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Veteran Scorers Stepping Up

Friday, 11.18.2011 / 2:15 PM / Features
By Bryan Mullen
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Veteran Scorers Stepping Up
There’s nothing like a little healing and recuperation to add instant offense to your hockey team.

At least that’s the case for the Nashville Predators.

Since returning from various injuries, the top line of Sergei Kostitsyn, Mike Fisher and Martin Erat has been dominant recently. They have been a key reason why Nashville has won back-to-back games, as well as earning five out of a possible six points since its current five-game home stand began last Saturday.

Their effort during Thursday’s 4-1 win against Toronto was the high point. They combined for two goals, five assists and a +9 rating.

“Hopefully they got it started at the right time,” said Predators coach Barry Trotz, whose team hosts Columbus on Saturday at 7 p.m. “They all come back from injuries, and sometimes players respond for one game and then they fall off. Or they don’t get started. It was good to have them all going. They went head to head against a very good line. It was a real good effort for them.”

The three players have logged extensive time in the NHL and didn’t force the issue once they returned to game action.

“We knew it would come,” Fisher said. “It was only a matter of time. We have to keep that going and bury our chances when we can. It’s not going to go like that every night, and we know we have to play smart.”

Erat has been the most impressive of the three. He had two goals against Toronto and has now posted points in seven of nine games since returning from injury on Oct. 29. He has five goals and four assists in that span.

Erat’s injury came during the season opener against Columbus and he missed the next eight games. But he has returned to be one of Nashville’s top offensive threats, and at times, its best.

“It takes you a couple of games to get back to the speed,” Erat said. “It’s just the timing and everything that comes with it. We just have to keep going.”

Trotz has been impressed with Erat’s play, and not just the goal scoring.

“When Marty is really wheeling and dealing and playing his type of game, he creates things,” Trotz said. “With Mike, and now with Sergei starting to get up to speed here, they really complement each other when they’re going. Marty can be a catalyst and is really getting his game going again. He’s been nicked up right through training camp and into the regular season… Marty has always had speed and a pretty good skill set, but he is a determined player. He cares. He doesn’t take games off. He is one of those players who is around the puck, or chasing it down and going to get it. That’s his game. He doesn’t play an easy game. He plays a workman game with a real good skill set.”

Erat knows his current hot streak won’t last forever, and the veteran is taking a big-picture approach.

“I know it’s a long season,” Erat said. “You’re going to have stretches when it’s not going in. Right now, it’s a good feeling when I shoot the puck and it goes in. You’re going to have bumps on the road. We’re playing good defense and playing well as a team.”

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