Suffice it to say, that wasn’t how the Nashville Predators envisioned their home opener playing out.
The Predators dug themselves an early hole and could never get out of it, falling to Phoenix 5-2 at Bridgestone Arena on Thursday. For the players and coaches, it wasn’t the actual loss that hurt most, it was the way they lost.
Nashville looked a step behind the Coyotes in the first period, and the Predators admitted they didn’t come out with enough urgency. Phoenix took advantage and scored three goals in a span of 6:45 in the first. The Predators were also 0 for 3 on the power play (but defenseman Ryan Suter
did score a short-handed goal, the first of his career). Phoenix had 16 shots in the opening period. Nashville was without three of its best-producing forwards because of injury. It all amounted to a tough loss. On to the musings …THREE MUSINGSThe offense misfires:
The Predators managed two goals (Colin Wilson
, Suter) but did not take advantage of some early scoring chances. Nick Spaling
and Niclas Bergfors had three of them in the first, but couldn’t connect. If one had gone in, it may have been a different game. Depth is important to this club and it is one of its strengths, but there was a lot of offensive firepower missing because of injuries.
Forwards Martin Erat
(upper-body), Patric Hornqvist
(lower-body) and Mike Fisher
(upper-body) all sat out. Those three combined for 43 goals last regular season. Coach Barry Trotz said Hornqvist has an outside chance to play Saturday against New Jersey at Bridgestone Arena. Erat, who is on injured reserve, is doubtful for Saturday, Trotz said. And Fisher is closer to playing after offseason shoulder surgery. When those three get back, Nashville’s offense will undoubtedly improve.Legwand continues to shine:
Veteran forward David Legwand
wasn’t a hot topic during training camp. Most of the talk was about the young offensive players. But Legwand has been Nashville’s best offensive threat through three games. Nashville has a total of nine goals in those games, and Legwand has a point in seven of them. He provided a perfect pass on Wilson’s goal in the third, and assisted on Suter’s short-handed score.Smith comes back down to earth:
Rookie Craig Smith
electrified Predators fans with his play in the rookie games, in the preseason games, and in his first two regular season NHL Games. It was only a matter of time before the talented forward had a rough one. He had a minus-three rating in 15:58, but did have four shots, one off of Wilson’s team high of five. Smith is an even-keeled young player, and a tough game will only drive him more.THREE QUOTESColin Wilson on the first period:
“We were complacent. In the two previous games, we played better. But in those games, our goalie really had to bail us out. We have to get better out there.”Shea Weber on Thursday’s slow start:
“There’s really no excuse. I don’t know how to explain it. It’s your home opener and you come out as flat as we did. It’s really embarrassing.”Barry Trotz:
“Sometimes you need to get whooped a little bit to bring you back to reality.”THREE STARS
F David Legwand
: Two assists in 19:19
D Ryan Suter
: Short-handed goal, game-high 27:56 of ice time
F Colin Wilson
: One goal, team-high five shots