Predators Insider: Preds power play was muscular

Predators Insider: Preds power play was muscular

Published Jan. 10, 2012 3:14 p.m. ET

Nashville had not scored a power-play goal since their Dec. 23 loss in Dallas. That was also the game that saw team captain Shea Weber sustain a concussion that would sideline him for the next four games. Weber returned Thursday night, but it was in Saturday's 5-2 victory at home against Carolina that Weber and the Predators' power play found their stride.

Right wing Patric Hornqvist had two power-play goals on the night, and rookie center Craig Smith snapped a personal 15-game goal-scoring drought in getting Nashville's first power-play marker of the game.

Rookie defenseman Ryan Ellis' power-play goal at 14:28 of the third period concluded the scoring for Nashville. It was the first career NHL goal for Ellis, who had earlier notched his first NHL point with an assist on Hornqvist's first goal.

The Predators had to be sharp due to Carolina's aggressive penalty-kill strategy. The Hurricanes entered Saturday's action with seven shorthanded goals, which was second in the NHL behind New Jersey's eight.

"They force you to play a fast game," said Nashville coach Barry Trotz, whose team will travel to Colorado Tuesday to play the Avalanche. "They come at you with two guys, they get pressure on the puck, and they don't give you much room out there, so we knew we were going to have our hands full."

Kirk Muller, Carolina's head coach, began the 2011-12 season as the head coach of Nashville's American Hockey League affiliate, but was hired by the Hurricanes when previous head coach Paul Maurice was relieved of his duties.

Nashville's four power-play goals tied for the third most in franchise history.

Rookie C Craig Smith scored his ninth goal of the season Saturday. He now has five power-play goals on the season, tying him for the team high in that category.

"We were shooting the puck a little bit better and we weren't stationary like we have been the last couple of games," Smith said. "There was a lot of movement, which is tough to cover, and we found some lanes to pass it through. We found a way to get the puck in the net."

Right wing Patric Hornqvist recorded his 10th career two-goal game Saturday. Both of his goals came on the power play. The second was scored while lying on the ice, just outside the Carolina crease.

"I saw the goalie didn't have it there, so I poked it from the goalie," Hornqvist said. "(Mike) Fisher and (Martin) Erat put it right on the goal line for me. I was on my back and I saw it, so I fired it to the back of the net."


LW Colin Wilson, after missing three games due to an upper-body injury, returned to the Nashville lineup Saturday. He recorded one assist and had two shots on goal in the game.

G Jeremy Smith dressed as starting G Pekka Rinne's backup Saturday night. Smith earned his first-ever NHL recall Friday, as Rinne's usual backup, Anders Lindback, was sent to the Milwaukee Admirals of the American Hockey League to see some game action this weekend. The Predators are expected to return Smith to Milwaukee and recall Lindback following this weekend.

LW Brian McGrattan and D Jack Hillen were scratched. Hillen has played in every Nashville game since being a healthy scratch Oct. 20 at Vancouver. Rookie D Ryan Ellis dressed in Hillen's place.


D Francis Bouillon had to leave early in the third period Saturday night after taking a high stick to the face from Carolina's Brett Sutter at 5:54 of the third. Bouillon played just one 20-second shift the remainder of the game.


"It was just good puck movement. I think our power play seemed to be
doing pretty well tonight. (Roman) Josi did a great job. He had a fake
shot and kind of sucked a couple of their guys in, and it opened me up. I
just tried to get it to the net." -- Rookie D Ryan Ellis, known as a
power-play specialist, after scoring his first career NHL goal on the
power play in the third period of Saturday's game against Carolina.