Coach Barry Trotz
Comments from Steve Steve Sullivan, Patric Hornqvist, Anders Lindback, Francis Bouillon, and Shea Weber
The Nashville Predators played like a team on a mission as they defeated the Anaheim Ducks 4-1 in front of an opening night sold out crowd of 17, 113 at the Bridgestone Arena.
It was one of the most successful openings in franchise history both on and off the ice. The crowd was enthusiastic and the Predators play was all you could hope for to open a season.
Steve Sullivan scored the game winning goal on the power play at 8:33 in the second period and also assisted on the Predator's third goal. Patric Hornqvist set a perfect screen on Jonas Hiller who might not have even seen the shot coming.
After a scoreless opening period, the Predators got on the board 4:10 into the second period when Marcel Goc skated up the left side of the ice and put a shot past Hiller to give the Preds a 1-0 lead. A minute later, Saku Koivu put a shot past Pekka Rinne from the slot to knot the game at one.
After Sullivan's goal, Patric Hornqvist scored at 16:12 in the second period to expand the Predators lead. David Legwand put the game out of reach in the third when he corralled his own rebound and scored to make it 4-1.
The Predators had balanced scoring with 10 different players getting a point including two point nights from Sullivan with a goal and an assist and Captain Shea Weber getting two assists.
Sullivan commented, "We are excited with the way we played. We got contributions from everybody. The specialty teams were the difference in the game. Right now we are excited."
Sullivan continued, "Win the specialty teams war and play them five on five strong and we win. We used our speed to our advantage. We put a lot of pressure on their D and created turnovers."
Patric Hornqvist added, "It was a great team effort. Everybody worked for each other and we got two big points."
The Preds were one of seven on the power play and a perfect 3 for 3 on the penalty kill including a tremendous five on three kill in the middle of the second period.
"It was huge," said Shea Weber. "Anytime you kill a penalty like that momentum just builds. You could hear the crowd after we killed the penalties and it got us going again."
The Predators out shot the Ducks 49-37 in a very un-Predator type of statistic.
The scariest play of the game came early in the third period when the Duck's Troy Bodie, plowed into Preds goalie Pekka Rinne and a brawl ensued, with Rinne at the bottom of a pile of players. Rinne tried to stay in the game but after one other play, he had to leave the ice.
In the post game Barry Trotz said, "The word on the goalie is that it is lower body. It's day to day and I don't expect him to miss much time. On Monday, we'll probably recall a goaltender for a couple of days. I know it's not anything major."
Rookie Anders Lindback entered the game with 17:22 left in the game and was perfect, stopping all seven shots he faced. "There wasn't too many shots for me to handle so that's good," claimed Lindback.
Lindback was surprised as anyone that he got into the game, "I didn't have time to think, it all went so quickly. It's my job to be ready and to go out there and do my best."
Initially he thought Rinne would continue to play, "They told me to warm up but since he kept playing so it came quick when I went in there. It was fun. What can you say, it was sold out, Saturday night in Nashville."
His fellow players were all enthusiastic about Lindback's debut.
"We know what Lindy can do," said Sullivan. "You are going to have some bumps and bruises along the way. You don't expect Peks to get hurt in the first game. We know it's going to take 29, 30, or 31 guys during the season to be successful. Lindy came in tonight and shut the door when he had to and it was great."
Trotz said, "It was good for him to come in there in a two goal game, and I thought he fared really well. His parents were here and had flown in to help him get settled here in Nashville so that was really nice."
Weber gave Lindback the seal of approval also, "It's tough to see one of your best players get hurt but Lindy is a great goalie and he came in and stepped up. He got in there and made some big saves and hopefully his confidence grows."
Ryan Suter added, "It was neat to have him come in and experience the whole thing."
Suter had the save of the game in the second period when Anaheim was on the power play and set up a backdoor play with an open net. Suter did a great Superman impression flying in front of the puck and preventing the goal.
Suter was modest after the game, "I shouldn't have been out of position. If I had been standing next to him, I wouldn't have had to do that. It looks good, but could have been prevented."
Another surprise was the increased physical play of defenseman Francis Bouillon. He was involved in a fight midway through the first period and pinned Troy Bodie to the ice in spite of a six inch height disadvantage.
"It's pretty much always like that because every body has a size advantage on me, said the 5'10" defenseman.
Commenting on the increased physicality he said, "Last year when I came here, I was hitting, doing my job but no fighting. I was trying to play good hockey and stay healthy. This year if you want to go further in the playoff everyone has got to chip in and that's my job to do."
Trotz was not surprised with Bouillon's physicality, "I've seen Frankie Bouillon fight back when he was in the minors and the man is tough. It's funny, he came here last year and that was a part of his game you never saw. You saw it tonight. He was going against a guy that was a foot taller and 50 pounds heavier and he held his own."
Shane O'Brien made his Predator debut playing 14:39 and was a plus one on the evening. Barry Trotz was pleased with the defenseman, "I really liked Shane's game, he kept it simple and smart. He was heavy in front of the net, pushing people away, and he was strong on the boards. He only skated once this week in Vancouver and he skated once with us and we put him in the game and he did real well."
So how big was the Predators opening night win, "It's huge, said Captain Shea Weber. "We want to get on a roll here. The start of the season hasn't been great for us in the last little while so we need to make sure and get points at the start to make it easier on us down the road."
The Predators will take Sunday off and be back at Centennial for Practice on Monday and Tuesday before heading to Chicago for a game with the Blackhawks on Wednesday. They return home on Thursday to play the St. Louis Blues.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass