Patric Hornqvist basically saw to it that the Nashville Predators would not be outshot for a 10th straight time. His foray to the front of the Anaheim Ducks net in the opening moments of Saturday’s contest at Bridgestone Arena also set his team up for what turned out to be a 3-0 victory.
Fourteen seconds after the opening faceoff the Predators led 1-0 and had a 5-0 edge in shots, the last four — plus the goal — by Hornqvist in the span of three seconds as he battled goalie Jonas Hiller for the rebound of Colin Wilson’s shot from the left wing.
“It was staying on his pad and I just tried to jam it, jam it, jam it,” Hornqvist said. “Finally he must have slipped or something because it seemed like I had an open net.
“It is nice to see it go in, and good things happen when you throw pucks at the net.”
He ought to know.
The final overall pick in the 2005 draft set the franchise record with 275 shots in 2009-10. Last season he fell 10 short of that mark, which was still the second-highest total in team history.
He scored a total of 51 goals over those two seasons, including 30 in 2009-10. In so doing, he joined Jason Arnott, Paul Kariya and Steve Sullivan as the only Nashville players ever with at least 30 goals in a season.
His goal against Anaheim was just his second of the season but also his second in as many games. A minor injury early in the month caused him to miss one game and made it difficult to play with his normal approach.
“You talk about at Patric Honrqvist goal, his two goals this year are Patric Hornqvist goals,” coach Barry Trotz said. “… I don’t think he’s going to get any from the blue line, but he’s going to get them from the blue paint and right [near] the goalie.”
He will try to continue his resurgence as the Predators aim to win three straight for the first time this season when they face division rival Chicago, 7:30 p.m. Monday (Fox Sports-Tennessee). In 14 career games against the Blackhawks he has just one goal with no assists.
Chicago is third in the Western Conference in shots on goal with 105 more than the Predators through the same number of games (10) and has outshot the opposition 10 times.
Through the first nine contests, Nashville had been outshot by as few as three and as many as 19 and was one of only two teams (the New York Rangers were the other) that had not had an edge in shots as of the start of play Saturday.
Spurred by Hornqvist, the Predators had 16 by the end of the first period, which was as many or more than they had in three entire games. They finished the night with a 29-20 advantage. The 29 shots were the most in six games.
“He went hard to the front of the net,” captain Shea Weber said. “Wilson threw it there and you know he’s not going to give up — he is going to keep whacking until there is a whistle. He did what he does best.”
With 10 shots in the last two contests, Hornqvist currently ranks third on the team with 21. His shooting percentage is third worst among all Nashville players who have scored at least once, but as his goal against the Ducks proved, often it takes more than one for him to score.
“He went to the net right off the bat, and he doesn’t go by the net – he stops there and he gets two or three whacks,” Trotz said. “He was able to get it by the pads, and that’s a Patric Hornqvist goal.”