The Nashville Predators beat the Winnipeg Jets by a 3-1 score in front of a sold out Bridgestone Arena on Saturday night. The game marked the season debut of Alexander Radulov for the Predators.
Halischuk (right) and Bourque (center) both scored for Nashville on Saturday night.
After a scoreless first period Nashville opened scoring just 2:56 into the middle frame when Radulov set up Matt Halischuk for his 13th goal of the season.Kevin Klein also picked up an assist on the play.
Halischuk gave credit to the newest member of the Predators active roster for the tally.
“It was a great play,” Halischuk explained. “I was just trying to support him, and [Radulov] made a great pass and got me some space. I was just lucky enough to get a good shot off. I’m sure when you have a guy like [Radulov] coming with the puck, he definitely grabs all the attention, so he was able to make a nice play.”
In his first two games back with Nashville, Radulov has a goal and an assist. The forward does not want to focus on keeping track of how many points he puts up on the scoreboard. For the 25 year old, winning games is why he returned to Nashville.
“I’m trying to not focus on that. The playoffs are coming up, and it doesn’t matter who is going to score or get the assist; we need the whole team to work together. We just need to play our game and win some hockey games – that’s it.”
On Saturday night, the whole team did work together. Nashville got goal scoring from the bottom-six forwards, something that has been eluding the Predators squad in the last five games. In fact, Craig Smith’s goal against the Phoenix Coyotes on March 12th is the last time a member of the third or fourth line picked up a goal for the Predators. Defenseman Francis Bouillon also picked up a goal in that game.
While Halischuk is quick to credit those around him, Head Coach Barry Trotz praises the right wingfor his strong foundations and diligent work ethic.
“That’s why I scratch him, because I know that every time I put him back in he’s going to score. [Halischuk] is one of those guys that I probably don’t give enough due on how important he is to the team. He’s one of those guys where it’s always about the team and never about [himself]. He just goes out and works,” Trotz said.
The bottom six continued to perform when Gabriel Bourque made it a 2-0 game. Bourque picked up his fifth goal of the season when he scored on the backhand at 10:01 of the second period. Nick Spaling and Andrei Kostitsyn picked up the assists.
The Jets made it a one-goal game with 7:07 left in regulation when Tim Stapleton scored his 11th goal of the campaign. The Predators added an empty net power play marker with just 10 seconds remaining in regulation with Predators Captain Shea Weber picking up his 15th goal of the year.
Paul Gaustad returned to the lineup after missing the previous four games with an upper body injury going 12 and 8 for 60 percent in the faceoff circle.
Nashville now plays Chicago on Sunday night at 6:30 pm as the Predators head out on a three-game road trip around the Central Division.