Colton Sissons and James Neal both tallied twice and the Nashville Predators cruised to a win over the San Jose Sharks by a 7-2 final on Saturday night at Bridgestone Arena. The result gives the Preds a perfect sweep of their three-game home stand, 87 points overall and a spot back in third place in the Central Division.
Nashville posted seven goals for the first time this season, and combined with Pekka Rinne's fifth consecutive win between the pipes, things are starting to come together for the Preds at just the right time.
"I do [think we're hitting our stride]," Rinne said. "I think at times this year we've been searching for our game and trying to get the mojo and get it going. The consistency, that's been maybe our issue, and lately that's been great, especially this home stand. It's a big time in the season, first of all, and it's a really big week for us. We delivered, and the guys did a really good job."
It didn't take long for Sissons to collect his second goal in as many games when he converted on a scramble in front, and then after scrapping with Micheal Haley earlier in the opening period, Cody McLeod got his fifth of the season. Roman Josi started the play, driving to the net and hitting the crossbar with a shot before McLeod followed it up for the tally and a 2-0 lead after one.
Video: SJS@NSH: McLeod finishes rebound from Josi's rush
San Jose pulled it to within one as the middle period began, but James Neal and P.K. Subban gave the Preds their third and fourth goals of the night for what was a 4-2 advantage after the second 40 minutes.
Sissons got his second of the night when he tipped in a shot from Smith in the third to make it 5-2, and Neal added his second on the power play before Viktor Arvidsson scored shorthanded with less than a minute left to put the exclamation point on Nashville's 38th win of the season.
Video: SJS@NSH: Arvidsson scores late SHG on breakaway
"Hopefully I can continue this hot streak as long as I can," Sissons said. "It feels pretty good. We're winning hockey games and getting crucial points. That's the main goal for us."
It's no secret the Predators enjoy playing within the friendly walls of Bridgestone Arena - their 23-8-7 home record this season reflects that - but to collect six out of six points at this juncture of the campaign added a little something extra.
With just eight games remaining in the regular season schedule, the Predators will now hit the road for dates with the Islanders and Bruins, and Nashville Head Coach Peter Laviolette knows exactly what lies ahead.
"We needed [the points], because everybody keeps winning," Laviolette said. "In the area that we are in the standings there is not a lot of losing going on, and we are just trying to keep pace right now. These games are important. We are headed out for one tough road trip right now, probably the toughest of the year. Seventy games ago we weren't calling this the toughest road trip of the year, but based on where those two teams are at right now, we've got our work cut out for us."
Video: SJS@NSH: Sissons nets Wilson's feed to open scoring
Colton Sissons is doing the scoring; Craig Smith and Colin Wilson are taking care of the dishing.
The trio, together on a line for the second straight game, cashed in again on Saturday night with Sissons scoring twice to go with three assists each from Wilson and Smith. The trio of helpers tied career highs for both players, and each member of the line is playing what is likely their best hockey of the season.
"They're playing great, everybody knows it," Sissons said of his line mates. "They're just making plays constantly. Every shift, we seem to be getting out of our end and creating offense so it's been a lot of fun."
Video: SJS@NSH: Sissons tips home his second of the game
"Some of the goals they are scoring are really nice goals," Laviolette said of the trio. "They are moving the puck well, they are cycling it well. They are hanging onto it, they are finding the holes, and finding the plays they need to make. Since they have been put together they have been constant contributors to the offense."
Simply the Best:
Video: A look back at Pekka Rinne's 500 NHL games
After being honored with a pregame ceremony for appearing in 500 NHL games, goaltender Pekka Rinne went out and did what he's done so many times before at Bridgestone Arena - lead his club to a victory in stellar fashion.
"This press conference isn't long enough," Laviolette said when asked to describe what Rinne means to the franchise. "He is an unbelievable goalie and he's an unbelievable man as well. What he does on the ice is special and what he does off the ice as a person and a human being is special as well. He's been here for a long time and he's given this organization many good years and quality work that has allowed them to be successful. He's been a face of the franchise and he's handled it in such a classy way. We're fortunate to have him here."
Video: SJS@NSH: Predators honor Rinne for 500th career game
Rinne has won five consecutive starts for the first time this season, five more victories in his illustrious career - to this point.
"It was something that I'll remember for sure," Rinne said. "I never once thought growing up that I would play 500 games in the NHL."
Video: Neal, Sissons each score twice in 7-2 victory
Preds Captain Mike Fisher missed his second consecutive game and remains day-to-day with a lower-body injury.
With the home stand finished, the Preds now head to the Northeast to begin the week with a back-to-back set, starting Monday in Brooklyn against the Islanders, followed by a trip to Boston on Tuesday.