If anyone questioned why the Predators acquired defenseman Hal Gill, they needed to watch Nashville's 3-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks Tuesday.
During the postseason a year ago, the Predators did a solid job on the Sedin twins with defensemen Ryan Suter and Shea Weber. However, center Ryan Kesler, on the "second" line, torched the Predators for 11 points in six games. Gill stifled Kesler on Tuesday, held him pointless and put him at a minus-1. Gill, meanwhile, had a shorthanded assist.
We knew the move could pay dividends for the Predators when they made it. It seemed like the right move at the right time. And, like center Mike Fisher a year ago, Gill has fit in seamlessly with the Predators and provided an important and steady presence on the back end.
With Gill in the lineup, the Predators have allowed three goals in their last two games. Gill also helped hold the NHL's leading power play to 0-for-2 Tuesday.
The victory for Nashville was as crucial as they come at this point in the season. The Predators won the season series against the Canucks 2-1-1. They also got off on the proverbial right foot for this four-game homestand, which continues Thursday against the St. Louis Blues. It's the longest remaining homestand of the season for Nashville, as it spends a large chunk of March on the road, so the Predators need to take as many games at home as possible before the final month of the season.
The Predators acquired defenseman Hal Gill for a game like Tuesday's. The Canucks featured two top scoring lines. This included center Ryan Kesler, who scored 11 points in six games against the Predators in the playoffs last year. Gill notched an assist and finished plus-1. Kesler was a minus-1 in 21:05 of action.
"It's always fun playing against guys who play hard," Gill said. "I enjoy the battles. You want to play against good players who are playing hard, and he usually does."
Center Mike Fisher missed Nashville's Feb. 19 game at Dallas with the flu. Whatever he put into his body to get better clearly worked. Fisher had a goal and two assists. His goal was on the power play and one of his assists came short-handed.
"I don't know what they put in the IV, but I'll take another one," Fisher said.
Canucks defenseman Dan Hamhuis has a good idea of what Predators defenseman Ryan Suter is going through. Hamhuis, who played with Nashville, was a pending unrestricted free agent after the 2009-10 season. The Predators opted to keep Hamhuis for their playoff run, but traded his rights after the postseason. Suter will be an unrestricted free agent if he and Nashville can't come to terms before July 1.
"It's a pretty major distraction. It's tough to put that aside," Hamhuis said. "They have an excellent opportunity this year to do something special. They have a really good team over there. I know they're pretty focused on what can come this year in making a deep run in the playoffs."
QUOTE TO NOTE
"Last couple of days hasn't been really fun for him. I was worried about his energy and strength. We'll get him on an IV tomorrow if he needs." -- Coach Barry Trotz, on C Mike Fisher, who missed Sunday's game but returned Tuesday.
C Mike Fisher took over Nashville's team goal-scoring lead. Fisher had a goal and two assists. He has 18 goals on the season.
D Hal Gill notched an assist in his first home game of the season. Gill's assist came shorthanded. He played 16:05 overall.
G Pekka Rinne picked up the NHL lead in wins with 33. In his last 22 decisions, he is 17-3-2 with a 1.93 goals against average and a .937 save percentage.