Slow starts have been problematic for the Nashville Predators in the two prior games of the current homestand, but the issue appeared resolved in the team's 6-2 win over the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night at Bridgestone Arena.
The Predators scored twice in the first 3:23 of the contest to jump-start the Preds offense who scored six goals for the first time in over two months and for only the third time this season.
Colin Wilson got the first marker, 2:03 into the game on a transition play. Wilson described the situation. "That's the way you want to start. It was a great pass by Toots over to me and it was good to get that early on and help to start the game."
Shea Weber scored eighty seconds later on an odd man rush after two quick set-up passes from Sergei Kostitsyn and Marty Erat.
"We wanted to have a quick start," explained Wilson. "That's what Trotzy always talks about. We're a better team with a lead so it was nice to get out there and get those two quick goals in the first."
Barry Trotz was also pleased with the early offense. "Both of the goals were transition goals. We defended well in our end. One quick outlet pass and away we went. We caught them a little bit on a couple plays where they got out-manned."
"We talked about last game," Trotz continued. "You always wonder if you learned any lessons. Hopefully we learned a little bit of a lesson there."
Nashville and San Jose traded goals before the end of the opening period with Patrick Marleau scoring for the Sharks and Kevin Klein scoring his fourth goal of the season, tying his career high in goals.
Klein's goal chased Sharks' stater Antti Niemi from the net after he had given up three goals on seven shots.
The middle stanza also saw a goal for each team with Joe Pavelski picking up his 23rd goal of the season and Weber putting a blast from the blue line to the net on the power play.
The game was still close in the final period as the Predators' offense appeared to have shut down, not getting a shot until the 14:59 mark of the period when Jordin Tootoo had a great scoring chance.
Wilson appeared frustrated with the lack of chances early in the third period. "We turned over a couple of pucks and they were able to transition and they are a very offensive team. I think we could have done a better job there just getting pucks out of the zone."
The Predators came alive with a pair of goals in the final two minutes of the game. Erat picked up an empty netter with two minutes remaining and Nick Spaling scored his career-high tenth goal of the year with 42 seconds left in the game.
Wilson assisted on the final goal and commented on the late flurry. "It was surprising. The guys just started getting pucks to the net realizing that it was the end of the game and we just wanted to play hard in the last five minutes and we did a good job."
Trotz reflected on the team's accomplishments on the current homestand. "We’re a good young hockey team, as we’ve seen. We’ve played St. Louis. we played Vancouver, and now we played San Jose. I was looking at this week and it could have gone a different way. We got five out of six points, and I think could have had six out of six."
The team is still in the chase for the Central Division and Western Conference titles. At the end of the evening, the Predators had 79 points and were seven points behind the conference leading Vancouver Canucks and six points behind division leader Detroit.
Wilson remained focused on the team's goal. "We want to catch the other teams. We aren't looking behind us, we're looking ahead. When the other teams are winning, we can only take care of ourselves and we're doing a really good job now so hopefully, they'll start losing."
The Predators will take Sunday off and return to the ice on Monday to finish off the four game homestand against the Los Angeles Kings.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOntheGlass