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Memorable Power-Play Performance Boosts Predators to Win

by Thomas Willis / Nashville Predators

Three power-play goals pushed the Nashville Predators past the Philadelphia Flyers by a score of 4-1 on Saturday.

Man-advantage markers from Filip Forsberg, Mike Fisher and Colin Wilson helped the Preds temporarily forget what has been a source of frustration for the club this season and boosted Nashville’s record to 11-0-0 following a loss on the campaign.

“The power play has been [improving] and tracking over the last few weeks,” Fisher said. “Guys were really shooting the puck well on it tonight. That’s what we’ve got to keep doing, pounding pucks, getting in front, and they’re bound to go in.”

“I think we’re a prideful and confident group,” Wilson said of the Preds resiliency. “We just want to win right now. I’ve never been with a group that hates losing so much. After losing one, we can’t stand to lose another and we’ve done well with that.”

Preds Head Coach Peter Laviolette said his team didn’t like their performance in a 5-3 defeat to the Bruins on Tuesday, and that rebounding was always the plan.

“It’s all about what the guys do [following a loss],” Laviolette said. “They’re a resilient group. They want to win. No one was happy about the game in Boston, we didn’t play great coming off of that back-to-back.”

With Claude Giroux in the box for a tripping minor, Forsberg wristed a puck past Ray Emery to open the scoring with Fisher screening the Flyers netminder.

“I’m continuing to get more comfortable being in that position,” Fisher said. “I have to keep taking the goalie’s eyes away and then relying on the guys to take good shots. They’ve done a real good job of that.”

After Philadelphia knotted the contest off of Giroux’s goal at the 6:50 mark of the second frame, Nashville notched two power-play markers in 38 seconds for a 3-1 advantage.

The 5-on-3 and subsequent 5-on-4 PP tallies for the Predators came after the home team killed off a 58-second, two-man-advantage opportunity for the Flyers to begin the period.

“That was big,” Laviolette said. “I thought that the 5-on-3 we had lots of looks, lots of attempts. The 5-on-4 goal, to come back and get one right after, that was really important.”

Wilson capped off the trio of power play goals with roughly five minutes remaining in the second and later added an empty-netter to seal the Preds win.


Power Play Prowess:

Nashville’s power play broke open for three goals on the man advantage against Philadelphia, accounting for the Preds first three markers of the game. The trifecta of man-advantage tallies marked the first time since Feb. 27, 2014, that the Predators had scored three power-play goals in a single contest.

The club’s PP unit has come alive over the last two weeks after ranking in the NHL’s bottom portion for much of the season.

“There were a lot of attempts tonight, the guys were really shooting the puck,” Laviolette said. “I felt like we had a good attack up top and on the flanks and with good traffic in front. Emery made some good saves for them, but I thought we were able to catch him a couple of times while [on the power play].”

Two of the club’s man-advantage markers came via shots fired off the wing, an angle of attack that Fisher credited as one of the new things the team has tried while skating a man or two up.

“We were trying a few different things and showing a few new things,” Fisher said. “There were some great shots from different sides too. Hopefully we can keep that going and it can open up other areas too.”

The hat trick of power-play scores upped Nashville’s PP success to 13.5 percent on the season.

“We are starting to get more comfortable and getting to know each other’s tendencies,” Wilson said. “We had a lot of good looks before and sometimes they go in and sometimes they don’t. It’s nice that they did.”


Wilson, Wilson, Wilson:

Preds winger Colin Wilson scored for the third-straight contest on Saturday, a wrister that went top shelf late in the middle period. The forward skated down the left wing before firing the biscuit far side and just underneath the bar.

“[James] Neal took the goalie’s eyes away completely, and I saw the net open for a split second on the glove side,” Wilson said. “I saw a little net there and took the shot.”

Wilson credited a new mindset under Laviolette’s shoot-first offense as a big reason for his resurgence this year.

“Laviolette has emphasized pucks at the net and that kind of struck home with me this year,” Wilson said. “That is what I need to do to play well. Last year, I was [holding] up and trying to make good plays as opposed to just getting it to the net. I think the way we play, and that I’ve changed my game a little bit this year, has allowed me to play better.”  

The trio of markers in the same number of contests are evidence of likely the 25-year-old’s best stretch of hockey in his career.

“He’s such a strong player one-on-one; he hangs onto the puck, he has great vision, and his stretch on the puck is amazing,” Laviolette said. “He’s really done a nice job at controlling play in the offensive zone. Tonight was no different, not only the shot on the power play, but five-on-five just cycling the puck and generating offense.”

“He is playing with a lot of confidence,” Fisher said of Wilson. “He is skating really well and he is strong on the puck and just doing a lot of really good things offensively. He has been real, real good.”

Wilson has 10 goals already in this season, one shy of the 11 he put up in 81 games during the 2013-14 campaign. The forward now has 18 points on the season and is on pace for 43, a mark that would exceed his career best of 35 (set in the 2011-12 season).


End Game:

Tonight’s victory marked just the second Preds home win of the season that came by way of more than one goal, with the only other instance occurring on Oct. 11 in a 4-1 win over Dallas. Captain Shea Weber tallied an assist for the fifth-consecutive contest, setting a new career high in the category. With his 33rd point of the season, Forsberg, is just four points away from tying the Preds all-time record for rookie points in one season.  Paul Gaustad returned to the lineup tonight after missing the previous six games with a lower-body injury. Gaustad finished with 15:17 of ice time and went 12-for-19 in the faceoff circle.

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