Predators 3, Senators 2
The veteran defenseman scored his first goal in 145 games Monday night, lifting the Predators to a 3-2 win over the Ottawa Senators.
“I was in shock,” Houlder said. “It has been a while. I hope it’s not another 100-whatever games till I do it again.”
Playing in his 200th consecutive game, Houlder put the Predators ahead 3-2 at 7:42 of the third when he skated in from the left circle, took a centering pass from Scott Walker and beat Ottawa goalie Patrick Lalime.
“It’s not very often when I get to skate and it’s just me and the goalie,” Houlder said. “I really opened up my stride.
“I yelled at Scott that I was open but I didn’t know if he heard me. I wanted to chip that one upstairs. My stick broke and it trickled in between Lalime’s legs.”
The Predators, with the lowest goal total in the NHL, will take a goal from anyone. Houlder was one of three players on the Nashville roster without a goal.
“When you need a goal, you never know who is going to step up,” Walker said. “It was a big one for Bill and a big one for us.”
Ottawa was unbeaten in six games (5-0-1) and had won nine times in 11 games (9-1-1).
Nashville coach Barry Trotz has been talking to the team about increasing the level of physical play.
“Part of the identity that you want is to be hard, especially in your own building,” Trotz said. “We have a lot of gritty guys when we’re healthy.
“We’re not a drop your gloves type of team. But Scott Hartnell, Adam Hall, Denis Pederson and Scott Walker are all gritty players who like to instigate. Those are the types of players we try to draft.”
The Predators took a 2-1 lead on the power play with 53 seconds left in the second period when Andy Delmore fired a wrist shot high over the glove hand of Lalime.
“They got one power play goal and we didn’t,” Ottawa coach Jacques Martin said. “That’s probably the difference in the game.”
“Every team is going to bring their best,” Ottawa’s Shane Hnidy said. “We have to play a full game. Give credit to Nashville. We knew they outplayed Detroit Saturday and they didn’t get the win so we knew we were in for abattle.”
Alfredsson has 11 points (two goals, nine assists) in his last six games. … The Predators are 10-1-0-2 this season when scoring three or more goals. … Walker has four assists in his last three games. … Leschyshyn played his first game after being sidelined the last five with a knee injury…. All 10 of Delmore’s goals this season have been on the power play.