Photo by Frederick Breedon
Predators goaltender Chris Mason recorded his fourth shutout of the season while making his 18th straight start for Nashville.
The Nashville Predators defeated the Boston Bruins 5-0 Saturday night at the Gaylord Entertainment Center. David Legwand and Shea Weber each scored in the first period and Jerred Smithson and Paul Kariya tallied in the second. Josef Vasicek added one more in the third. Goaltender Chris Mason stopped all 38 shots he faced to record his fourth shutout of the season.
With the win, the Predators' record improves to 26-10-3. The victory came on the heels of a disappointing 4-1 loss in Dallas on Friday--a game in which penalties committed by Nashville were an issue.
"We knew we played a poor game and good teams bounce back after that," Kariya said after the game. "When we have slipped a little bit this year I think we've cut it out early and not let it prolong. We've made some adjustments to our game. I thought we were much better shooting the puck today and getting traffic and we were more disciplined.
"When you play back-to-back games, it's nice after you have a stinker in the first one to get right back on the ice and show what type of team we really are."
Nashville's effort was bolstered by two goals from the line of Smithson, Vasicek and Jordin Tootoo. Vasicek moved to that line as a result of Vern Fiddler's return to game action. Fiddler had missed six contests with a shoulder injury before re-entering the lineup Saturday.
"I thought our best line tonight was the 'Smithers' line with 'Vas' and 'Toots'," Kariya said. "They played really well and created a lot of scoring chances. When your so-called fourth line scores a couple goals like that, that's huge."
Kariya's line, with David Legwand and Martin Erat, got things rolling for the Predators. Legwand finished off a 2-on-1 midway through the first period to put Nashville on the scoreboard early. Defenseman Dan Hamhuis spotted Kariya breaking up the ice and delivered the puck to him. Kariya then set up Legwand with a backhand pass from the right wing. Legwand's high shot as he sped through the left circle beat Boston goaltender Hannu Toivonen to the short side at 9:38.
"It was a real great play," Predators head coach Barry Trotz said. "'P.K.' is one of the best passers, especially on the backhand, old-fashioned backhand. He sold it that he was going to hang onto it and he let the guy open up a little bit and threw it under his stick to 'Leggy'. I think 'Leggy' did a great job of elevating the puck and letting it go right away, before Toivonen could get over. That was a well-executed 2-on-1 but it was sold well by 'P.K.' "
Just under seven minutes later, Fiddler connected with Weber for the Predators' second goal. Fiddler had the puck at the outside edge of the right circle when he sent it to Weber at the top of the zone. Weber's straight-on shot beat Toivonen, who was screened on the play.
"There was a lot of traffic," Weber said. "I'm not sure who exactly [screened Toivonen]. I think [Scott] Hartnell was there [along with Alexander Radulov
]. So, good job by the forwards going to the front of the net."
Midway through the second, Tootoo and his linemates were in the midst of an energizing shift when Predators captain Kimmo Timonen found Tootoo with room above the inside hashmarks of the right circle. Tootoo received Timonen's pass and fired a shot that deflected off Smithson's leg in front and past Toivonen. That made it 3-0 at 10:53.
Kariya increased the margin to four in the final minute of the second period. Boston's Glen Murray was checked by Dan Hamhuis as he attempted to enter the Nashville zone and Murray lost the puck. The puck then hit an official, allowing Legwand to retrieve it along the left boards. He sent a pass up to Kariya in the neutral zone. Kariya moved in on the right wing, took a big windup while studying Toivonen, and released a bullet from the left face-off dot that blew past Toivonen's waving glove hand and into the net.
"I thought we got a big goal from Kariya at the end of the second period to make it 4-0," Trotz said. "I think [when you're up by] three, you give up one and all of the sudden they're back in the game. Four was just that little more room."
"That's a lucky play," Legwand said of his chance to return the favor of an assist to Kariya. "It hit the ref there on the boards and 'P.K.' is behind the 'd' and you know he's going to put those in the net most of the time."
Vasicek made it 5-0 when he scored off a face-off 3:09 into the third period. Smithson won the offensive zone draw to Tootoo on the right side of the circle. Tootoo tapped the puck back to Vasicek for a shot from the high slot. The scoring bid beat Toivonen for Vasicek's third goal of the season.
At the other end, Nashville was much more defensively sound than they were against Dallas on Friday. "I thought we did a good job of not giving them any second chances," Trotz said. "For the most part [Mason] had a good opportunity to see most of the pucks and if he gets a chance to see them he's going to stop them."
The reduced number of trips to the penalty box--and consequently a minimization of power-play time for Boston--was a factor that Trotz stressed in his post-game press conference. "We talk about the 5-0 [score]," he said. "I was more impressed with the discipline that we showed. When we can go with four lines and we can stay out of the penalty box and not allow teams to get an advantage on us, and we use our assets--we've got to be a tougher team to play against every night, and that's not with hits or any of those things. A tougher team to play against is doing the right things at the right time, using our assets of speed and skill in the right areas. We've got a good power play. We've got good goaltending. If we use our assets correctly, then we're a real tough team to play against and we'll go a lot further in what we want to accomplish this year."
NOTES: Paul Kariya posted a goal and an assist and now has points in 8 of the last 10 games. He has collected 6 goals and 8 assists for a total of 14 points over the 10-game span. The Predators are now 11-0-0 when he scores... Chris Mason made his 18th straight start, which is the second longest consecutive start streak by a goaltender in the NHL this season. He recorded his fourth shutout of the season, which ties the club record... Shea Weber scored his first goal since Dec.2 (13 games without a goal). Nashville is 5-0-1 when he scores... Vern Fiddler recorded an assist in his first game back after missing six with injury... Captain Kimmo Timonen posted an assist and has points in six of the last seven games (1g-6a=7pts)... With a goal and an assist, Jerred Smithson recorded his first multi-point game of the season... The Predators outscored the Bruins 2-0 in the first period and have now outscored opponents by a combined 43-29 in the first period. Saturday was Nashville's 14th multi-goal first period in 39 games... Nashville won the second period 2-0 Saturday and have now outscored opponents 55-22 in the second period this season. This was their 16th multi-goal second period... Nashville is: 6-1-0 against the Eastern Conference this season; 17-4-1 when scoring the first goal; 51-25-8 in 2006; 8-2-0 in the last 10 games; 9-5-1 for December; 12-2-3 at home; 18-1-3 when leading after two periods.