Above: Hear from Mike Fisher, Colton Sissons, P.K. Subban, Filip Forsberg, Pekka Rinne and Peter Laviolette.
With points in six of their last eight games, the Predators are on a roll compared to the dismal start they had to the season. Players that are expected to score for Nashville are contributed, and each one of them found the scoresheet Wednesday night. Scoring opened with a tremendous play by P.K. Subban to find Filip Forsberg who then put the puck in the back of the net. Following the goal, Forbserg had a thankful celebration directed at Subban.
“He’s pretty fired up,” said Subban. “[Forsberg]’s a special player. His skill and talents is shoulders above a lot of guys in this league. Whenever he’s on the ice you just try to get him the puck in those scoring areas, and you know he’s going to do something with it. That play I just kind of looked over and he was still looking at me. You know that’s the sign of a great player when they can understand and see the play developing beforehand. It was an easy play for me but that looked like a tough goal to finish but he finished it, and I’m not surprised he did.”
Forsberg understands that when he’s out there with Subban, he has to be ready for anything.
“Obviously he has proven himself to be one of the best defensemen in the league and that’s the type of plays he can make,” said Forsberg. “Whenever you’re out there, you’ve got to expect the unexpected I guess and just be ready for anything.”
Into the second, the Predators continued scoring when Mike Fisher added his fourth of the year. It was surviving the onslaught of shots from the Stars, however, that really played in Nashville’s favor. Pekka Rinne faced 22 shots in the second, and he made the save on each one of them.
“Peks played really good,” said Forsberg. “He kept us in the game for the first two periods and in the third I think we raised our level of our own game. Obviously we were able to battle through it.”
Early on in the third, Dallas finally got on the board with a shorthanded goal, but the Predators immediately responded by scoring during the same power play. Head coach Peter Laviolette was pleased with how his team responded.
“That was a really big goal,” said Laviolette. “Because at that point they had fired a lot of shots and a lot of attempts; one of the power players had a chance to really blow it open and when we give one back the other way, I don’t think there was much time left in the power play – maybe 25 seconds or so – and to go out there and get it in and get it to the net and to score a goal and to take back the two goals at that point was really important.
With the expected forwards scoring, the defense having a solid game and Pekka Rinne stopping 33 out of 35 shots, Nashville is continuing to creep up the standings. It wasn’t a strong game, like it was against Tampa Bay on Monday, but they put pucks past a struggling goaltender and sustained a lead.
One of the underlying stories from the night was the play of the fourth line of Colton Sissons, Austin Watson and Calle Jarnkrok. It’s not too often that fourth line players receive a lot of minutes, but Sissons registered 14:09 on the ice including 1:47 of time on the penalty kill. Their energy and responsible play has led to more opportunities for the team.
“The key to us shutting them down was playing with the puck in their end,” said Sissons. “I feel like we had most of our time on the ice in the offensive zone which is always nice because it’s tough sledding sometimes always chasing the puck defensively, so it was good having it like that.”
What’s even more important for that line is not only are they hard on the forecheck and stopping the opposition, they’re creating opportunities and winning face offs. Calle Jarnkrok was the best on the dot Wednesday night winning 11 of 17 draws.
“We’re all pretty confident in ourselves as offensive players,” said Sissons. “We take care of things on the other side of the puck, but we’re all capable of scoring and generating offense so we’re always looking for that too.”
If all four lines can continue to roll, it’ll be very difficult for teams to stop the Predators. In the past, Nashville was a one-dimensional team where the opposing team only had to worry about stopping one line. Now, the Predators have three lines that can truly generate offense, along with a fourth line that has the most offensive upside the team has seen in years.
The Predators finish their three-game homestand on Friday by taking on another divisional rival, the Winnipeg Jets.