Legwand's hat trick gives Preds a 5-1 victory
Tuesday, 06.19.2012 / 1:14 AMDavid Legwand
’s second career hat trick, and 28 saves by goalie Chris Mason lifted the Nashville Predators to a 5-1 victory in a lively affair Saturday night at the Sommet Center. The victory gives the Predators 2-0-0 start for just the second time in franchise history.
“It is going to have to happen like this every night – a different line is going to have to step up and contribute,” head coach Barry Trotz said. “I thought Leggy and Marty Erat did a real nice job all night long. Getting three goals was great for David to get to express himself offensively, but a lot of those goals came from solid play defensively.”
Erat assisted on all three of Legwand’s markers to tie a career
|Legwand's hat-trick clinching goal came with under a minute to play in the third period.
high for helpers in a game. For Legwand, it was his second career three-goal game.
On the back end, Mason had his second stellar outing to start the 2007-08 campaign, and has only relinquished one goal in two contests, stopping 63 of 64 shots.
“The confidence definitely builds,” Mason said of the continued success. “You seem to see the puck better and the defense, forwards and myself all got it going early and we like it that way.”
The fireworks did in fact start early, as Jordin Tootoo
went toe-to-toe for his second fight in as many contests after Krystofer Barch challenged the 5-9, 194-pound grinder at 2:44 of the first. The bout was the first attempt at revenge on Tootoo since his hit on Dallas defenseman Stephane Robidas last season, which earned him a five-game suspension from the league.
A mere three seconds later, on the faceoff to restart play, Darcy Hordichuk brawled with Brad Winchester, sending the crowd of 13,079 into a frenzy.
“I wanted to send a message right back – if they want to start the game like that we have enough guys that are willing to go,” Hordichuk said. “It got both the team and crowd into the game.”
The pair of skirmishes did serve as a rally cry for the Predators, as they painlessly killed its first Dallas power play shortly thereafter, and took a 1-0 lead on the initial rush that ensued. Sixteen seconds after J.P. Dumont was released from the box for tripping, Erat used his explosive first step and smooth puck-handling skills to maintain possession from the Nashville blue line, around the Dallas net, and out the other side. It was there that he found a slashing Legwand who redirected the puck into the net from the top of the crease.
“Marty is great at finding guys back door and getting the puck to the net and he did that again tonight,” Legwand said.
|Legwand battles Mike Modano and Philippe Boucher in front Mike Smith.
Dumont made up for the minor penalty later in the opening frame, using impeccable eye-hand coordination to bat a puck out of midair that was destined to tie the game. Mason also made a number of clutch saves as time winded down in the first, stymieing several quality Stars opportunities when faced with a pair of penalty kills.
Just like opening night, Nashville capitalized on its first man-advantage opportunity of the match, this time it came at 5:22 of the second with Sergei Zubov in the box for hooking. After a few careful cycles, Marek Zidlicky navigated a pass through three Dallas players to Dumont, stationed in the right face-off circle. With Dallas goalie Mike Smith cheating to his blocker side after losing his stick in a crowd earlier in the penalty, Dumont patiently found a gaping hole above the netminder’s glove, sending the water bottle on top of the net airborne. Coupled with a 1-for-4 performance on the man-advantage Thursday, the Preds are now 2-for-8 on the power play through two games.
Defensively the special teams were rolling as well, with the penalty killers extinguishing all eight chances against in the game to improve to a perfect 11-for-11 on the season.
“They are very committed and very prepared,” Trotz said. “Our special teams have done a really good job – the defense is smart and they take away passing lanes, while the forwards are very aware. When things do break down, they sacrifice their bodies, and you saw that tonight.”
Much of the man-down success has to do with the sturdy play of Greg Zanon, who doesn’t always show up on the scoresheet, but plays tough minutes – he led all Preds in ice time on the evening with 23:57 played, including nearly eight minutes on the penalty kill.
“I could talk about Zanon for hours – I absolutely love the way he plays, putting his body on the line every night for our team,” Mason said. “A lot of people don’t realize when we are killing penalties how hard it can be to get the puck out and he is one of the best in the league at that.”
The offensive outburst to start the season continued 4:01 later, thanks once again to the Legwand-Erat connection. This time, d-man Greg de Vries found Erat hopping over the boards, and sent the tandem in on a 2-on-1. The swift Czech winger sent a crisp pass across to Legwand, who finished the business for his second marker of the game.
On the other end of the rink, Mason continued to do his part as a brick wall in front of the Nashville net. His best save of the period came on a Mike Modano rebound attempt on the doorstep, as the lifetime-Star continues in his pursuit of becoming the top U.S.-born scorer.
Mason’s shutout streak to begin the 2007-08 season came to a halt after 113:14 on Barch’s fifth career goal and first of the young season. A pass from Steve Ott sent Barch in all alone, and he beat the Nashville goalie blocker side to make it a 3-1 game.
Many of those in attendance began to head for the exits following Martin Gelinas’ empty-net goal – his first goal as a Predator –at 18:46, many of whom assumed that 4-1 would be the score in tomorrow’s headline, but Nashville wasn’t quite done.
Legwand capped off his hat trick in the most unlikely of scenarios – by beating Smith after the empty netter. Line mate Jed Ortmeyer flung what looked like an innocent shot toward the net that ricocheted off several shin pads in front and ended up in Legwand’s skates. The franchise’s first draft pick used a nifty delay move to make Smith commit, then snapped the shot over him that sent the headwear flying onto the ice. The goal came just 15 seconds after the empty netter.
“Jed got a shot in the slot, and it kind of handcuffed him (Smith) and made it worse than if the shot actually got through,” Legwand said. “I was fortunate to come up with it and finish.
“It is a pretty neat thing to have a hat trick, hopefully I can keep it going, and the team will also continue to roll.”
Nashville plays its third game of the season and first on the road at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis on Wednesday, Oct. 10 when it takes on Paul Kariya and the Blues at 7:30 p.m. CT. The match will be televised on FSN South and will be broadcasted locally on WGFX-104.5 The Zone.
Game Notes: Mason stopped the first 61 shots he faced on the season…Nashville has already matched its win total from each of the past two seasons against Dallas, having gone 1-3-0 in both 2005-06 and 06-07…Scratched for Nashville tonight were Shea Weber
and Scott Nichol, while Dallas did not dress Loui Eriksson, Nolan Baumgartner and Todd Fedoruk… Ville Koistinen made his NHL debut tonight, replacing injured defenseman Shea Weber
(knee) in the line-up. He played 16:07 in his debut…The NHL played a season-high 14 games tonight, with only San Jose and Colorado not in action…. By being held pointless tonight, Mike Modano is still six points shy of passing Phil Housley (1,232) in his search to become the top U.S.-born scorer.