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Post-Game Musings: vs. Carolina

by Jim Diamond / Nashville Predators
Two days after a disappointing result against the visiting Dallas Stars, the Predators responded with a much better effort Saturday night in defeating the Carolina Hurricanes 5-2 in front of a franchise-record eighth consecutive sellout Bridgestone Arena crowd.

Captain Shea Weber’s goal at 9:14 of the first got the Predators on the board and they never looked back. The offense clicked for four power-play goals later in the game, two from Patric Hornqvist and one each from rookies Craig Smith and Ryan Ellis. The four power-play goals scored in the game tied for the third most in franchise history. The Preds moved the puck around the Carolina zone with crisp passes.

Pekka Rinne made some key saves when the score was still tight to help the Predators defeat the Hurricanes and head coach Kirk Muller, who began this season as the bench boss of the Milwaukee Admirals, Nashville’s top developmental affiliate.

Power Play is Back: After not registering a goal with the man-advantage in the last five games, Nashville’s power play returned with authority Saturday night against Carolina. Four of the team’s goals on the night were on the power play. Craig Smith broke his personal dry spell with his power-play marker at 13:16 of the first. Standing in the left circle, Smith took a smooth cross-ice pass from David Legwand and one-timed it low to the stick side of Carolina goaltender Justin Peters. Patric Hornqvist struck twice on the power play with the first coming at 17:04 of the second. Located in his familiar position right in front of the opponent’s netminder, Hornqvist was able to get a piece of Mike Fisher’s shot and deflect it by Peters to give the Predators a 3-0 lead heading into the third period. Hornqvist struck again, giving the sold out Bridgestone Arena crowd their much desired free Wendy’s Frosty. Lying on his stomach in the crease, Hornqvist was able to tap his second of the night by Peters. Ryan Ellis’ power-play goal capped the scoring at 14:28 of the third.

First Point then First Goal:
Playing in his fifth career NHL game, Ellis recorded his first NHL point on Hornqvist’s second period power-play goal. Ellis’ shot from the right side deflected onto Fisher’s stick before his shot was tipped in by Hornqvist. Not satisfied with just one point in the game, Ellis grabbed his first NHL goal late in the third with a hard slap shot from the top of the right faceoff circle. Following the game, Coach Barry Trotz said that Ellis was inserted into the lineup because he has played well defensively and could also jump-start the power play. Ellis is the second Predator in as many games to record his first NHL marker after Gabriel Bourque accomplished the same milestone Thursday night against Dallas.

Fisher 200: Fisher set a season high and tied a career high with three assists in Saturday’s game. All three of his assists came on power-play goals. Fisher had two assists in consecutive games November 15th and 17th against Washington and Toronto. The three Saturday helpers gave the Peterborough, Ontario native 200 career NHL assists. It was the Predators assistant captain’s third three-assist game, with his last coming January 18, 2010, less than a month before the February 10th trade that brought the longtime Ottawa Senator to Nashville.

D Ryan Ellis (First Career Goal): “It was just good puck movement. Our power play seemed to be moving the puck pretty well tonight. (Roman) Josi did a great job with a fake shot and kind of sucked in a couple of their guys and left me wide open. I just tried to get it to the net.”

F Patric Hornqvist (Goal Scored Lying in Crease): “I saw the goalie didn’t have it, so I poked it from the goalie. Fisher and Marty put it on the goal line for me. I was lying on my back and I saw it and fired it in the back of the net.”

D Shea Weber (Power Play Success): “Being able to make those passes and making them quick, they started forcing us and we were able to bypass the pressure and score some goals.”

F Patric Hornqvist, Nashville: Two goals and a disallowed marker midway through the third to deny his first career hat trick
F Mike Fisher, Nashville: Tied a career high with three assists; all of which were on the power play
D Ryan Ellis, Nashville: First career goal and assist

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