Barry Trotz Postgame
Dan Hamhuis, Jordin Tootoo, Dan Ellis and J P Dumont
Florida Panther's Coach Peter DeBoer, Jordan Leopold, and Stephen Weiss
The Nashville Predators rebounded from Friday night's loss against the St. Louis Blues, that ended their seven game win streak. by beating the Florida Panthers 4-1 at the Sommet Center on Saturday night.
The Preds had three five on five goals and an empty netter to win the first game by greater than a two point margin since last February's 8-0 shellacking of the Detroit Red Wings.
J. P. Dumont had the game winning goal, while Dan Hamhuis had his first goal of the season and David Legwand and Joel Ward also scored.
Dan Ellis, making his first start since November 10, and his first start at home since opening night, was solid in goal stopping 32 of 24 Panther shots.
Preds-Panthers Story Lines...
Preds Rebound from Loss
After having their seven game win streak broken on Friday night Barry Trotz called the game against the Panthers "the most important game of the season". It was critical that the Preds not get in a rut after playing poorly in Friday's loss.
"Sometimes after a long winning streak a loss can change a team a bit but it was a big game for us to battle back,"said Dan Hamhuis. "We didn't want to lose two at home so we were happy with the effort tonight.
Barry Trotz commented on the late arriving offense. I think the team realized that we lost last night and we don't want teams coming in here and winning hockey games so they bared down in the third."
Panthers coach Peter DeBoer had a different view of the third period, "I thought we self destructed. A couple of bad plays and we just can't afford to do that. We battled and I thought we had a good second period and a good start to the third and then we shot ourselves in the foot. It costs us games."
In retrospect, a loss on Saturday would have deadly, considering that eleven of the twelve Western Conference teams that played got at least a point in the evenings action.
Return of the Physical Game
The Predators had only been involved in two fight's all season until Dave Scatchard was jumped by Carlo Colaiacovo on Friday night. Against the Panthers, Jordin Tootoo squared off twice against Kenndal McArdle. Tootoo had not been in a fight all season to that point and has played with great discipline.
Tootoo explained why he decided to fight, "I'm sure he (McArdle) had a target for me before the game started. So in the second period we needed some momentum and emotion on the bench so I thought it was the right time and place for something like that to happen."
On the lack of fights this season, Tootoo said, "I was a little rusty there but in the second fight it was the end of my shift and it was a gutless move on his part. "
On being a target Tootoo explained, "That's when I play some of my best hockey is when guys are coming after me that's when I drive myself more to be better than they are and I think it frustrates them."
Entering the game, Tootoo needed seven penalty minutes to pass Scott Hartnell's career Predator penalty minute record of 544 minutes. Tootoo's second fighting major put him in the all time lead in PIMs for the Preds.
After the game when the record was pointed out to him, Tootoo seemed unimpressed, "O yea? No clue. Perfect. Not much else to say, bottom line is we got two points and have to keep on winning."
"Toots was good," Barry Trotz related. "He played with a lot of energy. He and McArdle had something going on. McArdle was talking to him the whole time and Toots had enough of that."
On the second fight, Trotz said, "It (1st fight) wasn't much of a fight since he went down pretty easily, so he said let's go again. Bad move."
Scoring Five on Five
During the Predator's recent win streak, the Predators had become heavily dependent on the power play. Saturday's game was the second in a row where the man advantage did not produce. Barry Trotz did not see it as a bad thing that the game was won with five on five goals.
"All the goals were basically five on five," Trotz explained. "The good thing is that the power play has been so good for us in this last stretch it was good to win a game when it wasn't their night. You can't expect the power play to score two goals every night."
Dan Ellis' Play
It was a real positive for the Predators that Dan Ellis was able to step in after not playing for 2 1/2 weeks and play a solid game and pick up a critical win.
"They never really got a lot of second shots," said Barry Trotz. "Dan Ellis looked really solid, didn't look like he was rusty at all which was great."
Commenting on the long layoff, Trotz related, "I thought Ellie would be fine. He prepared really well. There were times last year where he didn't prepare the way I thought he should and it showed in his game. He's had really good practice habits and I think that is important and he has matured from last year."
Ellis was happy to be in net in front of the home crowd, "I haven't had a start here since the home opener. It's nice to come back here and play in front of the home crowd and it's a good feeling to feel like a real Nashville Predator."
On the lack of rebounds and second chance opportunities for the Panthers Ellis said, "It's something that I have tried to focus on. In watching Peks in the last few games, he is very strong on rebounds as it limits opportunities and I've had lots of time to practice and I've tried to improve in that area.
The Preds had a day off on Sunday before returning to the Sommet Center on Monday to end the home stand against the Northwest Division leading Calgary Flames. After Monday's game they travel to Minnesota on Wednesday, Chicago on Friday and then return home on Saturday to play the Wild and begin another five game home stand.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass