Colton Sissons had other plans.
Playing sans Mike Fisher for the second straight game, the Predators got a big boost from Sissons, who netted a brace in a whopping 7-2 win over the Sharks. The 23-year-old has three goals in the last two games, playing on the second line with Craig Smith and Colin Wilson.
The youngster has been in the NHL for three seasons, but said he is starting to find his stride as a big-league player.
“Probably the most confident,” Sissons said of his attitude right now. “That’s what I’ve been battling all year to do, just keep my confidence high. It’s probably the best its been since I’ve been playing in the NHL these past few seasons. Hopefully that continues into the playoffs too.”
Sissons got the scoring started in the first period with a pretty backhander, crashing the net and burying a behind-the-back Wilson feed.
That goal was the result of some budding chemistry between the two linemates, who were only put together when Fisher went down with an injury.
“I was hopeful because we kind of caught each other’s eye, and I saw him spinning around, so I was just hoping it would find my tape, and it sure did.”
His second goal also came at the netfront, redirecting a Smith slapshot in the third period to pad Nashville’s lead. Sissons said that getting to the front of the net is an essential part of how he plays the game, and is having good results right now.
“Yeah, I’ve heard that’s where some goals tend to go in, so I’ve been trying to get there as much as I can,” he said. “Obviously, it hasn’t been coming too easily this season, and it feels good when they go in for me.”
Aside from finding the back of the net, Sissons has also been a workhorse in the faceoff dot. He won 63 percent of his 19 faceoffs, the second-best on the team next to Ryan Johansen. That number is even more impressive considering the talent at center on the other side of the dot, including Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski.
Head coach Peter Laviolette said that Sissons was a big part of how good the Predators were on draws in this game.
“We were good in the circle tonight against a very good faceoff team as well,” he said. “They’re one of the best, and that’s going back to Colton and him coming back in the lineup. We knew that he was a good centerman, and we wanted him to start getting 50%+ in those battles.”
In the two games the Wilson-Sissons-Smith line has been together, the three forwards have combined for a total of 12 points. When Fisher returns to the lineup, it’s anyone’s guess as to how the lineup will look.
In any case, Sissons will be ready for whatever decision Laviolette makes.
“Obviously, that’s totally up to the coaches,” Sissons said. “Fish has been great for us all year long. We’ll just see what happens. Any way I can help our team, whether that’s on the second line or the fourth line, whatever it may be, I’ll do it.”
As the playoffs approach, the Predators seem to be hitting their stride at the right time. A win against a top playoff team like the Sharks can only help with that.
“Obviously, there’s a little bad blood between us and the Sharks from last year in the playoffs,” Sissons said. “We had a big win in San Jose and we did it again at home in a pretty terrific fashion. It was good.”
The Predators head east to start the week with a showdown with the New York Islanders. Puck drop is scheduled for 6:00 PM central on Monday.