Pred finds back of the net from in front of it

Wednesday, December 16, 2009 at 10:43pm
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Ryan Jones celebrates his goal against the Red Wings. / Mike Strasinger for The City Paper

One need not go to great lengths to try and find the reason for Ryan Jones’ sudden offensive surge.

The three-game goal streak for the Nashville Predators’ second-year forward is a direct result of his willingness and ability to get close to the front of the net at the opportune moment.

“He goes to the net, and that’s where you’re going to score goals,” coach Barry Trotz said. “…It’s a good sign.”

Jones will look to extend that streak — currently the team’s longest active one — when the Predators (20-11-3, 43 points) begin a three-game road trip Thursday at Edmonton (8:30 p.m., Fox Sports-Tennessee). The Oilers (15-14-4, 34 points) are one of seven teams that currently averages at least three goals against per game.

Martin Erat (four games) and Jason Arnott (three games) are the only other Nashville players who have scored in at least three games in a row this season. Erat’s streak ended last Saturday in a 3-2 overtime loss against Detroit — the very night Jones’ started.

The 25-year-old got going when he positioned himself in front of the net and redirected a shot by Steve Sullivan. Officially, he was credited with having scored from 13 feet out. Since then, he has moved ever closer.

A similar redirection Monday at Columbus off a Dan Hamhuis shot, was measured at 12 feet from the net. Tuesday against Tampa Bay, he was five feet from the goal line when he stuffed home the rebound of a shot by rookie center Nick Spaling.

“It was kind of a garbage goal with Jones going to the net,” Spaling said.

Jones made his NHL debut with Nashville last season and scored seven goals in 46 games. Prior to last Saturday he played 12 more this season.

Never in that time did he score in consecutive contests. In fact, he made at least three appearances between each of his goals in 2008-09 and was shut out through his first dozen of the current campaign.

Now he has done it in three straight, which is halfway to the franchise record shared by Alexander Radulov and J.P. Dumont.

“It feels good,” Jones said. “They’ve all been right in front of the net — just where I like to be.”