Five different skaters found the back of the net as the Nashville Predators put together a 5-3 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night at Pepsi Center.
The victory was Nashville's third on the road this season and improves their overall mark to 11-8-3, with wins in three of their last four outings, and a solid road triumph to close out the month of November.
"I liked the way we played tonight," Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. "We had timely goals and did some good things offensively. They're a dangerous team, they have a lot of talent over there and they had plenty of looks… I thought we could've played a little cleaner though the neutral zone, but overall a pretty good game and when we needed big saves, Pekka [Rinne] made them."
Gordie Howe Hat Trick:
Video: NSH@COL: Watson scores with tip through his legs
Named after one of the greatest to ever play the game, a Gordie Howe Hat Trick occurs when a player records a goal, assist and a fight all in the same game. Austin Watson did just that on Tuesday while playing a major role in the Preds victory.
After setting up Mike Fisher for Nashville's first goal of the night, Watson scrapped with Cody McLeod in the second period, and then No. 51 got his stick on a Roman Josi point shot in the third frame to redirect home his first goal of the season.
"Unbelievable," center Ryan Johansen said of Watson. "He doesn't get enough credit sometimes, so he deserves a lot of credit tonight. He played a huge game for us."
"He's staying out there trying to make a difference," Laviolette said of Watson. "Whether it's offensively or defensively, physically, he's just been noticeable. [He went to Milwaukee and gained] just a little bit of confidence and the more he plays, the more opportunity he gets, the better he looks."
Video: Preds strike quickly in 5-3 win against the Avalanche
As Watson said a month ago, he reiterated his belief that he's never been more comfortable at the NHL level than he is now.
"This is the best I've felt playing at this level, just coming back with the confidence to just go play my game," Watson said. "I want to bring what I can to the table, and I feel like I can contribute when given the chance. I think individual success goes as the team goes as well, that's a great road win for us tonight. Everybody pulled the rope and a lot of guys got on the board, but most importantly, we got the two points."
Video: NSH@COL: Arvidsson breaks in and buries one top shelf
It didn't take Viktor Arvidsson long - just seven seconds into the second period - to record his seventh goal of the season and give the Preds just about as early of a lead into the period as possible. In fact, the goal tied a Nashville franchise record for the fastest goal to start a period. And it helped give the Preds the boost they needed.
"That was huge as well," Johansen said of Arvidsson's goal. "It was a tie game at that point, 1-1, so that was great play by Subban, great speed by Arvi to break through the D and put it top shelf, that was a big goal for us to get the lead."
Video: NSH@COL: Johansen balances on one skate and scores
Ryan Johansen needed a few more ticks into the third period than Viktor Arvidsson did in the second - 34 seconds to be exact - but it was worth the wait. Johansen's goal was one of the highlight reel variety, deking around an Avalanche defender before driving his way to the net and scoring while on one leg to give the Preds a 4-2 lead early in the final frame.
What proved to be the eventual game-winner was Johansen's fourth tally in his last four games. Currently, the centerman is playing some of his best hockey since arriving in Nashville.
"That felt good; I don't think I've done that since juniors," Johansen laughed. "We knew we had to come out flying in the third and had a couple big goals to start, which was obviously huge, so I'm happy with that."
"You're going out to the third period and you have a team that's hungry to win a game and the goal, that just a beautiful goal," Laviolette said. "But to give you that little bit of cushion is good, you knew that they were going to come offensively so to get that padding was good."
Anthony Bitetto recorded an assist on Mike Fisher's goal for his first point of the season. Bitetto later left the game with an upper-body injury and did not return
Preds forward Frederick Gaudreau assisted on Austin Watson's goal, his first point in the NHL.
With a goal and an assist on Tuesday, Ryan Johansen now has seven points (4g-3a) in his last four games and four points (2g-2a) in two games against the Avalanche this season.
Nashville's next game comes Saturday afternoon when the Preds host the New Jersey Devils at Bridgestone Arena for a 1 p.m. (CT) start, followed by a Sunday evening contest against the Philadelphia Flyers (5 p.m. CT). For tickets to the special Family Weekend, click here.