NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP)—The defense is providing much of the offense for the Nashville Predators this season.
The youth of the defensive unit, led by Kimmo Timonen, the only player on the unit with more than two years of NHL experience, prompted concerns about their ability. While some of those concerns have been realized, there is no question that they can score.
Timonen and Marek Zidlicky had a power-play goal apiece, and Timonen assisted on a power-play goal and Zidlicky assisted on two in the Predators’ 6-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night, when Nashville’s defensemen accounted for two goals and five assists.
“Thats the new NHL,” Predators forward Steve Sullivan said. “You need your defensemen jumping up. Three guys in a rush usually isn’t enough. We have four or five guys on defense who are very capable offensively. That makes it a lot easier for us as forwards to know we have a second wave of attack. Most of our defensemen are getting real good scoring chances.”
“When you have production from all of your units it is pretty hard not to have success,” Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. “We had timely goals. We had power-play goals.”
Chris Mason made 28 saves starting in place of Tomas Vokoun, who will be out two to six weeks with ligament damage to his left thumb. The win gives the Predators a four-point lead over Detroit in the Central Division.
“We had a young guy playing in net for the second game of his career,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. “In that situation you want to do everything you can to not give up shots. But that wasn’t the case for us at all. You can’t leave here as a coach or as a player and not be disappointed.”
The first period was even with Zetterberg firing a slap shot past Mason to his stick side at 8:34.
Timonen answered at 18:28 on a 5-on-3 power play with a slap shot from the top of the slot that went over MacDonald’s pads.
The Predators had 11 shots on goal in the first and Detroit 10.
The Predators scored five times in the second period. Dumont started the attack at 6:33 when he scored while skating down the right side of the slot. Radulov scored at 7:54 as he went high to MacDonald’s stick side from the inside the right circle.
Zidlicky scored on the power play at 9:55. Hartnell scored the Predators’ third power-play goal of the game and second of the period at 12:02. He posted up in front of MacDonald. Timonen fired the puck from just inside the blue line and Hartnell redirected the puck into the net.
Kariya closed out the second period scoring at 15:50, finding an opening from inside the right circle.
“One thing I liked about that was that when we got the second and third goals in the period we weren’t satisfied,” Trotz said. “We got them on the ropes. We had the killer instinct. We wanted to keep it going to see if they were going to break. And we were able to break them in the second period.”
Mason gave up his second goal of the game at 12:21 of the third period as Lang skated in from the right side and beat him to his glove side.
“I’ve felt good so far this season,” Mason said. “I just want to try to help the team. I’m going to hang in there and do my part while Tomas is getting better.”
The Predators have outscored their opponents 32-11 in the second period. Kariya has nine points (two goals, seven assists) in his last seven games. Hartnell, with four penalty minutes, moved ahead of former Predator Scott Walker as the all-time penalty minutes leader with 461. Lang’s goal was the 200th of his career. Zetterberg added to his team lead in goals for Detroit with eight.