The Nashville Predators’ banged-up offence was more than a match for the Vancouver Canucks’ depleted defence.
Mike Fisher scored his first goal since being traded to Nashville as the Predators beat the Canucks 3-1 Thursday for their third victory in four games.
Fisher scored 49 seconds after Nick Spaling’s goal late in the second period. He was back on the ice after taking a puck off his right cheekbone.
“It took a while to get stitched up, but after that it was just stopping the bleeding,” Fisher said. “I felt fine.”
The Predators needed Fisher back because forward Marcel Goc was injured early in the second period and didn’t return. Steve Sullivan also got hit by a puck to the face in the period, and he was taken to a local hospital for tests. That left Nashville coach Barry Trotz with 10 forwards, and he stayed busy mixing and matching three lines.
“It was a potpourri of lines that you saw out there,” Trotz said.
The ailing Canucks defence was missing Kevin Bieksa due to a broken bone in his left foot. He’s the sixth Vancouver defencemen out due to injury.
All the injuries and a couple of rookie replacements had defenceman Christian Ehrhoff on the ice for a game-high 27 minutes, 13 seconds.
“That’s definitely not the best team they can put on the ice, but at the same time they still had their top three lines and their fourth line,” Predators defenceman Shane O’Brien said. “That brings them some energy. So it was a good challenge.”
Elsewhere in the NHL it was: Edmonton 4 Montreal 1; Detroit 6 Tampa Bay 2; New York Rangers 4 Los Angeles 3 (SO); Boston 6 New York Islanders 3; Coyotes 4 Thrashers 3; and San Jose 3 Washington 2.
At Nashville, Tenn., Martin Erat had a goal and an assist, and Fisher’s goal was his first since he was traded to Nashville from Ottawa a week ago. The win pushed the Predators out of a tie with four other teams and into fourth in the Western Conference.
Nashville evened the season series at a game apiece. Vancouver, which leads the West, remained the NHL’s top team with 83 points.
Daniel Sedin scored a power-play goal for the Canucks, who were playing their third game in four nights.
Vancouver had its chances, outshooting Nashville 36-26, but goalie Pekka Rinne stopped 35 shots and improved to 15-2-1 when his team scores at least three goals.
“Their goalie played well,” Canucks forward Ryan Kesler said. “He won them the game. They got a couple of lucky bounces there that obviously when you tie the game and then give up two goals in 50 seconds you’re not going to come back against a team like that.”
The Predators had some unlucky bounces, too.
Fisher played only 3:12 of the first after taking a puck to his right cheek about midway through the period. He went directly to the dressing room for stitches but returned. Sullivan, however, didn’t return after taking a puck to his face late in the second, and Trotz said he would have an update Friday.
David Legwand tried to pass to Sullivan in the left circle for a shot, but the puck deflected off a stick and into Sullivan’s face. He dropped immediately to the ice where he was tended to before slowly skating off.
Erat put the Predators up 1-0 when he scored his 10th off a rebound of his own shot from the slot with a wrister past Roberto Luongo at 14:13. Nashville was called for too many men on the ice, and Sedin scored with a wrister from the right circle off an assist from twin brother Henrik 28 seconds later for a rare goal against the NHL’s best penalty killers on home ice.
That just fired up the Predators.
Patric Hornqvist corralled the puck near the boards off the faceoff and fired the puck at the net, where Spaling backhanded it past Luongo to put Nashville back ahead seven seconds later. Then Fisher, with stitches on his right cheek, tipped in Alexander Sulzer’s slap shot for a 3-1 lead at 19:11 of the second.
Trotz said scoring so quickly was huge for the Predators. Luongo said he didn’t see Fisher’s goal and hadn’t looked at a replay after the game yet, either.
“It was a pretty good tip by him, reaching out and deflecting it with the tip of his stick back towards the net. I didn’t see if it was a hand pass or not, but it was a pretty good play by Fisher,” Luongo said.
With the two-goal lead, Rinne just deflected shot after shot in the third to preserve the victory.
At Edmonton, Ales Hemsky scored twice to lead the Oilers over Montreal. The Oilers have won two straight at home following seven consecutive losses in Edmonton.
At Tampa, Fla., Pavel Datsyuk scored twice while Danny Cleary had a goal and two assists as Detroit beat the Lightning.
At New York, Henrik Lundqvist knocked Anze Kopitar’s shootout shot over the net to earn his 200th NHL win and give the Rangers a victory over Los Angeles.
At Uniondale, N.Y., Tuukka Rask stopped 34 shots and six Bruins scored as Boston snapped a three-game skid with a victory against New York.
At Glendale, Ariz., Martin Hanzal scored the go-ahead goal late in the second period, Keith Yandle had three assists and Phoenix beat Atlanta for its sixth straight victory.
At San Jose, Calif., Ryane Clowe and Dany Heatley scored third-period goals to help the Sharks beat Washington for the 14th time in their last 15 meetings.