The Nashville Predators smothered the Montreal Canadiens 4-1 thanks to Craig Smith. Nashville is a mere one point away from first in the Central Division and have fought their way back to seventh in the league.

Nashville Key Stats

Goals

Craig Smith (2), Mattias Ekholm, Viktor Arvidsson

Assists

P.K. Subban (2), Mattias Ekholm, Rocco Grimaldi, Calle Jarnkrok, Kevin Fiala

Montreal Key Stats

Goals

Shea Weber

Assists

Jesperi Kotkaniemi

What Happened

Net front presence was ever apparent for the Predators, as Craig Smith started the scoring affairs for Nashville in the first period. At 10:44, after P.K. Subban slapped one from the blueline, Smith cleaned up the rebound. Ekholm later slapped one of his own past Carey Price at 19:24 to give Nashville a comfortable 2-0 lead going into the second period.

At 12:47, Shea Weber finally scored against his former team, as a weird wrist shot somehow found its way into the net through heavy traffic. Smith spoiled the celebration with a wrap-around goal at 13:05 and Nashville maintained a two-goal lead for the rest of the game. Viktor Arvidsson continued on his tear with an empty net goal at 19:15 in the third period.

The Predators played their cleanest and fastest game against the Canadiens, and stunned Montreal in all three periods. Juuse Saros was lights out, allowing one goal on 28 shots, and Nashville’s penalty kill was tested only once. Prior to the game, Miikka Salomaki was placed on the Injured Reserve list with a day-to-day upper body injury.

Looking Forward

Calle Jarnkrok has assists in back-to-back games, and replaced Ryan Hartman on the first line. He won half his face-offs, registered one hit, and shot the puck three times.

In the last 13 games, Austin Watson and Hartman have combined for three points. Watson has yet to crack ten points this year despite his hot start. Both players could use a boost in terms of offense.

In the last five games, Mattias Ekholm has casually picked up six points, Ryan Ellis and P.K. Subban have picked up three, and Roman Josi has picked up two. Offense from the defense is a necessity for Nashville, and it appears the four defensemen are doing what they do best.

Viktor Arvidsson has four goals in his last four games and five points in his last five. It’s no coincidence that since he returned from injury, Nashville has subtly closed the gap between them and the Winnipeg Jets, who hold a slim one point lead in the standings.

Rocco Grimaldi continued his points streak with his primary assist to accompany Ekholm’s first period goal. “Rocket Man” has undoubtedly earned a spot in the lineup when everyone comes back, and proves it every time his skates hit the ice. He, along with Frederick Gaudreau, are doing an excellent job holding the fourth line together.

Colton Sissons was placed on the second line after missing seven games with an ankle injury. The reliable forward won 53.3% of his faceoffs and registered one hit.

Also, Nashville is finally heating up, and Filip Forsberg is nearing his return. King Fil and a raging Nashville offense will be a force to be reckoned with.

-Jack Woods covers the Nashville Predators and the Central Division for PenaltyBoxRadio.com and FullPressCoverage.com. You can follow Jack on Twitter at @jack_woods15 and the Full Press Predators at @FPC_Predators

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