Hornqvist's consistency as a goal scorer unprecedented

Wednesday, March 7, 2012 at 7:59pm

Patric Hornqvist is not proud when it comes to scoring goals. He is, however, consistent.

The Nashville Predators right wing reiterated both points in Tuesday’s 5-4 loss to the Los Angeles Kings at Bridgestone Arena. He scored twice and reclaimed sole possession of the team lead with 20 goals on the season.

Neither exactly was a thing of beauty.

“[On the first] a defenseman poked it from [Andrei Kostitsyn’s] stick and it went right to my tape — I just fired,” he said. “… [On the second] the goalie poke-checked me and it hit my skate and went in. Lucky goal.”

With those two, he became the first draft pick in franchise history to score at least 20 goals for the Predators three seasons in a row. He had a team-high 30 in 2009-10 — his first full NHL season — and followed with 21 last season.

He’ll look to add to this season’s total when Nashville hosts Colorado on Thursday (7 p.m., Bridgestone Arena). He has one goal in two games against the Avalanche thus far this season.

“He’s consistent,” captain Shea Weber said. “You know exactly what you’re going to get from him every night. He knows what his job is in this room and he’s very good at it.”

Hornqvist was the last player taken (230th overall) in the 2005 draft and the 40th forward drafted all-time by the organization.

David Legwand, the franchise’s all-time leading goal scorer and now in his 12th season, has scored 20 or more just twice. Martin Erat has scored 20 or more three times since he entered the league in 2001-02 but never got there in consecutive seasons.

“His foundation is that around-the-net type of game,” coach Barry Trotz said. “He’s just recognized what’s made him successful and he keeps his foundation very stable year-in and year-out. … It’s good for him to get 20 goals. That’s tough to do now in this league.”

It certainly has been difficult for anyone in a Nashville uniform to do with any regularity.

Jason Arnott did it in his first three seasons with the Predators (2006-09) and is the only other one to do so. Paul Kariya and Steve Sullivan each had 20-plus in back-to-back seasons. Kariya, of course, only played two seasons in Nashville.

“[Hornqvist] not afraid to go to those hard areas, and that’s where he’s scoring goals these days,” Trotz said. “That’s why he gets them consistently and that’s why he’s in that 20-goal range.”

Hornqvist has 13 points (eight goals, five assists) in his last 14 games, including three goals in the last five since he returned from an injury.

Last season, he did not get to 20 until the next-to-last game when he scored twice against Columbus.

“It’s always nice to get that out of the way and not struggle to get to the 20th,” Hornqvist said. “But I want to move forward and I don’t care how many goals I’m going to score.

“All I care about is our team — these 20-25 guys right here.”