Jordin Tootoo made his return to the Predators lineup on Saturday night in Nashville’s 3-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks at Bridgestone Arena in front of a sold out crowd. Tootoo was suspended for two games after running into Buffalo Sabres netminder Ryan Miller last Saturday.
In one of Tootoo’s more dominate performances, the right wing was named first star of the game after scoring, picking up an assist, and drawing a penalty that resulted in a goal for Nashville.
While there is no love lost between the two clubs, Tootoo says it doesn’t matter who the Predators are playing, the most important thing is the win.
“It is always great to contribute. It doesn’t matter who you play against. I know there is a lot of animosity between us but at the end of the day we are here to get two points,” Tootoo said.
With the game tied at 1-1, Tootoo scored on a play that saw him go nearly end-to-end.
“Klein made a tremendous play. I was just slicing through the middle of the ice. When we made eye contact we both knew what the situation was going to be and I got it from him, pulled the puck to my forehand and went top shelf,” Tootoo explained. It was Tootoo’s fourth goal of the season.
Nick Spaling, who scored Nashville’s first goal of the game playing on a line with Tootoo and Colin Wilson, says Tootoo is an important part of the Predators team and his hard work pays off. “He is really valuable for us. Having him back in the lineup helped. He creates a lot of energy, a lot of room. It is great when he can put the puck in the back of the net too,” Spaling said, adding “He was making plays out there tonight. His goal was the result of his hard work.”
Roman Josi notched his first NHL goal, scoring on the power play for Nashville at 2:33 into the third period to give the Predators a 2-1 lead. Tootoo drew the penalty when Brandon McMillan slashed the pesky right wing. Incidentally, Corey Perry also slashed Tootoo during the same shift, but Tootoo kept his cool and did not retaliate.
“Part of my game is to get under their skin, it doesn’t matter who we are playing. The media plays it up a little bit, but I could care less who we are playing against. When you get their top guys rattled, I know I am doing my job,” Tootoo said about the penalty.
Ryan Getzlaf didn’t like the call on McMillan. “It’s frustrating when you work as hard as we did. A cheesy penalty comes up and it’s the difference in a hockey game. It’s frustrating when you are struggling and things like that happen.”
The Ducks Head Coach, Bruce Boudreau, also called the penalty cheesy, but blamed the call on the lack of discipline from his team. “That was a pretty cheesy call, but at the same time, there is no need to even put yourself in that position. It wasn’t much of anything, but at the same time, you don’t even need to put your stick there. He gave you a good hit, suck it up and live to fight another day.”
Anaheim was able to come within a goal of tying the game when Francois Beauchemin scored 13:24 into the third period to make it a 3-2 game, but the Predators were able to hang on for their fifth win at home in 13 tries.
Predators Head Coach Barry Trotz liked Tootoo’s game Saturday night and said the Predators are lucky to have the Churchill, Manitoba native. “There’s a couple players like Toot’s around the league that when they’re playing against us I absolutely hate them but I would do probably anything to get them on our team, we’re just fortunate he’s on our team.”
Photo credit: AP