Mike Fisher’s 1,000th NHL game didn’t produce a win for the Nashville Predators, but his club still set a franchise record in the contest.
Nashville’s 5-4 overtime loss to the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night at Bridgestone Arena gave the Preds at least a point for the 11th consecutive game, a franchise record. The Predators are 7-0-4 during the streak.
“It’s been a great stretch,” Fisher said. “It’s disappointing tonight to lose that way. It wasn’t our best, but we just have to regroup and have a good game in a couple of nights and forget about this one. Just keep rolling here, and keep our confidence high, and forget about it.”
Craig Smith opened the scoring for the third consecutive game, this time on the power play, when he one-timed a Shea Weber pass from the left circle and past Keith Kinkaid for a 1-0 lead. Weber’s helper was the 183rd point on the man advantage of his career, giving him sole possession of first place in the category in Predators franchise history.
After the Devils evened things with their own power-play chance, Nashville got another marker with the extra skater, as Mike Ribeiro tipped home a Roman Josi point shot for his seventh of the season and a 2-1 lead heading into the first intermission.
Paul Gaustad put the Preds up 3-1 early in the second frame when he took an Austin Watson pass in the slot and slid the puck five hole on Kinkaid. New Jersey battled back, however, with a goal from Devante Smith-Pelly in his Devils debut and a power-play marker from Travis Zajac at 9:13 of the third to even things at 3-3.
Then, it was Filip Forsberg, potting his 27th of the season with just over two minutes remaining in regulation to give Nashville a 4-3 lead. The goal sets a career high for Forsberg, besting last season’s total of 26 goals. But New Jersey refused to go away, and Adam Henrique tied the game with 40 seconds remaining to force overtime.
In the extra session, it was Henrique once more who scored the game winner on the power play to hand Nashville their first loss in the last six games.
“Every game, you want to keep getting better, even when you are winning,” Weber said. “We’re still going over things we need to improve on and tomorrow will be the same as normal. We are going to review what we need to be better at; I’m sure we’ll go over some things on the PK, 5-on-5, and then on to Colorado. Another big game and we have to move past this.”
From here, Nashville heads west to meet the Avalanche to start a five-game road trip, their longest stretch away from home since January, and an excursion that presents a possible 10 more points for the taking.
“It’s been a tough year as far as stringing points together like that for us,” Weber said. “Kudos to the guys right now that are playing well and buckling down here down the stretch. But we haven’t accomplished anything yet. There’s a long way to go and we have to keep going.”
Gif of the Game:
Filip Forsberg and a group of Preds fans share a special moment after the forward sets a career high in goals with 27.
Peter Laviolette on Craig Smith’s recent play:
“I think he’s played really well. He played well in the second period and the third period. That line was excellent, once again, tonight. They are working extremely hard out there and because of that they are generating chances. I can’t answer your question per se other than to agree with you that he’s playing well in the first period, and I think he’s playing well in the second [period] and third as well.”
Mike Fisher is the 301st player in NHL history to play in 1,000 NHL games.
Shea Weber passed Kimmo Timonen for first in power-play points in Preds franchise history with his assist on Craig Smith’s first period goal. Weber has 78 goals and 105 assists with the man advantage in his career.
The Preds are set to embark on a five-game road trip, beginning Saturday afternoon against the Colorado Avalanche. Nashville will then make stops in Winnipeg, Calgary, Vancouver and Edmonton over the next week and a half.
A certain Carrie Underwood lyric finds its way onto the infographic in honor of Mike Fisher.
Infographic: Points in 11-Straight