NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE (TICKER) —Defenseman Mark Eaton cost his former team a point but was unable to stave off elimination for his current one.
With the goal, Nashville earned a point but was eliminated from postseason contention for the fifth time in as many seasons.
After going undrafted, Eaton signed with Philadelphia as a free agent in 1998 and made his NHL debut with the Flyers in the 1999-00 season, appearing in 27 regular-season games and seven during the playoffs. Traded to Nashville before the 2000-01 campaign, Eaton made his former organization regret it in this contest.
With time winding down and the Predators down a goal, Scott Hartnell chased down a loose puck behind the Philadelphia net and dished to Eaton, who put a shot from the low slot into the top left corner for his second tally of the season.
“I wish I could say that’s where I was aiming, but usually with one-timers you aren’t trying to pick a spot,” Eaton said. “I knew the place to go was high, and I was fortunate to get it past him. … Playing against your old team, you always feel like you have something to prove to them.”
“Mark is playing more, getting more confidence, getting more experience and becoming a good defenseman for us,” Nashville coach Barry Trotz added.
Roman Cechmanek returned from a four-game absence due to a groin injury for the Flyers and made 20 saves, including several key stops in overtime.
Nashville’s Scott Walker had the best scoring chance in the extra period. On a partial breakaway, he fired a shot from the right faceoff circle. Cechmanek came way out of his crease to cut down the angle and was able to smother the slapper.
Tomas Vokoun turned aside 42 shots for the Predators, whose fall from playoff contention was the result of their current nine-game winless skid (0-5-3-1).
“This stretch has been really hard on us, it has been a disappointing stretch,” Trotz admitted.
“It was a blast for me tonight,” Vokoun said. “They are a shooting team.”
Michal Handzus netted his third goal in two games for Philadelphia, which remained unbeaten in four all-time visits to Nashville (2-0-2).
With 8:55 to go in the third period, Donald Brashear fired a pass off the right boards to Handzus in the low slot. Handzus faked Vokoun to the left, then lifted a backhander over the goalie’s left shoulder.
“I knew I had to go upstairs and I knew I had to be as quick as I could be because he is very quick and very good,” Handzus said.
“He was all alone, he made the deke and he put it upstairs,” Vokoun said.
Both teams registered two shots in overtime.
“Their goalie was good, but we had a one-goal lead and we stopped moving our feet,” Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock said.
“It was a spectacular performance by (Vokoun),” Philadelphia center Jeremy Roenick added. “If it wasn’t for him, it would have been 8-1 or 9-1.”
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