Two weeks ago, it was close to panic mode for the Nashville Predators fanbase. Now, since entering the month of November, the Predators are 3-0-2. That’s points in five straight games and two wins in a row. Home cooking has done them well this season as they have a solid 4-1-1 record at Bridgestone Arena. Their 3-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues Thursday night was their second win in a row, and it was the night where left winger Pontus Åberg recorded his first NHL point.
Last season, Åberg skated in two playoff games without registering a point and playing very few minutes. In his second regular season NHL game, he picked up his first point in the NHL, an assist on James Neal’s goal to give the Predators a 2-1 lead in the third period.
“It feels good,” said Åberg on getting a point. “It was a pretty greasy one. I just got the puck to [Ribeiro] and he did the work. It felt good to get the first one there.”
Åberg was called up Tuesday morning prior to Nashville’s game against the Ottawa Senators. In doing so, the Predators sent Kevin Fiala to Milwaukee. In nine games for the Admirals, Åberg has recorded nine points (5G-4A). He’s been on a tear in the AHL and is seeking to make the most of his opportunity with the Predators.
“I’m trying to bring my speed out there and work 100% every day to help the team win and score a few points here and there,” said Åberg.
Predators head coach Peter Laviolette has liked Åberg game thus far, and likes that he’s a homegrown product of the organization.
“He’s another guy that we’ve developed and has come up from Milwaukee and add valuable minutes to our group,” said Laviolette. “He can create offensively, he’s a good skater and I think he’s matured and developed like a lot of our young players. Like Sissons and Arvidsson, there’s been a path for these guys and he’s just another one that’s been able to come up and contribute. I thought he played a good game.”
Early on, Nashville had a slow, sloppy start to the game, giving up a Blues goal 3:59 into the first period. Somehow, they stayed in the game with the help of Pekka Rinne. The power play was dismal during the game, but they continued to find a way. Following a failed attempt to convert on a 5-on-3 power play, Predators forward Calle Jarnkrok tied the game with 1:34 remaining in the second period. It all changed from there.
“Oh, those two amazing goals…Jarny can score, he’s a good player,” said Åberg. “It’s good for him to get those. It was a slow start and we felt we could do better. I think the second period was better than the first and the third was the best. A strong finish and a well-deserved win.”
From then on, it seemed like a different team. James Neal tallied the go-ahead goal early in the third, and Jarnkrok scored again just a minute later. All together, eight different Predators tallied points in the game, three of them being Swedes.
Nashville will finish its home-stand this Saturday against the Anaheim Ducks. The last time these two teams met, it was a 6-1 drubbing in favor of Anaheim, so the Predators have a quick turnaround opportunity for revenge.