Back-to-back road games, two wins, both coming against division opponents.
That’s how you open the regular season.
The Nashville Predators were in a hole early, broke two ties in the third, and went on to defeat St. Louis 4-2 at Scottrade Center on Saturday night. Rookie Craig Smith
and defenseman Kevin Klein
scored goals, and veteran David Legwand
had two, including an empty-netter. Then there was another standout performance by goaltender Pekka Rinne
. Nashville (2-0-0) gets some much deserved rest and won’t play until Thursday, when the home opener takes place in a gold-filled Bridgestone Arena.
Before Saturday’s game, Nashville defenseman Ryan Suter
said the St. Louis matchup would be a tough one considering the Predators were coming off a grueling win at Columbus the night before. Well, it sure wasn’t easy, but the two points will ease the soreness. On to the musings …Three MusingsLegwand poised:
With all the talk about the Predators’ youth, Legwand served a reminder that the veterans are still more than capable of producing. Legwand, 31, had two goals and two assists. His first came on the power play in the third, which put the Preds up 2-1. He had an empty-netter with 1:02 to essentially seal the victory. Legwand’s four points tied a career-high. The last time he had four points in a game came on Jan. 20, 2007 when he had three goals and an assist against Chicago.OK, how old is this kid?:
Rookie Craig Smith
(for the record, he turned 22 on Sept. 5) once again forces himself into the musings. He scored Nashville’s first goal to knot it at 1-1 at 11:37 of the second. He put back a rebound after a huge blast by Shea Weber
, and it came on the power play (more on that in a moment). Smith also had a goal in the season-opener at Columbus on Friday. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Smith is the first Predators player to score a goal in each of his first two NHL games. He is the first NHL player to do so since David Laliberte (Oct./Nov. 2009). And he is one of only four active NHL players to have achieved the feat.Power play:
Nashville was No. 26 out of 30 teams last regular season in power play percentage (15.2). If the first two games are any indication, expect the Predators to jump up several spots in 2011-12. Through two games, Nashville has had seven power play opportunities and has scored three times. Two came at St. Louis (Smith, Legwand). Expect this to level out a bit, but if the power play becomes a strength for Nashville this season, watch out.Three Stars
F David Legwand
: Had four points (2g-2a) to tie a career-high
F Craig Smith
: Scored Nashville’s first goal and added two assists in 14:28
G Pekka Rinne
: Stopped 31 of 33 shots and once again was at his best lateOne Quote
G Pekka Rinne
: “We faced a good team. They had some momentum going on and we played desperate hockey and won. It’s going to be an exciting year for our division this year, for sure. It seems like every single night it’s going to be a tight game. And that’s the way we like it.”