The Nashville Predators got some help Tuesday night when center Mike Fisher and defenseman Francis Bouillon returned to the lineup making their season debuts.
The Predators lost the game by a 3-1 score to the San Jose Sharks at Bridgestone Arena in front of 15 121 fans in attendance.
Despite the loss, Bouillon was thrilled to have that first game under his belt.
“I was a little bit nervous at the beginning,” Bouillon admitted, adding ”but after a few shifts it felt normal out there. It was really fast and I’m probably going to need a few more games, but so far it was good.”
Bouillon said he tried to keep things simple after being out of the lineup for such a long time. The defenseman has not played a game since suffering a concussion in January.
There was a scary moment for Bouillon in the second period. Sharks forward Brad Winchester tried to check Bouillon but his elbow caught the 5’8 Bouillon in the head. Winchester was assessed a penalty for the illegal check to the head.
“He’s a big boy and I’m pretty small. It was a high elbow, but no problem. I’m still here and I need to think about the next game,” 36 year old said.
During the first period, Bouillon leveled Winchester. “I have no idea,” Bouillon said when asked if Winchester’s hit was retaliation, adding that he was actually unaware it was Winchester he hit into the boards. ”He just finished his check and his elbow was high. I don’t know. He didn’t say anything after the hit.”
Bouillon played 17:32 and had three hits and a blocked shot in his first game back for the Predators.
Jack Hillen was paired with Bouillon and thought the veteran looked comfortable on the ice from the start of the game. ”It was great playing with him. I don’t think he missed one step. He was right back in it. He’s ready to go,” Hillen said.
Head Coach Barry Trotz agrees with Hillen’s assessment of Bouillon.
“I was really impressed with Frankie [Bouillon]. You can see that he’s a veteran, poised player. He wasn’t backing down from anybody; he didn’t play shy. It was good to see him play, but because he’s such a great person — he’s one of those teammates that everybody cheers for,” Trotz said.
Nashville was outshot by the Sharks by a 36-20 margin. It was the 8th consecutive game that the Predators were outshot.
San Jose opened the scoring in the first period when Logan Couture scored his second goal of the season shorthanded. There were six seconds left on the Predators first man advantage of the game when Couture picked up the rebound off a Martin Havlat shot and put the puck behind Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne.
Nashville tied the game in the third period when Craig Smith scored on the power play but the Predators were unable to maintain momentum. Less than a minute after the Smith goal, Joe Pavelski scored on Rinne when he banged the puck across the goal line at the side of the net.
Pavelski added the empty net goal for the Sharks.
Nashville’s homestand continues on Thursday night when the Predators host the Tampa Bay Lightning. Game time is 7 pm CT.
Photo credit: AP