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Mully's Musings: vs. Toronto

by Bryan Mullen / Nashville Predators
When the Predators began this five-game home stand, players and coaches said they wanted to parlay their success from the road to Bridgestone Arena.

So far, so good.

Nashville won its second consecutive game by defeating Toronto 4-1 on Thursday night as the Predators’ defense dominated while Martin Erat continued his strong play. Nashville, which has won six of its last nine games, has earned points in 10 of its previous 12 contests.

The offense clicked early in this one as opposed to Tuesday’s game against the Capitals, when Nashville scored three goals in the final period to claim the win. On Thursday, Erat had goals in the opening minutes of the first and third periods, defenseman Ryan Suter put Nashville up 2-1 at 12:42 of the second just after the Leafs tied it at 1-1, and Matt Halischuk added an empty netter.

Preds goaltender Pekka Rinne was on his game once again and stopped 38 of 39 shots. He stopped 22 shots in the third period.

On to the musings…

A pearl of a pairing: Suter and Shea Weber have been dominant this season, and Thursday was another example. Both finished with +4 ratings, Suter had a goal and an assist, and Weber added an assist of his own. Defensively, they shut down Toronto’s top line of Phil Kessel (-4), Joffrey Lupol (-4) and Tyler Bozak (-3). Kessel entered the night leading the NHL in goals (13) and points (25). Suter and Weber have been on the ice for the Preds’ last eight goals going back to the Montreal game on Saturday. Weber now leads the NHL with a +18 rating and Suter is second at +15. Suter also has four goals in 18 games this season. That matches his goal total in the 2010-11 regular season, and his goal total in the 2009-10 regular season. His career high for goals came in 2006-07 when he had eight.

Erat stays hot: After missing some time with an injury, Erat has returned to game action as one of Nashville’s top offensive weapons. He has three goals in the last two games and is coming up in the clutch. Playing on a line with Mike Fisher and Sergei Kostitsyn, who are also back from injury, is creating plenty of scoring chances for Erat, and he is taking advantage. Erat is also playing more aggressively. He led Nashville with five hits.

Getting the point(s): Nashville is in prime position to take advantage of this home stand. The Preds have earned five points through the first three home games to improve to 5-1-1 during the month of November. Next up is Columbus on Saturday, and the Blue Jackets (3-13-2) have the NHL’s worst record. The Preds finish out the home stand against Edmonton on Tuesday, and the Oilers have lost four in a row.

Martin Erat on his recent production: “That’s what we get paid for. It’s 60 minutes and in a couple of games it has gone well for me. We’re doing good things as a team and that’s important.”

Pekka Rinne: “They had 39 shots but didn’t have that many great chances. Every night, it’s a tough game. There are no easy nights. Toronto has some dynamic players who have a lot of speed. They’re going to get some shots. I think for the most part we did a good job keeping them on the outside.”

Ryan Suter: “Tonight was one of those nights when (Toronto) couldn’t get much going. We took advantage of some of their turnovers and some of their mistakes.”

F Martin Erat, Nashville: 2 goals, +3 rating, team-high 5 hits
D Ryan Suter, Nashville: 1 goal, 1 assist, +4 rating
G Pekka Rinne, Nashville: Stopped 38 of 39 shots

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