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Post-Game Musings: at Ottawa

by Doug Brumley / Nashville Predators
A game of alternating goals through two periods ultimately turned into another third-period comeback effort for the Nashville Predators. Defenseman Chris Phillips scored his second goal of the night to put his Ottawa Senators up 4-2 with 7:25 left in regulation, and although Martin Erat tallied with 10 seconds remaining to pull the Predators within one, time ran out on the visitors.

Jason Spezza twice gave the Senators a one-goal lead, opening the scoring and later making it 3-2 near the end of the second frame. Gabriel Bourque and Patric Hornqvist scored Nashville’s first two goals, the latter coming on the power play. Yet it was the Predators’ trips to the penalty box that stung them. Ottawa’s last two goals—one by Phillips, and the eventual game-winner by Spezza—came with the home team playing with a manpower advantage.

The result snaps a seven-game winless skid for the Senators and drops the Predators to 14-4-1 over their last 19 games. The Nashville club concludes its two-game road trip on Saturday, with a noon CT game against the Boston Bruins.

Speed game: For the first two periods especially, Thursday night’s game in Ottawa featured lots of pace, transition plays and odd-man breaks. It was a game well-suited to Predators speedy rookie Gabriel Bourque, who was back in the lineup after not dressing for Nashville’s last two games. Indeed, Bourque made an impact in his return, scoring at 18:46 of the first period to tie the game at 1-1. The goal, a give-and-go play with Jordin Tootoo, was the second of the season for Bourque, who made his NHL debut on Dec. 28, 2011. He has 2 goals and 3 assists in 17 games for Nashville.

Power play: Nashville’s power play, which entered Thursday night’s game ranked third in the NHL (21.7 percent), went 1-for-3 in Ottawa. The lone goal came in the second period when Patric Hornqvist deflected home a Ryan Suter wrist shot 24 seconds into Jim O’Brien’s minor penalty for elbowing. Nashville’s power play units have posted seven goals in the last nine games and have tallied 12 power-play markers in the past 14 games. On the other side of the special teams story, the Predators, who entered the game ranked fifth in the league for fewest penalties, made an uncharacteristic six trips to the sin bin. Ottawa converted on two of six opportunities in what proved to be a key to their win.

Fan favorites: Predators center Mike Fisher was warmly received by fans of his former team Thursday, on his first trip back to Ottawa since his trade to Nashville nearly a year ago. Fisher, who was a very popular member of the Ottawa community, received a standing ovation from the crowd early in the first period. But it was Senators defenseman Chris Phillips who earned the highest praise as first star of the game. The 14-year NHL veteran (all 14 seasons played in a Senators jersey) scored his first and second goals of the 2011-2012 campaign on the very night he celebrated playing in his 1,000th NHL game. Thursday night marked the fourth time in his career that Phillips has netted two goals in a game.

Predators head coach Barry Trotz (after the first period): “That was an all-star format there. It was a real easy game to play. If we’re going to win in this building against a desperate team you can’t play that way. We’re going to have to play a lot harder. Make them defend a little bit against us and make them take the puck off us.”

F, Jason Spezza (OTT): 2 goals, 1 assist, +1, 11-of-20 in the face-off circle
D, Chris Phillips (OTT) 2 goals, game-high 5 hits
F, Martin Erat (NSH) 1 goal, 1 assist, +1

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