Patric Hornqvist spent much of Saturday night around the Carolina Hurricanes net doing whatever he could to put the puck in it.
Ultimately, the Nashville Predators forward was credited with two goals and had another one taken away following a video review.
With 5:32 to play, however, he bent down and with his right hand he actually scooped a puck out of that net. That’s because moments earlier Ryan Ellis found the back of it for his first career goal, the Predators’ last of the contest and their fourth on the power play (a season-high) in a 5-2 victory before a sellout crowd at Bridgestone Arena.
“That’s great for him,” Hornqvist said. “It’s a big memory for him. I remember when I was growing up I always dreamed of scoring in the NHL. He had a great game. … He’s a good player.”
The novelty of Hornqvist’s first goal wore off long ago. His two against the Hurricanes gave him 11 for this season and moved him past David Legwand for the team lead. They also gave him 64 for his career, which currently consists of 227 games played.
Like many of those that preceded them, these last two were not exactly works of art.
“One was off my shin pad and the other was laying there,” he said. “I saw the puck and threw it in the back of the net.”
Of course, Hornqvist was laying face down in the crease at the time he knocked in the second one, which gave Nashville a 4-0 lead fewer than seven minutes into the second period.
The common element of both goals was that the 25-year-old Swede was right at the front of the net when he scored them. It is there that he has carved out his reputation in the NHL and the importance of his presence at that spot was heightened given that Carolina, playing its second game in as many days went with goalie Justin Peters, who had only one previous NHL appearance this season.
“He can really make it hard on a goaltender,” coach Barry Trotz said. “I knew with them putting in Peters, a guy who hasn’t played much this year, … I really felt because he hasn’t had a lot of action that we had to get some net presence on him. Hornqvist was really very effective at that.”
He was credited with a game-high seven shots, which matched his season-high. He had eight shots in the previous four games combined.
The result was the 11th two-goal game of his career and his second of the season. Although he has yet to record an NHL hat trick he did not dispute the ruling that took his third off the board with just over nine minutes to play. After the game officials ruled he scored on a redirection of a Legwand shot, the video review determined he kicked it in with his left skate.
“I was asking if people could get their hats back,” Trotz said. “Hornie was really strong. He makes his living in getting to those dirty areas. … That’s Hornqvist.”
Ellis also had an assist — his first as well — but also had the Hurricanes’ last goal deflect in off his backside.
That, no doubt, was a moment he’d just as soon forget. At the very least it’s not likely to be the first thing that comes to mind when he looks at the puck Hornqvist retrieved for him.
• Colin Wilson returned after missing the previous three games with an upper body injury. He played on a line with Legwand and Hornqvist as Trotz shuffled all of his forward groups.
He registered one assist, his 15th of the season. His career-high is 18, set last season.
• Ellis, on scoring his first career goal, which was the last of the four power-play goals: “It was just good puck movement. I think our power play seemed to be doing pretty well. [Roman Josi] had kind of a fake shot and sucked in a couple of their guys and it opened me up.
“I just tried to get it to the net.”
• Mike Fisher tied his career-high with three assists, the last of which was the 200th of his career. The last time he had three was Jan. 18, 2010 at Boston, three weeks before Nashville traded for him.
Martin Erat (two assists) also had a multi-point game.