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Mully's Musings: vs. San Jose

by Bryan Mullen / Nashville Predators
The Nashville Predators welcomed back defenseman Francis Bouillon and forward Mike Fisher on Tuesday against San Jose, but it wasn’t quite enough as the Sharks exited Bridgestone Arena with a 3-1 victory. Nashville is still looking for its first home victory, and will once again have a chance on Thursday when they host Tampa Bay.

Shots on goal continued to be an issue for the Predators, who were outshot 36-20 on Tuesday (it was noted by multiple Preds players and coach Barry Trotz that many of San Jose’s shots were from long range). Trotz said he has pleased with the quality of shots his players are taking. Nashville did have 45 shot attempts against San Jose, with 21 of them coming from defenseman.

San Jose took a 1-0 lead in the first on a shorthanded goal by Logan Couture, but Nashville showed some spunk in the third and tied it at 1-1 when rookie Craig Smith scored on the power play. But just 57 seconds later, the Sharks’ Joe Pavelski scored to grab the momentum back. He added an empty-netter with 1:12 to go.

On to the musings…

Back in action: It was difficult to tell that Bouillon had missed 44 games and nearly six months since suffering a concussion last season. He played 17:32, showed some physicality, and even bounced back quickly after taking a hit to the head area. Fisher returned to game action for the first time in 2011-12 after undergoing offseason shoulder surgery. He played well alongside Sergei Kostitsyn and Smith, and the line had multiple scoring chances, with one coming just four minutes into the game. Fisher played 19:30 and picked up an assist. With those two back in the lineup, Nashville will benefit greatly in terms of experience and talent.

Superb Smith: There is no question Smith is benefitting from playing with Fisher and Kostitsyn, but it appears the standout rookie would produce with anyone. Smith had a team-high six shots, including a boomer with 1:27 to go that had San Jose goalie Antti Niemi scrambling a bit. His power play goal was even more impressive considering he did some hard work behind the goal to feed Shea Weber, who assisted on Smith’s score.

Tootoo energized: The reemergence of Jordin Tootoo continues. His motor is running high but he is playing under control. His role as an agitator was perfectly illustrated in the period when he drew two penalties. Tootoo is also upping his offensive production and was third on the team in shots with three.

Mike Fisher on his return: “My legs feel alright and battling felt pretty good. Other than the loss, I didn’t feel too bad.”

G Pekka Rinne: “We’ve been working to make our game better, and we’re getting better. It seems like it takes a little bit of time to get the result. I can only talk about myself, and I’m disappointed how it ended by letting that goal in.”

Coach Barry Trotz on return of Bouillon and Fisher: “For the first time in awhile, I didn’t feel like we were outmanned. It was really stabilizing having them in the lineup. We were able to do some things that we weren’t able to do before.”

G Pekka Rinne: Stopped 33 of 35 shots
F Craig Smith: 1 goal, team-high six shots
F Jordin Tootoo: Full-out hustling, drew two penalties in the third

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