The Nashville Predators are finding all sorts of ways to score while off to their hot 10-3-2 start. Tuesday evening, Matt Cullen found a fun way to score that almost paid homage to a hockey legend. Midway through the first period, Seth Jones fired the puck from the high slot, which deflected just wide of Edmonton goaltender Viktor Fasth. With Cullen battling for position in front of the net, he dove after the puck and, while in mid-air, swatted the puck into the net on the back hand to put Nashville up 2-0.
“It was kind of a funny bounce off the back wall there,” said Cullen. “It was nice to get a jump on it and see it go in.”
Those of you familiar with hockey legends can see the image in your head of Bobby Orr flying through the air as he scored the Stanley Cup-winning overtime goal against the St. Louis Blues in 1970. According to Nashville Predators head coach Peter Laviolette, it was the kind of goal true athletes score.
“Certainly that was a big goal,” said Laviolette. “It’s nice to have him back in the lineup. That’s an athletic goal.”
Cullen’s goal extended the early lead for the Predators as they completely dominated the Oilers in the first period. Coming out strong to start the game was an important strategy for Nashville.
“It’s something we talk a lot about coming off a long road trip historically teams have had a tendency to come out flat and behind the eight-ball a little bit,” said Cullen. “I thought we did a good job of really coming out and putting the attack to them and getting pucks in behind them and getting on the forecheck. It was nice to put a few pucks in early. It gave us a good opportunity to win the game.”
While the Predators played a tremendous first period, including 17 total shots on net, their second period effort saw them hit a snag against a talented team.
“They’re a very skilled and fast team,” said Cullen on the second period. “They pushed back and I think we would have preferred to play a little bit better in the second and keep the game under control, but sometimes that happens. It’s nice to respond in the third with a good period.
Though Nashville didn’t tally a goal in the third period, they pushed back and generated opportunities as well as limiting chance for Edmonton.
“I really like the way we played the third period,” said Peter Laviolette. “We still had some chances. We had some looks and we still pressed for offense but we did it in a smart manner. We didn’t allow too much against us. Sometimes you have to win a game 3-2. I was happy with the third period in the sense that the guys kept competing and kept playing. We were fairly tight.”
The win Tuesday night made it three in a row for the Nashville Predators, and this was a big one to get at home following a six-game road trip.
“It’s nice, we love playing here,” said Cullen. “It’s a fun place to play. It’s nice to come home and here we go again back on the road tomorrow.”
Thursday night finds the Predators back on a road for a game in St. Louis before coming back to Nashville on Saturday against the Jets. So far, Nashville is 5-1-1 at home. A strong start to the season at home and it’s something that Captain Shea Weber noted is important to the team.
“We take a lot of pride in playing at home,” said Weber. “I think it’s always been that way here. We like to perform when we’re here in front of our crowd and give them what they want to see and we did that tonight.”
View the entire press conference for head coach Peter Laviolette below:
Image courtesy of Frederick Breedon