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Line tinkering pays off in Preds win over Phoenix

The Nashville Predators had been having trouble scoring goals as of late, scoring just twice in their last three games coming into Thursday night’s contest against the Phoenix Coyotes. Their offense was simply not coming, so the Predators decided to change things up. That change paid off.

Nashville got a 3-0 victory over the Coyotes and switched up the top two lines in the process. Martin Erat moved from a line with Mike Fisher and Sergei Kostitsyn to a line with David Legwand and Colin Wilson, while Fisher and Kostitsyn were joined on a line by Gabriel Bourque. Both Bourque and Fisher scored goals in the first game with their new line, and Wilson and Erat both picked up assists on the night.

“I think all four lines play the same way. We have a real good system here.  We just do the same work we do on the other lines. We just try to bring the puck in front of the net. Fisher and Sergei were really good tonight. I just have to get in front of the net and it will go in,” Bourque said.

Wilson’s new line with Legwand and Erat spent a good amount of time in the offensive zone. They all bring a pretty unique skill-set to the ice, and that made for an effective line on Thursday night.

“It was good. I think there were some good shifts that we got the puck cycling and things like that. I think there’s certainly things we can build on. I think Marty had a really good game, and Leggy definitely helped out the line more,” Wilson said of his new linemates.

Switching up the lines when struggling to score goals seems to be the obvious thing to do for most teams in the league. It seems to provide a bit of a spark that can start to turn things around offensively. More than anything, it’s something new that players have to look forward to, and that challenge can be an exciting part of the game.

“It’s just a little bit of excitement. It’s always fun playing with new players even though you’ve played with them before and you’re on the same team. It’s just fun. It gives you a little bit of a spark. You start playing with new players and maybe chemistry’s going and you’re playing well at the same time,” Wilson said.

The Predators had no trouble creating scoring chances on Thursday night. They had 29 shots on goal, which is far more than 21.9 shots on goal per game they have been averaging so far this season. Nashville played a complete game for the first time in a while, and that effort showed offensively.

“All lines were going. A lot of good plays. It was good to get those shots on net, but it was even better obviously for those to go in,” Wilson said.

Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne earned his second consecutive shutout of the game, giving him a 0.83 GAA and .967 save percentage in his last seven games. He’s been totally dominant over this stretch.

“Peks is unbelievable. He’s making great saves out there. He’s saving games for us, so it’s an exciting time. It’s great to have one of the best goalies, if not the best in the league, on your team,” Wilson said.

Look for the Predators to roll with the same lines on Saturday night against the Anaheim Ducks to see if their success will continue.

 
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