Updated: Oct 13, 2019
If the first game of the season is any indication as to how the rest of it will go, the Predators are off to a great start.
The first period yielded no scoring, after a called goal by Mikael Granlund was waved off for being scored with a high stick. It was a good call by the referees, but it nonetheless made every Preds fan everywhere uncomfortable for having gotten irrationally excited for the first goal of the season. The Preds out shot the Wild 14-6 in the first frame.
Ryan Ellis finally got things going early in the second period, deflecting a feed with his skate from Filip Forsberg that skipped past Minnesota goalie Devan Dubnyk's left pad. Matt Duchene and Forsberg were credited with the assists.
Things got a little troubling in the latter half of the second. The Wild's Jason Zucker deflected a slapshot by defenseman Brad Hunt on the power play for Minnesota's first goal. 43 seconds later, Matt Dumba beat Yannick Weber's diving block attempt and snapped a wrist shot through the upper left corner of Pekka Rinne's net. Talk about taking the air out of a room. The Preds' shot totals were much lower in the second period, with only an additional eight shots (the Wild had another six), signifying less success in their zone entries. The Wild lead the game 2-1 at the end of the period.
Peter Laviolette must have pulled out the blowtorch in second intermission, because Granlund scored less than 30 seconds into the third period (this one counted). Granlund, with the game's third deflection, redirected a one-timer by Roman Josi that snuck behind Dubnyk for the Preds' second goal of the night. Josi and Duchene got the assist tallies. Before the fans in Bridgestone Arena even finished their "You Suck" chants, Austin Watson, from a sitting position, redirected a shot from Ellis through Dubnyk's five-hole. Ellis and Nick Bonino took the apples for the goal.
After that, it was all offense for the Preds. Viktor Arvidsson scooped up a Craig Smith rebound that bounced off Dubnyk's right pad and proceeded to zip it under his right arm for goal number four. Arvy certainly set his pace to repeat, or perhaps exceed, his franchise-record 34 goals in a single season. Smith and Ryan Johansen set Arvidsson up with the assists. The Wild pulled Dubnyk in desperation for an extra attacker, but it didn't stop Forsberg from sidling right up to the crease and easily tapping in a centering pass from Mattias Ekholm.
The four-goal explosion by the Preds in the third period was, hopefully, a glimpse at what we can expect from this more fortified, stout offense. They looked more confident and faster than they ever were against Dallas in the 2018-2019 playoffs.
Duchene was credited with the secondary assist on Forsberg's empty-netter, which put him at an impressive three assists for his game total- and his first three points as a Nashville Predator. Forsberg and Ellis each had a goal and an assist. Ellis finished the game with a +4 rating, Josi with a +3. The only Predators to record negative ratings were Weber (-1) and Dan Hamhuis (-1).