Almost eight years and four teams later later, Fiddler was back on the score sheet for the Predators, scoring in the second period of a 5-4 win over Edmonton Oilers. It was his first goal since November 26th, 2016 and his first since being traded back to the Predators on February 4th.
The play began with Roman Josi entering the zone and and making a great move to get free in the slot. He dropped the puck to Fiddler at the right circle, who fired it just over the shoulder of goaltender Cam Talbot.
Fiddler gave plenty of credit to Josi’s play to set him up.
“Obviously, it’s always nice to score,” he said. “You have to do the little things right, and sometimes you get rewarded. Josi made a great play with P.K. and I just happened to get a good shot away.”
Fiddler started his NHL career with the Predators in 2002-03, scoring 45 goals in six seasons in Nashville. After stints with the Arizona Coyotes, Dallas Stars and New Jersey Devils, he was traded back to the Predators this February in exchange for a 2017 fourth-round draft pick.
Even in joining a team he spent six seasons with, Fiddler said he needed some time to acclimate to head coach Peter Laviolette’s system.
“There’s always going to be and adjustment,” he said. “You have to play in a new system with new surroundings. Obviously, sometimes it takes a little bit of time. Sometimes, you’re thinking a little too much because the systems are different, but I’m starting to get the gist of things and hopefully things will just keep going well.”
“The goal was great for him,” Laviolette said. “You like to see guys like that who are in the trenches being able to chip in offensively. The goal was a big thing.”
On top of that, Laviolette pointed to another key stat for the veteran: faceoffs. Fiddler won 10 of his 15 faceoffs against the Oilers, many of which were in key situations in the third period. Laviolette said that Fiddler’s faceoff prowess in key situations will be his biggest takeaway from the game.
For the last few games, Fiddler has centered James Neal on his line. Neal had a strong game as well, grabbing three assists on the night. Having a great shooter like Neal on the line provides a big boost, according to Fiddler.
“He’s a skilled guy and he’s a guy that can really make plays,” Fiddler said of Neal. “He’s good defensively and it’s easy to play with a guy like that.”
With the win on Sunday, the Predators finished up a homestand in which they picked up seven of eight possible points. Nashville now sits in third place in the Central Division, and have a seven-point cushion on a playoff spot.
Fiddler, who has been through numerous playoff runs in his career, is ready for the challenge.
“It’s going to be a grind to the bitter end to make the playoffs,” he said. “We just want to keep climbing the standings as much as we can, and you’ve got to play good hockey. There are guys that have played some really good hockey here. We’ve got to keep getting better as a team every game.”
The Predators hit the road to take on the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday. Puck drop is scheduled for 6 PM central time.