Smith reaches rookie milestone in Predators' loss to Flyers

Thursday, February 2, 2012 at 10:00pm
Staff reports

Craig Smith became the second rookie in Nashville Predators history to record 20 assists in a season, but the Nashville Predators lost 4-1 to the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday at Philadelphia.

Smith had the primary assist on Ryan Suter’s goal with 11:23 to play as Nashville attempted to overcome a third-period deficit for the second time in three days. Suter’s sixth goal of the season got the Predators within one, 2-1, but they got no closer.

"It was a great play by [Smith]," Suter said. "He passed it over and it was good. ... We finished up pretty solid there.  We’ve got to carry it over to the next game and build off that."

Philadelphia scored twice in the final five minutes — the first a power-play goal by Wayne Simmonds and the second an empty-net goal Claude Giroux — and sent Nashville to its first defeat since Jan. 17.

Simmonds (two goals) and Giroux (goal, assist) each finished with two points, and Simmonds had a game-high 10 shots against goalie Anders Lindback, who lost his fifth straight. He has been in the nets for each of the team's last two defeats.

"We gave up a goal early there in the third and we got that power play," Simmonds said. "Opportunities like that we have to take advantage of and that's what we did. We put a goal back up on the board and got the two goal lead back and that's huge.

"If they come back and they get the next goal then you know what happens, it's a two-two game with ten minutes left."

Smith’s second assist in as many games — his third in the last four games — gave him 20 for the season. It also tied him with David Legwand for third on the team in points with 31.

Only Martin Erat, with 24 in 2001-02, had more assists for the Predators as a rookie. Alexander Radulov (2006-07) and Dan Hamhuis (2003-04) each had 19.

Smith needs just eight points over the final 30 games to surpass Radulov’s rookie scoring record of 37 points.