The Nashville Predators snapped an eight-game losing skid when they edged the Calgary Flames by a 4-3 score in front of a sold out Bridgestone Arena on Tuesday.
It was the first win since Apr. 2 for the Predators. It was also a game full of milestones, from David Legwand’s 200th goal to Filip Forsberg’s first NHL point. Hal Gill also played in his 1,100th career game. None were as big or memorable as Austin Watson’s first NHL goal, which broke a 2-2 tie early in the third period. The milestone moment for Watson came in his sixth NHL game.
“It was incredible. I wasn’t sure if I got it,” Watson explained. “The shot went through a screen there, so I didn’t really know if it went it. I kind of just went off the fans’ reaction. It’s exciting. It’s a milestone and it was great to experience here at home. I didn’t know what to think. It was crazy. I kind of just blacked out a little bit and then got pretty excited. It was just one of things that you never get to experience again so it was awesome.
“It is something you dream about, and it is even better than the dreams when it finally does happen.”
Watson’s goal came 1:23 before Matt Halischuk scored to give the Predators a two-goal edge, which stood as the eventual game-winning tally.
Predators head coach Barry Trotz said getting that first NHL goal will help Watson with his confidence level.
“The goal for Austin [Watson] will really help him… In the first period, the puck came to Austin and he slammed it down the ice. I said, ‘take a deep breath and play with some poise.’ There’s moments when it seems fast, then there are some, like when he scored that goal, where he shows lots of poise. Those are the things that young guys go through,” Trotz said.
“He’s a big strong kid. Shooting pucks and getting pucks to the net is a big thing. He did a good job of that tonight,” Legwand said about the 21-year-old. “Getting pucks to the net and playing a simple game is going to be what he brings to the table for us.”
Rich Clune collected the puck for Watson. Another puck that has become a special memento was the puck that beat Miikka Kiprusoff at 14:39 of the opening frame to tie the game at 1-1. While Legwand scored the 200th goal of his career, it was Filip Forsberg who got the puck. Forsberg collected his first NHL point when he set up the Legwand tally.
“He can have it. It’s his first point. The kid is 18 years old. It is good for him to get a point and get on the scoreboard,” Legwand said after the game.
Predators captain Shea Weber has been impressed with both Watson and Forsberg.
“They’ve been doing some great things. Filip has been playing well for us and Watson came up [from Milwaukee] then went back down, but comes back and makes a great shot tonight to get his first [NHL goal]. That’s a special moment for him and I think he’ll never forget that. Filip is just going to keep getting better and better as well,” he said.
The Predators close out the season on the road with games against two Central Division foes, Detroit and Columbus. Of course, both teams are moving to the Eastern Conference at the conclusion of this season. The Blue Jackets and the Red Wings are battling it out for the eighth seed in the West. The Predators will have an opportunity to play spoiler before hanging up the skates for the offseason.