The Nashville Predators looked like a team worthy of preseason hype in Tuesday night’s win in Colorado.
The Nashville Predators entered Tuesday night’s game against the Colorado Avalanche searching for rhythm, and more importantly, points. They found all of the above to the tune of a 5-1 victory, moving the Preds to a 3-5-1 record and putting them right back in the early season mix.
The win is due in large part to the emergence of Nashville’s top forwards lines, who jumped to life after having been relatively stagnant since the beginning of the season. The marked improvement showed through team 5-on-5 play, where the Preds notched 4 of their 5 goals.
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Top line center Ryan Johansen sparked his own game and earned his first goal of the year on a beautiful score that featured his entire body behind the net. RyJo also spearheaded a fantastic effort leading to an easy Roman Josi marker. Johansen finished the night with his second multi-point outing of the season (one goal, one assist).
Craig Smith had a brilliant night, notching two goals. With both a deflection and top-shelf snipe finding the net, Smith has now tied Viktor Arvidsson for the team leader in goal scoring with four on the year.
Winger Filip Forsberg added to his team-leading point total, marking two assists on the night. That brings him to seven A’s on the year, as the freshly signed forward is still yet to find the net for his first goal.
The ‘Real Deal’ James Neal was able to find his first multi-point effort of the year, marking a pair of assists as well. One came in the form of a highlight reel no-look pass of an offensive zone draw, setting up defenseman Matt Irwin for his first goal and point as a Predator.
Also worthy of note was a spectacular open-net save by defender Ryan Ellis as goaltender Pekka Rinne found himself out of position following a giant rebound. Rinne himself handed in a solid performance on the night, saving 28 of 29 shots faced.
The win was huge for the Nashville Predators, and the confidence in play was even bigger. After being much maligned for their star players not playing on a star level, the Preds avoided kicking Smashville fans into desperation mode with an across-the-board convincing victory against a team with a winning record.