As a third-line center, Marcel Goc knows his first responsibility is to defense. Still, he looks for chances to contribute on offense wherever he can find them.
“We also have to get some goals here and there,” he said. “It’s going to help the team out.”
Goc has, in fact, gotten some goals in his first season with the Nashville Predators. However, all of them have been ‘there’ and none of them ‘here.’
The 26-year-old gave the Predators a 1-0 lead at Minnesota on Wednesday when he scored at 7:20 of the first period. Typically, that would have been a big help given the fact that Nashville went into that game with an 11-1-0 record when it scored first. Minnesota eventually won 5-4 in overtime, though.
It was the third goal of the season Goc — all of them on the road. He also scored Nov. 25 at Colorado and Nov. 10 at San Jose. Only Shea Weber (with five) and J.P. Dumont (four) have scored more often for the Predators outside of Sommet Center.
That’s already one more goal in 25 games with Nashville than he had in all of 2008-09 (55 appearances) with San Jose. It also puts him on pace to surpass his single-season high of eight, set when he was a rookie in 2005-06.
He will get a chance to continue the trend Friday when the Predators play at Chicago (7:30 p.m., Fox Sports-Tennessee).
Goc’s relative surge in scoring — three goals in his last 11 games — primarily has come since he was placed on a line between forwards Martin Erat and Jordin Tootoo.
Each of his goals has included an assist by at least one of those other two. Erat has seven points (three goals, four assists) and two multi-point contests over the same stretch. Tootoo has one goal and five assists in that time, including a career-high four-game assist streak.
“(Goc) is obviously in the organization trying to fit in,” coach Barry Trotz said. “Now, I think he’s sort of finding his role. Right now, him and Tootoo and Erat have been a line for a little bit, and they’ve found a little bit of chemistry. … The guys are moving and he supports the play. They’ve been a real good two-way line.”
It has helped — or perhaps it is due to the fact — that Goc has been on the ice more in recent weeks. He played fewer than 10 minutes in seven of his first 14 games. In the last 11, he has been below 10 minutes just once, and he has topped 13 minutes of ice time in each of the last six.
“I’m playing a little more,” he said. “I think it’s easier to get into the game and you play a little more with confidence when you get out there a little more often.”
• The Predators recalled forward Ryan Jones on Thursday.
The 25-year-old opened the season with Nashville, played in eight of the first 10 games but did not have a point.
He was reassigned to Milwaukee on Oct. 26 despite the fact that he signed a one-way contract during the offseason. In 10 games for the Admirals he had four goals and one assist.
“(Jones) is really starting to come on now,” Trotz said on Wednesday. “That’s a good sign. It’s just taken him a little longer than we expected to get his game back. But he’s starting to come around.”