The Nashville Predators opened their season with a win over the Minnesota Wild. Defenseman Ryan Ellis along with forwards Matt Duchene and Filip Forsberg led the charge with their first multi-point games of the year.
After a scoreless first period, Ellis touched a Forsberg past Minnesota Wild goaltender Devin Dubnyk for the Predators’ first goal of the year. Minnesota’s Matt Dumba and Jason Zucker quickly replied and gave the Wild their first lead, although it did not last long.
27 seconds into the third period, Granlund tipped a Josi one-timer from the point to tie the game at two apiece. Later in the period, Watson deflected an Ellis shot from his back, and the Predators regained the lead. After Arvidsson buried a Smith rebound, the Predators had all they needed to win. Forsberg notched the final goal of the game, and Nashville earned their first victory of the year.
Starting on the third line, Kyle Turris centered wingers Rocco Grimaldi and Calle Jarnkrok. Turris, the playmaker on the line, carried that line the entire game and overall played phenomenally. Minnesota Wild forward Ryan Hartman laid a huge hit on Grimaldi early in the game; although he looked groggy, Grimaldi, along with Jarnkrok, need to contribute more to Turris’s solid play.
Turris fed the puck to the slot on four separate occasions, and neither winger was there to be found. If Turris is to be successful, he will need scoring support.
Mikael Granlund lived in front of the net, dominated at 5v5, and played extremely well with Matt Duchene and Filip Forsberg. On the ice, he saw 5 high danger chances for and none against. If Granlund plays the way he did against his former team against every opponent, he will be a top scorer for the Predators this year.
Matt Duchene recorded three secondary assists in his Nashville debut. He created some excellent chances for Forsberg early in the game and moved the puck efficiently on the man-advantage. Duchene’s net-front presence allows Viktor Arvidsson to hover around the slot, opening new shots for both players and more opportunities to score.
Ryan Ellis stole the show from his defensive partner, Roman Josi. Ellis finished the game with +4 plus-minus rating and produced offensively, and that is exactly what Nashville needs from him this year. However, Josi’s primary assist on Granlund’s goal was crucial to their victory. Expect these two players to impact Nashville tremendously as the weeks go on.
Nashville’s oldest rival, the Detroit Red Wings, fly into town this Saturday night. Puck drop is at 7pmCST. After Detroit, the Predators host the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday, October 8th.