Coming into tonight’s game, Colorado’s Peter Forsberg and Nashville’s Mike Fisher were stealing the headlines. Some others rose to the occasion, as the Predators pulled out a 5-3 win over the Avalanche.
Patric Hornqvist contributed in a big way in the third period with the tying goal and a screen on the winning goal. Cody Franson netted the winner with 2:30 left on the clock, giving the Preds a much-needed two points in the wild Western Conference.
The Predators used some early energy from the crowd to get some momentum, but couldn’t get on the board. Colorado responded by breaking the ice on a Kevin Porter goal 11:05 into regulation. Porter picked off a Colin Wilson pass in the neutral zone and buried a subsequent feed from Paul Stastny.
Nashville wasted no time to even things up again. Shea Weber knotted the score at 1-1 just 11 seconds later with a wrister (not his patented slap-shot) from the blueline.
“Webs’ goal was huge there to make it 1-1,” Hornqvist said. “If (Colorado) they get some momentum right there, I think it’s going to be a whole different game.”
The home team got off to another quick start to a period, and this time it paid off. Martin Erat, who had three points on the night, jammed home a power play tally to put the Preds up by a score of 2-1 at the 4:36 mark of the second.
Colorado tied the game at two less than five minutes later. David Jones skated in untouched from the corner and slipped the puck past Rinne. The goal was his 19th of the season.
The Preds held a 28-9 shot advantage after two periods, but the score remained tied thanks to Budaj. He was forced to make a few good saves towards the end of the period, especially on a Colin Wilson one-timer attempt. Nick Spaling also had a great chance while shorthanded, hitting the post on a wide-open net.
Just 2:54 into the third period, Matt Duchene put Colorado on top 4-3 when he blew a slap-shot by Rinne. However, the Preds had yet another response in them.
Hornqvist knotted the game at three with 15:49 remaining as his wrist shot beat Budaj high glove. It capped off a persistent shift following Colorado’s go-ahead goal, and Hornqvist was set up nicely by a feed from David Legwand behind the net.
“It was a great response for us,” Hornqvist said. “We’ve talked about that before games – whenever we score a goal or get scored on, we have to get the momentum back right away. We did it today and it ended up in two big points.”
A wrister from the blueline from Franson with two and a half minutes left eluded Budaj and traffic, giving the team a 4-3 lead and sending Bridgestone Arena into a frenzy.
“I was trying to lose the guy that was trying to get in my shooting lane and throw it on net and hope that someone would bang in a rebound,” Franson said. “But luckily enough it went in.”
Legwand’s empty net goal salted away the victory with 45 seconds to go; Fisher picked up his first assist as a Predator on the play.
The debut of Fisher was a success. He picked up an assist, was a plus-2, won 12 of the 16 faceoffs, and logged 18:10 of ice-time. It didn’t seem like he was playing his first game with a new team. In his first shift, he was rambunctious in the offensive zone and provided a lot of energy.
“He did well – as advertised,” Barry Trotz said. “That’s the Mike Fisher I remember – strong on draws, hard to play against. They didn’t have a lot of shots, but he broke up a couple of huge plays and you can see why he was a Selke finalist a few years back.”
“It was definitely an exciting and fun game with me,” Fisher said of his debut. “I had a lot of nerves early, that’s for sure, but I kind of calmed down and got into it. I thought the guys played really well and responded.”
Forsberg also didn’t look too shabby in his second game back in the NHL. Even though he was a minus-2 in the stat sheet and committed two penalties, he looked like he was 27, not 37, skating wise.
“I’ll tell you what – Peter Forsberg is still dynamite,” Trotz said. “He’s still hard to handle. It’s amazing – you don’t play and you’re that hard to handle in the best league in the world. I’ve got a lot of admiration for Peter Forsberg. He’s one of those rare, rare athletes that you don’t see too often.”
Rinne was not himself tonight by surrendering three goals on 18 shots. Budaj came up big for Colorado, even though he gave up four goals.
After two days off, the Preds will continue their four-game home-stand with a key tilt against San Jose on Tuesday night.