Shea Weber and Colin Wilson each had a goal and two assists as the Nashville Predators defeated the Montreal Canadiens 5-1 at Bridgestone Arena on Monday night. The win gave Nashville consecutive victories for the first time since Nov. 14 and 17.
Scoring was prevalent for the Preds, but Pekka Rinne also played a large role, making 35 saves on his way to win No. 14 on the season.
“He was really good tonight; he was sharp,” Head Coach Peter Laviolette said of his goaltender.
“Not only was it the quantity of saves he had to make, but the quality as well; there was lots of chances, big saves at the right time.
“Our guys were opportunistic. We got on the power play, scored some goals by our defensemen and when we had the opportunity, we made the most of them. We didn’t have that many, but when we did have the looks, we were able to get it behind him.”
The Preds top defensive pair of Weber and Roman Josi teamed up to give Nashville a 1-0 lead at the 8:40 mark of the opening frame. Josi lugged the puck across the top of the Montreal zone before dropping to Weber for a one-timer at the right point. The Captain blasted a shot past the blocker of Dustin Tokarski for his 10th goal of the season.
It was the same defensive duo combining again in the second, this time with the man advantage, as Weber fed Josi, again at the right point, as the Preds leading scorer wired a shot home for his ninth on the campaign. The marker was Nashville’s third power-play goal in the last three games.
The scoring from the blue line continued in the third, when Ryan Ellis looked for Craig Smith across the crease, but the pass instead deflected off a Montreal defender and into the net, giving Ellis his third on the season and Nashville a 3-0 lead. The tally also brought about the end of Tokarski’s night, in favor of Mike Condon in goal.
Calle Jarnkrok welcomed Condon to the game by beating him top shelf at 8:58 of the third period to give the crowd Frostys and the Preds a 4-0 advantage. Alex Galchenyuk broke Pekka Rinne’s shutout bid on the power play at 12:08, but Wilson tallied his second goal of the season into an empty net to seal the victory for the Preds.
Combined with two assists, Wilson registered his second multi-point night of the season, an outing that can provide confidence to the forward who is hoping to soon break through with regularity.
“He was strong,” Laviolette said of Wilson. “It’s nice to see him cash in some points and he can take that and build some confidence from it.”
The Preds will enjoy some time off, but look forward to returning soon enough to improve from the win over Montreal.
“When you get some time off it’s always nice to do well and win,” Weber said. “Obviously not our best game, but that was a desperate team over there, and you could tell how hungry they were. I thought guys did a good job battling, blocking shots and killing some penalties. They got on a 4-on-3 there, but Pekka did great; you can’t say enough on how well he did. He gave us a chance to win there.”
Christmastime is Here:
Four days off between games can seem like an eternity in the middle of an NHL season, but with the Christmas break arriving, the Predators will enjoy the respite before hosting Detroit on Saturday. No doubt entering the hiatus with two-straight wins makes for a happier holiday.
“I think anytime putting two wins together, it’ll make the break a little bit nicer,” Wilson said. “For four days I think everybody will be thinking about it. It felt good, and we’ll try to use that momentum after the break.”
The remaining 48 games won’t get any easier for the Preds, but Nashville is more than willing to take on the challenge. They know there is still ground to gain in the ultra-competitive Central, the perfect test for what may be ahead come this spring.
“It was good for us to get this last win before we go on the break and try build our momentum a little bit, try to get our record back up,” Laviolette said. “We’re in a funny, peculiar situation where we’re a few points out of a playoff spot and then we’re a few points off second place. We have to continue to win if we want to push up north in the standings.”
Gif of the Game:
Two Major League Baseball players and Vanderbilt University Alums, David Price and Sonny Gray, show their approval of the Preds taking a 4-0 lead.
Shea Weber on his defense partner Roman Josi:
“He’s going to keep getting better because he’s still young. He’s got a lot of good hockey left ahead of him. I think everyone has realized how good he is, and if you haven’t, then you’re going to have to turn on some of our games because he’s obviously a special player.”
With three points against the Canadiens, Shea Weber has scored 15 points in the month of December, more than any other player in the NHL.
The Predators have points in eight-straight games against the Canadiens (5-0-3) and have not lost a game in regulation to Montreal at Bridgestone Arena since March 10, 2003 (their only home regulation loss to them).
The Predators will now have four days between games due to the NHL’s Christmas break. The Preds host the Detroit Red Wings Dec. 26, and then welcome the New York Rangers to town two days later.
Monday's infographic sheds some light on Shea Weber's incredible point production during December.
Infographic: Preds End a Hab-it