Predators keep winning despite mounting losses

Thursday, October 14, 2010 at 10:47pm

The losses continue to mount for the Nashville Predators. Except in the standings, that is.

It’s three games into the season and they have lost several players – prominent ones, at that – to injury. They lost a lead … once. Thursday, Jordin Tootoo even lost his cool, which created some problems but ultimately not enough to keep the Predators from winning.

With a 4-3 victory over the St. Louis Blues before 15,103 at Bridgestone Arena, Nashville improved to 3-0-0, which made this the second-best start to a season in franchise history. The 2005-06 team won its first eight, but other than that the best this team has done has been to win three of its first four, and the last time that happened was 2003-04.

“Over the past few years we haven’t really had great starts and that’s kind of hurt us,” captain Shea Weber said. “We’ve had to be really good in the second half. So our focus this year is trying to get off to a good start and keep that pace and really push for a playoff spot.”

Playing back-to-back for the first time this season they got off to a very good start with three first-period goals, the last two by Steve Sullivan, and led 3-1 at the first intermission. They were up 4-2 after Patric Hornqvist’s power-play goal at 16:21 of the second, and carried that advantage into the final period.

They did all of that despite the fact that they were without starting goalie Pekka Rinne and forward Martin Erat, the franchise’s second all-time leading scorer, for the second straight game because both are injured. They also were without center Matthew Lombardi, the marquee free agent acquisition of the offseason, who was scratched with an upper body ailment sustained in Wednesday’s 3-2 triumph at Chicago.

Things took a turn just 3:38 into the third period when Tootoo dropped the gloves to fight with Blues’ forward Ryan Eaves. One problem – rather than drop his own gloves, Eaves dropped to the ice and into a turtle position the moment Tootoo took a swing at him.

The result was a double-minor for roughing assessed to Tootoo and just one minor to Eaves for the same. St. Louis took advantage and got back within a goal when it converted 1:15 into the resultant power play.

“Obviously, when we sort of have the game in control there a little bit you want to be smart about everything,” coach Barry Trotz said. “I’m not quite sure what got that going – what was said or what was done – (but) … the other team is looking for momentum and you don’t want to give it to them.”

Buoyed by that goal, the Blues outshot the Predators 12-2 in the third (35-22 for the game) but couldn’t get anything else past rookie Anders Lindback, who joined Dan Ellis as the only Nashville goalies ever to get wins in their first two decisions. Ellis won his first six in 2007-08.

“Every time I play it is important and it gives me experience,” Lindback said. “It gives me a good head start. I’m just enjoying it. It’s a great team and a great group of guys here.”

Never mind that all of the best players aren’t actually playing at the moment.

Briefly

• Sergei Kostitsyn, acquired in an offseason trade with Montreal, made his Predators’ debut after having missed the first two contests with a broken toe.

He had one shot, a minus-1 rating and was called for a high-sticking penalty in 13:17 of ice time.

“He’s not 100 percent healthy … but he’s battling through it,” Trotz said. “I thought he was OK. … It’s really key for him to get his pace up, (but) he hasn’t played for a while.”

Erat was placed on injured reserve to make room for Kostitysn, who came off that list.

• Sullivan has four goals in the first three games. A year ago, he didn’t get his fourth goal (or his first multi-goal game) until the 18th contest.

“It’s a product of chemistry with your linemates,” Sullivan said. “… I just have to get open.”

His linemates are center Cal O’Reilly, who tied his career-high with three assists, and Hornqvist, who had a goal and an assist.
 

7 Comments on this post:

By: richgoose on 10/15/10 at 12:43

This may be a minor sport but the 17,000 or 18,000 people in Middle Tennesssee that follow ice hockey regularly are delirirous right now.

By: fwf on 10/15/10 at 7:58

I don't know what planet you come from but hockey is NOT a MINOR SPORT! And the Preds are not a minor league team. Our Preds are awesome and just get better every year. The only reason it seems minor to a lot of Nashvillians is because our local press does not give it the proper respect it deserves. The other night I was watching channel 5 news and what should have been their lead story with the Preds opening night was buried under junk news and high school football. I was in PA last year watching our Preds in a sea of Penguins (a sold out crowd) and our Preds stomped them. I hope to see the same thing this year! Now PA is a state that believes hockey to be MAJOR and they certainly don't call their hockey a minor sport! COME ON NASHVILLE, WE HAVE A GREAT TEAM, AND THEY ARE MAJOR!!!!!!

By: PKVol on 10/15/10 at 8:56

fwf (is that for fierce white female!?!) - I agree with you that the NHL is not a minor sport, unfortunately, since it is the smallest of the four Major Sports Leagues, some people, like richgoose want to make it minor.

Remember, you can't spell NasHviLle without the NHL!

By: cookeville on 10/15/10 at 8:59

I'm just happy the City Paper has a front page article on our win last night The Tennessean can't be bothered. And then some columnist will yap about the team not making money for the city and the ignorant will believe it.

THANKS, CITY PAPER FOR YOUR SUPPORT!!!

GO PREDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

By: Alphadog7 on 10/15/10 at 9:24

I am completely stoked about this hockey team! I am not exaggerating to say that it is one of the main attractions that this PA native in Nashville. Do you think in Philly or Pittsburgh the players stop by the library to read and sign autographs for the kids? Think you can get tickets for less than face value anywhere? Not a chance...

Sure the NHL hasn't helped much with the lockout, and lack of ESPN coverage, but hockey is growing.

I'm loving the O'reilly - Hornqvist - Sullivan line!

Thanks to the City Paper for the great coverage!

By: LFCRed on 10/15/10 at 3:20

I can relate to what fwf is saying. Being originally from Michigan, the sports sections of the papers & TV stations sports segments there always gave equal/top billing to Tigers, Lions, Red Wings, Pistons, Wolverines AND Spartans - simply based on who played that night/day before.

Just glad the City Paper gives prop's to the Preds, without having to hunt for the articles. This is a solid club, with great guys to represent the city - Nashville should be proud & back 'em 110%.

"Beer is proof God loves us and wants us to be happy." Benjamin Franklin

By: LFCRed on 10/15/10 at 3:23

Alphadog - I believe the Pred's will have around 60 games televised this season, most on Fox Sports South; which is carried on DirecTV & Comcast (they're in the middle of pricing p!$$!ng contest w/ Dish Network). Also, NHL Network's "On The Fly" show has live cut-ins of every game/every night, in addition to the games they have on (like last night's Wings v Stars) & the games on Versus.

These channels aren't really that heard to find - especially if you "google" them for schedules/listings...

"Beer is proof God loves us and wants us to be happy." Benjamin Franklin