PHILADELPHIA – Shea Weber finally made himself at home in Philadelphia.
The Nashville Predators were glad their captain was still on their side.
Weber had a goal and two assists, and Roman Josi scored the shootout winner to lift the Predators to a 4-3 win over the Flyers on Thursday night.
Josi beat Flyers goalie Steve Mason for the last of a combined five shootout goals to give the Predators the needed road win as they chase a playoff spot.
Weber had a big night in his first game against Philadelphia since the Flyers made him a $110 million, 14-year offer in the summer of 2012. The Predators matched the deal, keeping him in Nashville. He declined to go into detail about his return to Philly, simply stating he was happy with the win.
He wasn’t even booed by the fans, though Flyers forward Scott Hartnell got in his ear.
“Just Hartsy cause he’s always chirping,” Weber said, smiling. “But that’s nothing new, though.”
Weber snapped a tie game with a power-play goal early in the third period. Wayne Simmonds tied the game 3-all with a power-play goal with 1:24 left in regulation to send the game into OT.
Eric Nystrom and David Legwand also scored in regulation for Nashville. Brayden Schenn and Andrej Meszaros scored for the Flyers.
“We moved our feet, made the right plays and played the way we wanted to play,” Flyers captain Giroux said. “We had our chances. We played well and were able to tie it up at the end there. They just did a good job in finding a way to get the two points.”
Nashville dug deep into the pocketbook and decided to pay Weber the $110 million over 14 years offered by the Flyers. The Flyers were looking for someone to fill the void left in defenceman Chris Pronger’s absence. Instead, they were left scrambling without the former All-Star and Olympic gold medallist . Even with their captain in the fold, the Predators are fighting for a playoff spot in the Western Conference.
They can thank Weber’s 12th goal for setting up this win—and one incredible save by Carter Hutton.
The Predators acquired Oilers goaltender Devan Dubnyk this week, but went with Hutton in front of another sold out Philadelphia crowd.
Hutton was behind the net as he chased a puck that knocked off the boards and back to a charging Michael Raffl, who had an open look at the net and fired for the seemingly easy goal. Hutton hustled like an All-Star shortstop and made a diving grab to snatch the puck.
Raffl could only shake his head in disbelief on the second period stop.
That was just the break the Predators needed.
“That was sick,” Josi said. “That’s going to be on the highlight reel for a long time. He was more like a soccer goalie on that save.”
The Flyers needed only 1:26 into the game to score when Schenn tapped in a loose puck for his 13th goal of the season.
The fast start was short-lived.
Nashville scored the next two goals, erasing Philadelphia’s early momentum.
Raffl whiffed as he tried to clear the puck, giving Gabriel Borque a look at the net. His shot was deflected by Nystrom for his seventh goal.
The Flyers were then down two players after Kimmo Timonen was whistled for boarding and Giroux for tripping. The Predators failed to score on their 1:18 of a 5-on-3 advantage, but just as Giroux’s penalty came off the clock, Legwand connected on a one-timer for a 2-1 lead.
Weber assisted on the first two goals, exactly the kind of play the Flyers expected when they made him the monster offer.
One of the worst teams in the league at protecting the puck, the Flyers had seven giveaways in the first period.
“I thought we may have been sitting back a little too much,” Schenn said. “Obviously, they are a very quick team who works hard. When you sit back they’re going to take it to you.”
Meszaros tied the game 2-all with 3.6 seconds left in the second period.
NOTES: The Flyers have lost two straight at home after winning 10 straight at home. … The Predators won in Philadelphia for the first time since 2006. … Weber leads NHL defenceman with 12 goals.