Off to the second best start to a season in franchise history, the Nashville Predators delivered plenty of top plays during the opening month of the season.
From forward James Neal's seven goals in October, Mike Ribeiro's five-game point streak, to goaltender Pekka Rinne's 6-2-1 start to the campaign, selecting just a few of the best plays wasn't easy. See below our efforts at compiling the top goal, assist, hit and save of the month.
Top Goal of the Month:
Eric Nystrom's backhand tally off the rush past Stars goaltender Anders Lindback: Watch as Nystrom shields the puck from Jason Spezza's reaching poke check and then elevates the biscuit above Lindback's pad and just below the glove. The goal stretched Nashville's lead to two in the third period and marked the winger's second goal in two games to open the campaign.
Top Goal of the Month (Honorable Mention):
Shea Weber swings wide with a wrap-around backhander: After Filip Forsberg split two Senators defenders and backhanded the puck just wide, it appeared the Preds had missed out on their opportunity to break a 1-1 tie. Shortly after the missed shot, however, Weber pinched to collect the puck in the far corner before skating behind the Sens' net to beat Craig Anderson to the far post.
Best Pass of the Month:
Mike Ribeiro's drop pass between the legs to James Neal: Two passes with the perfect amount of touch contributed to Neal's game-tying tally late in the third period against the Arizona Coyotes. First, defenseman Ryan Ellis takes a swing at the puck in the neutral zone to chip the play ahead to an on-rushing Ribeiro. Finally, and most importantly, Ribeiro fakes a shot in order to freeze goaltender Devan Dubnyk before dropping the puck to Neal for a one-time strike. Colin Wilson's dish through four players to Taylor Beck for the tap-in:
Best Pass of the Month (Honorable Mention):
How Wilson saw Beck on the backdoor is still hard to tell even after you've watched this goal a few different times. The forward threaded the needle through three Oilers defenders and past teammate Olli Jokinen to connect with Beck off the rush. After such an incredible feed, all Beck was left to do was convert on the redirect.
Hardest Hit of the Month:
Ryan Ellis flattens Taylor Hall in front of the net: Trailing by three goals early in the final frame, the Oilers Taylor Hall tried to cut inside on the Preds defender, who was having none of it. Ellis stepped up on Hall and sent him to the deck just outside the Nashville crease.
Hardest Hit of the Month (Honorable Mention):
Shea Weber decks Antoine Roussel:
The Stars forward made the mistake of trying to use speed to skate past Weber on the outside. The Preds Captain simply put his shoulder into Roussel and ended any kind of offensive opportunity for Dallas.
Incredible Save of the Month:
Pekka Rinne stops Kris Versteeg with the right pad: Nursing a two-goal lead in the third period, the Preds were on all out defense in their own end before the Blackhawks Brent Seabrook found a wide open Kris Versteeg in the high slot. Rinne flung his body to the far post at the last moment to block Versteeg's one-time bid.Incredible Save of the Month (Honorable Mention):
Pekka Rinne nonchalantly blanks Johnny Gaudreau:
The one they call "Johnny Hockey" broke through the Preds defense before Rinne calmly denied the partial-breakaway chance. Gaudreau deked around Nashville blueliner Anton Volchenkov and then found himself one-on-one with Rinne, who ultimately turned away the forehand chance with his pad.
Quite an impressive first month for the club from Music City all in all. Think you have a better play in mind? Let us know in the comments below.