NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Maybe the Nashville Predators should’ve kept Rich Peverley.
Ilya Kovalchuk had a goal and an assist, and the Atlanta Thrashers routed the Predators 7-2 Saturday night for their second win in two nights. But Peverley, claimed by Atlanta off waivers a week ago, was a big key in both of those wins as he had the overtime goal with two assists Friday night and added three more assists against his old team.
Peverley credited Atlanta coach John Anderson with giving him a great chance to play, and he’s been on a line with Kovalchuk.
“I’m just really happy with the opportunity to not only play with great players, but I get to play penalty kill and power play so it’s been good,” Peverley said.
Anderson said he has seen in Peverley what he saw when he was with the Chicago Wolves and Peverley played for the Predators’ AHL affiliate in Milwaukee.
“He’s got tremendous vision, and he can really pass the puck. … All the things we hoped he’d be, so far he’s been,” Anderson said.
Zach Bogosian also had a goal and an assist, and Eric Perrin, Colby Armstrong, Bryan Little, Matthieu Schneider and Jim Slater added a goal apiece. It was the most goals Atlanta has scored in a game since a 6-1 win at Toronto on Nov. 25. The Thrashers won 4-3 in overtime Friday night over Toronto after trailing 3-0.
Nashville coach Barry Trotz said he told Peverley not to have any sympathy against his former team when they met again.
“He looks like he’s got more umph to his game, and I knew that was a dangerous type of thing. Some players, sometimes the change of scenery … first time he’s been really … put on waivers, he ended up having success with Kovalchuk. They clicked, and he’s scoring points. All those things you’re seeing in Rich Peverley are starting to come out now,” Trotz said.
Jordin Tootoo and Shea Weber each scored for Nashville on a night the Predators allowed the most goals since a 7-6 loss at Calgary on Nov. 6. The Predators lost their second straight and third in four games despite getting back captain Jason Arnott and Weber from injuries.
“It’s embarrassing,” Arnott said. “A sellout crowd for us tonight, and we put on a performance like that. I’m surprised they didn’t leave after the first period, to be honest. We had a talk in here. We know what’s got to happen, and now is the time to do it.”
Perrin got Atlanta off to a fast start with the first of the Thrashers’ four first-period goals. He grabbed a loose puck near the Nashville bench, skated up and slapped it past Dan Ellis.
Armstrong scored at 6:48 with a one-timer off the faceoff and Kovalchuk made it three goals in four shots when he skated up the slot alone and beat Ellis at 10:48. That was enough for Trotz, who replaced Ellis with Pekka Rinne. He received a nice cheer from fans when he stopped the first shot he faced.
The Predators didn’t help themselves offensively, either. They had an early power play trailing 2-0 but didn’t get a shot on net. Fans grew so frustrated they started yelling for someone to shoot only to watch the Predators lose a puck out of the zone.
Little made it 4-0 at 18:44 of the first when he skated around the net and flipped the puck inside the post, catching Rinne leaning back too late.
Bogosian, the third overall pick in the 2008 draft, scored his first NHL goal in his 12th game on a slap shot at 1:51 of the third, making it 6-1.
Peverley got his third assist of the game on Slater’s short-handed goal at 11:46 in the third.
“As long as we can keep going like that, I think things are going to go pretty good here,” Peverley said.
Notes: Thrashers centre Todd White had an assist to extend his points streak to six games. He has two goals and seven assists in that stretch. … Arnott had missed four straight games with a lower body injury. Weber was wearing a walking boot Friday. … It’s the fifth time this season Nashville has allowed at least six goals. … Tootoo’s goal was his first since Nov. 21.