WPG@NSH: Ekholm fires slap shot for power-play goal
"Just shooting the puck, I guess, and playing on a really good power-play unit," Ekholm said of his scoring touch. "With Kyle Turris and Roman Josi, Kevin Fiala is really good in the middle and Colton Sissons in front of the net - credit to those guys for giving me the opportunity to shoot the puck."
"He's a great player," Laviolette said of Ekholm. "I think what we're seeing is that he's got a good shot from the point right now. He's getting some power-play time and he's really bringing the hammer from the weak side of the ice. It's good for him. He's done a really good job fitting in on the power play. I think the power plays looked really good in the last 10 games or so. We've been able to produce and score some goals, and he's a big part of that. He's a 200-foot player both ways and playing very well."
Video: Balanced attack leads Predators past Jets, 5-3
Kevin Fiala, who recorded a goal and an assist in Monday's win, has posted back-to-back multipoint games for the first time in his career.
Ryan Johansen now has 19 points (10g-9a) in 14 career games vs. the Jets.
Prior to Monday's game, the Predators recalled forwards Pontus Aberg and Frederick Gaudreau from Milwaukee. They also recalled goaltender Juuse Saros and returned netminder Anders Lindback to the Admirals.
Nashville finishes their three-game home stand on Wednesday night when they welcome Shea Weber and the Montreal Canadiens to town.