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Mully's Musings: vs. Tampa Bay

by Bryan Mullen / Nashville Predators
That’s how you snap a scoring slump.

The Nashville Predators exploded on offense Thursday and manhandled Tampa Bay on their way to a 5-3 victory at Bridgestone Arena. The five goals totaled the same amount Nashville had scored in the previous four games combined, and it was also Nashville’s first home victory of the 2011-12 season.

Mike Fisher busted out in style, rookie Craig Smith continued to make plays on offense, and goaltender Pekka Rinne once again proved why he’s arguably the NHL’s best goaltender.

Nashville jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first, only to see Tampa Bay storm back to tie it 2-2 before the period was over. At the intermission, Predators coach Barry Trotz said he told his players “not to pout about it and man up.” They listened.

On Nashville’s first four goals, the primary assists were just as impressive as the goals, illustrating an overall team offensive effort. The victory was a huge shot of confidence for the Predators, who host Anaheim on Saturday (7 p.m.) at Bridgestone Arena in a Stanley Cup Playoffs rematch.

But first, the musings…

Fisher breaks out: It was only two days ago when Mike Fisher played his first game of the season since undergoing offseason shoulder surgery. There was discussion about how long it would take him to get back in the grove. On Thursday, the answer was clear: not long at all. Fisher scored Nashville’s second and fifth goals, added an assist, and finished with a team-high four shots. He also blocked three shots. It is evident Fisher worked hard to get back. He has been skating since August and conditioning is not an issue. He played 20:24, the highest of any Nashville forward.

Kostitsyn impresses: Sergei Kostitsyn got Nashville off to a great start when he took a perfect pass from Smith and scored at 6:25 of the first. His assist on Fisher’s first goal was similar to the one he received from Smith. Kostitsyn went into the boards awkwardly with 7:59 to go in the second and did not return. Trotz said Kostitsyn may take a maintenance day on Friday and is “fairly optimistic” that he will play Saturday against the Ducks.

Relief for Rinne: By looking at the stat sheet, stopping 29 of 32 shots doesn’t appear to be an all-world performance, but his effort against the Lightning may go down as one of his best performances of his NHL career. He made multiple highlight-worthy plays, including a glove save late in the first that appeared to be an easy goal for Tampa Bay. He got a little more help from his teammates and didn’t have to face 40 or more shots.

Mike Fisher: “We beat a pretty good hockey team. We know we can score goals when we’re skating, when we’re smart with pucks and when we’re patient. We have the guys to do it and we showed it tonight.”

Pekka Rinne: “We have to be happy with this one. We haven’t been playing well at home. It’s a good start. There’s always room to improve, but we’re pleased to get the two points.”

Barry Trotz: “Sergei went down, and I thought he was playing well with Fisher and Smith. And we responded with another goal. I thought that was huge for us. We didn’t let a little adversity affect us.”

F Mike Fisher: 2 goals, 1 assist, 3 blocks, 20:24
G Pekka Rinne: Acrobatic saves, stopped 29 of 32 shots
F Sergei Kostitsyn: Scored game’s first goal, nice assist on Fisher goal

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