Find ways to win. That’s what this season’s Nashville Predators have done. Everyone contributes, everyone knows their role. They have yet to lose two games in a row, and with the 3-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday night, they improved to 24-9-3 and lead the season series against the Blues 3-1. In order to win against St. Louis, it wasn’t just the usual suspects tallying points. Olli Jokinen registered two assists, Gabriel Bourque had a goal and an assist, and Paul Gaustad recorded an assist. Depth scoring is key to a team’s success and it showed Tuesday night.
“It’s something where on this team, everyone has to contribute,” said Paul Gaustad. “Whether it be offense of defense, find a way to contribute to the game. We’ve done a good job of doing that so far this year.”
In addition to the 13:28 Gaustad spent on the ice, he also spent 4:02 on the penalty kill, a unit that has been very successful of late.
“We had a tough start there on the penalty kill at the beginning of the year,” said Gaustad. “We knew we the guys in here and the motivation and the crew that could get it done. We’ve slowly turned it around. It’s a lot of work and we have to stick with it, but it’s starting to go our way.”
Head coach Peter Laviolette was also very impressed with the penalty kill units against the Blues.
“The penalty kill has been real strong, you think about tonight, this is one of the top power play units in the league,” said Laviolette. “They have a lot of skill over there, they move the puck well, they have excellent shooters and I thought our penalty kill did an excellent job.”
Part of the success on the penalty kill against the Blues was the Predators tallying their first shorthanded goal of the season from Shea Weber when he and Josi broke out of the zone on a two-on-one.
“Nystrom and I decided to play defense that shift and those guys (Weber and Josi) try offense,” said Gaustad jokingly about what led to the goal. “But really, it was a bounce on the rebound and those guys jumped on it. They did a great job on the back end and they had the opportunity and went for it.”
For tonight’s game, there was a minor shake up in the lines as well, and Gaustad centered a line with Olli Jokinen and Gabriel Bourque. While there are minor adjustments to make when skating with different players, Gaustad trusts the system.
“There are little things that each guy brings to the system that’s a little different, but in our system, everybody is supposed to play the same way,” said Gaustad. “So, it’s not too difficult because everyone is working hard and on the same page.”
Face offs are also an integral part of winning games against tough teams like St. Louis. Not only do they have powerful offensive weapons, they have big body centers like David Backes. On the night, Gaustad was won 8 of 15 draws for 53%.
“Every team now has a good draw guy,” said Gaustad. “It’s been a battle and I think everybody on our team pitches in, not just the centermen, it’s the wingers and the defensemen that are helping out.”
Looking ahead, the Predators will have three days without games, with their next one against Los Angeles on Saturday afternoon. They play again Sunday evening against Anaheim. Having two sets of back-to-back games can be tiring, but the rest in between will help. In terms of preparation, it’s not any different than any other week.
“It’s nice to get some rest now, but everybody has to deal with it during the season,” said Gaustad. “You have to come out and be prepared for every game.”
Speaking of having some days off without games, Gaustad has very simple plans to celebrate the New Year.
View all of head coach Peter Laviolette’s press conference: