Getting off to a good start was one of the main keys to the game for the Nashville Predators on Friday night against the Edmonton Oilers. A two-goal first period, including a lucky goal by David Legwand who scored from center ice, did a lot for Nashville’s confidence. That led them to a dominating 6-0 win over the Oilers.
“Just scoring goals is big,” Wilson said. “That was a good bounce. We’ll take that any day. It was nice to get that two-goal lead basically.”
The Predators looked like a completely different team on Friday night than they have for the past couple of weeks. They were very solid defensively, dominant offensively, and seemed to have a new swagger with the addition of three new players to the lineup.
“I thought it started with the attitude. You always want the new guys to contribute, and there was some urgency in our game. More than anything, there was some joy,” Trotz said.
Nashville controlled the game right from the start. They played a pretty physical game and controlled the flow of play for really the entire game. The Predators held the Oilers’ talented young offense scoreless and allowed just 24 shots on goal for the game. Paul Gaustad, Rich Clune and Sergei Kostitsyn set the tone for the Predators on the first shift with their physical play and will to battle for the puck.
“It started with the first shift. Gaustad’s line said hey we’re going to get out there and get it going and set the tone, and they were real good. They checked a top line in the league for a good portion of the game,” Trotz said.
Perhaps the turning point in the first period came on Nashville’s first power play of the game. Kostitsyn fanned on the puck at the point, which gave Edmonton forward Ryan Jones a clear shorthanded breakaway on Pekka Rinne. Rinne was able to make the save, and the Predators went right back down the ice and scored a goal. It was a huge swing in momentum.
“Just as anything, you’ve got to fight through the adversity. We were getting some shots, getting some chances. Then we give up a shorthanded breakaway. In big moments, your big guys step up, and I thought Pekka stepped up during that. Makes the save, we go down and end up scoring a power play goal and get the lead,” Trotz said.
From that point forward, the Predators totally dominated the Oilers in pretty much every aspect of the game. Fast starts are going to be key for Nashville as they move into the second half of the shortened season. Their fast start in the first period was a launching pad for them on Friday night, and they’ll look to do that again on Saturday night against the Minnesota Wild.