Suter powers Predators past Thrashers

By Phil Foley
PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

ATLANTA (Ticker) — Ryan Suter had the Nashville Predators
partying like it was 1999 on a bizarre night at Philips Arena.

Suter scored 1:43 into overtime and Scot Nichol found the net
with an improbable second-period goal, leading the Predators to
a 4-3 win over the Atlanta Thrashers on Friday.

Fellow blue-liner Dan Hamhuis notched a goal and an assist and
captain Jason Arnott also tallied for the Predators, who won
here for the first time since 1999 – the Thrashers’ first season
in the NHL.

“That was pretty cool,” Suter said of his goal. “Game Seven of
the Stanley Cup Finals would have been better, but that will do
for now.”

Defenseman Nathan Oystrick had a goal and an assist, Ilya
Kovalchuk and Todd White also scored and Jason Williams had two
assists for Atlanta, which is 1-4-1 in its last six contests.

“(It was a) sloppy game tonight,” White said. “We did not play
a full 60 minutes.”

With the game tied after 60 minutes, Nashville goaltender Pekka
Rinne dished the puck to defenseman Shea Weber, who blistered a
pass toward his linemate Suter at the Atlanta blueline.

All by his lonesome, Suter caught the pass with his glove,
deposited it onto his stick, waltzed over the blue line and
uncorked a slap shot from the left faceoff circle. Atlanta
netminder Johan Hedberg slowed down the puck, but could not stop
it from going between his legs and into the net to give the
Predators the victory.

“I was aiming five-hole,” Suter said. “Luckily, it snuck in

“That was a great (play),” Nashville coach Barry Trotz. “It was
a smart play for Ryan. He saw they went for a change and he
jumped up and he got all alone.”

Rinne set aside 22 shots en route to improving to 3-0-0 on the

“Big win,” Rinne said. “Big goal by Suter. I’m happy with my
wins. That’s the most important stat for me. The more wins I
get, the more games I get.”

Hamhuis opened the scoring with a shorthanded tally, taking
Vernon Fiddler’s backhanded pass and blasting the puck into the
top right corner of the net from between the circles 8:39 into
the contest before Atlanta answered back on a bizarre goal.

Hamhuis’ centering pass from behind the Nashville goal bounced
off the shaft of the stick of White and took a lucky bounce
between the pads of Rinne to tie the game at 1-1 with 3:21
remaining in the first period.

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“(White) had his stick half-way through, and it hit his shaft,”
Trotz said. “Pekka was caught off-guard.”

But things just kept on getting stranger at Philips Arena.

Nichol and the Predators jumped ahead again with a mind-boggling
tally 42 seconds into the second session. The Nashville center
ripped a slap shot from between the circles that went over the
right shoulder of goaltender Johan Hedberg, into the net and
through the netting for his third goal of the season.

The shot was initially waived off by the officials at the arena,
but the call was overruled seconds later upon video review,
which showed streaks of black rubber marks on either side of the
nylon and twine opening where the puck somehow slid through.

The net, which is designed to an approximate tensile strength of
700 pounds, could not hold the puck – but remained perfectly

“(I haven’t seen that) for a while for a while, not without it
getting through without a hole in (the net),” Trotz said.
“Scott Nichol was saying that’s what you can do when you work
out in the summer.”

“It was a little weirder than I’ve seen it before,” Atlanta
coach John Anderson said. “It was a good shot. What are you
going to do?”

Atlanta tied the contest on Oystrick’s second goal of the season
midway through the second before Arnott put the Predators back
ahead, burying the puck into the unoccupied left side of the net
from the doorstep at 6:21 of the third period.

That tally upset Anderson, who thought that the referees should
have called a hooking penalty on Nashville.

“I was concerned about their third goal,” Anderson said.
“Clearly, a hook on (defenseman Ron) Hainsey. They got control
of the puck, it goes right to the guy in front of the net and it
goes in. That concerns me a lot when that’s not called. That
can’t be missed.”

Kovalchuk leveled the contest, taking a backhanded pass from
Oystrick and burying it past Rinne for his eighth goal of the
season at 10:26 of the third.

Hedberg set aside 22 shots for the Thrashers, who fell to 8-11-3
on the season.