The Nashville Predators showed up ready to play from the start of the game against the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday night at Bridgestone Arena and came away with a solid 4-2 win over one of the stronger teams in the Eastern Conference.
Games between teams that don't see each other but once or twice a year are tough for both squads as there is little in person knowledge. Nick Spaling discussed the preparation, "It's a lot of video and the coaches do the scouting and give us an in depth look at what they are about. We knew they were a skilled team with a lot of guys that can burn you one on one and four lines that can play."
The game started at a fast and furious pace, with both teams putting six shots on net in the first 4:15 in plenty of back and fourth action. Spaling confirmed that the team was ready to go hard at the start. "I think we came out ready to go today, and the game plan was to throw a lot of pucks on net. We were focused on a quick transition and just tried to play deep in their end."
The Predators appeared to take an early lead at 4:47 when Spaling put the shot into the net but it was ruled that Gabriel Bourque had applied a kicking motion as it caromed into the net.
Spaling initially thought that it was a goal that could have counted. "I saw the replay after but I didn't see Bourque kick it there. I thought it had just kind of found its way in."
Spaling did get a goal later, 4:40 into the third period, which turned out to be the game winner which was fitting since the Predators are 13-0-1 in games that Spaling has scored a goal in his career.
It was not a typical goal as Spaling described it. "Tootoo made a good play in front and it took a bounce off of me and went in the net. It was more of a lucky play. I didn't do much on it."
Spaling appears to find the odd player-based Predator win streak humorous, especially that he continues to be questioned about it. His only response after the game was a very team oriented "I guess I better score more often."
The Predators continued their strong play on the man advantage as Marty Erat connected on the power play with 58 seconds left in the opening period. Sergei Kostitsyn extended the Predator lead to 2-0 halfway through the second period. Sean Couturier narrowed the gap to 2-1 lest than two minutes later.
Spaling's goal gave the Predators what they needed for the win, but Wayne Simmonds made the game interesting at the end when he made it 3-3 with 10:05 remaining. Fans could finally breathe easy when Mike Fisher nailed the empty-netter with 40 seconds left in the game.
Pekka Rinne was outstanding in net as he picked up his 23rd win, stopping 38 of 38 Flyer shots. Ilya Bryzgalov took the loss, allowing three goals on 24 Predators shots.
The win was the Predators fourth in a row and 13th in their last 17 games. The Preds remained in sixth place in the Western Conference with 54 points, five points out of the Conference lead and four points behind the Central Division leading St. Louis Blues.
The Predators will have a brief practice on Sunday morning before departing for New York where they will play the Islanders at noon on Monday and the Rangers at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday night in nationally telecast game on the NBC Sports Network.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass