Fisher rediscovers offense; Predators keep on winning

Saturday, March 26, 2011 at 11:43pm

Mike Fisher has not shown up on the Nashville Predators’ injury report in recent weeks.

He has not shown up on score sheet either.

The second part of that changed Saturday as Nashville’s most significant midseason acquisition broke through with a pair of second-period goals that rallied the Predators to a 4-2 victory over the Dallas Stars at Bridgestone Arena.

Fisher’s second goal put Nashville ahead to stay, and David Legwand iced things with an empty-net, shorthanded goal (his second goal of the night) two days after he passed up a pair of similar opportunities in order to try and get Sergei Kostitsyn a hat trick.

The victory was Nashville’s sixth straight (two short of the franchise record) as it held on to sixth place in the Western Conference standings. Its cushion over seventh-place Aneheim is now three points.

“Give a lot of credit to everybody,” coach Barry Trotz said. “They find ways to contribute. If it’s not on the score sheet, they’re blocking shots, being strong on the wall, giving you good energy shifts when the momentum is starting to swing.

“[Fisher] does so many other good things. I think he was a little snake-bitten and a little frustrated that he wasn’t scoring, [but] … he’s such a complete player in a lot of other ways.”

Fisher has not missed a game since the Predators gave up a first-round draft pick and a conditional selection to get him back on Feb. 10. In a statistical sense, though, he had gone MIA after he collected three points (one goal, two assists) in his first four games.

Before he scored 2:33 into the second period against the Stars, he had gone 12 contests without a point and 17 games since his lone goal with Nashville. In all, he had one goal in 20 appearances for the Predators.

It was Fisher’s fourth multi-goal game of the season. He scored two three different times for the Senators, the last of those on Dec. 9.

“Everybody knows that he’s a great player — there’s no question about that,” Patric Hornqvist, who assisted on both goals said. “Everybody goes through some tough times once in a while. … He got two big goals and, yeah, he’s going to get better now.”

As Fisher’s offensive numbers dropped so did his trips to the faceoff circle — and his success in there. He won more than 50 percent of his draws in just three of the preceding 11 contests.

The problem was an unspecified upper body injury.

“I’m feeling better, definitely,” he said. “I’m shooting the puck much better. … I definitely felt a lot stronger [Saturday] night.

“… The positive — and most important — thing is that we’ve been winning games. Guys have been chipping in and we’ve gotten goals from lots of guys and have been winning a lot. We just haven’t needed me, so that’s great.”

Against Dallas, he scored twice in a span 7:24. Both goals put Nashville in front, the first at 2-1 and the second at 3-2, in a game that was tied twice in the first 25 minutes.

He won five of six faceoffs through the first two periods before he struggled in the third and finished right at 50 percent. On top of that, he retained sole possession of the league lead in blocked shots by a forward with one, which increased his season total to 83.

“Everyone thinks he’s just an all-offensive guru,” defenseman Ryan Suter said. “But the [most goals] he’s ever gotten is [23]. If he can just keep chipping in, helping out and playing good at both ends of the ice — like he has been since he’s gotten here — then when he scores, that’s a bonus for us.”

Briefly

• With his first-period goal, Legwand accomplished a few things. He set a career-high with at least a point in six straight games. He now has nine points (six goals, three assists) over that time. He had five-game streaks four times previously, most recently Dec. 12-19, 2009.

It also was the third straight game in which he scored, which matched his longest streak of the season. His career-high is four games (Feb. 24-March 3, 2009).

Finally, he raised his season total to 40 points, and the empty-netter made it 41 (17 goals, 24 assists). It’s the fourth time in his career (11 seasons) he’s had at least that 40.

His second goal was his fourth empty-netter of the season, twice as many as anyone else on the team and one short of Scott Walker’s franchise record (2000-01).

• Nashville allowed a power-play goal for the fifth straight game, but managed to kill off three of four shorthanded situations, including one that covered the final two minutes of the contest after Suter was called for hooking.

“I thought I just ran into the guy,” Suter said. “I don’t want to get fined for saying something, but I thought it was a shoulder-to-shoulder hit.”

• The Predators are 14-21-3 when opponent scores first, but have won the last three. In addition to Dallas, Detroit (March 19) and Boston (March 17) also had 1-0 leads.

• Hornqvist had two assists for the second straight game and the third time in the last five. That gave him 22 for the season, one more than he had in 2009-10.