Barry Trotz was nominated for the Jack Adams Award as the National Hockey League’s top coach for the performance his Nashville Predators turned in last regular season. He finished a distant second in the voting to Phoenix’ Dave Tippett when the award was given at the NHL Awards Ceremony last June. His name has been bandied about for consideration for the Adams this season, and Thursday night only strengthened his chances of hearing his name called in Las Vegas this June.
In the first period, newly acquired center Mike Fisher was hit in the face by a slap shot off of the stick of teammate Ryan Suter. Fisher left the ice and had to go back to the Nashville locker room for repairs, causing him to miss the remainder of the opening period. He wasn’t out for too long, as he returned for the start of the second sporting a nasty cut on his right cheek.
“It took a while just to get stitched up, but after that it was just stop the bleeding,” Fisher said. “After that, I felt fine.”
With Fisher sidelined, Trotz inserted Marcel Goc back between wingers Sergei Kostitsyn and Martin Erat, a line that has been the best Predator line for a majority of the season. Even after Fisher returned, the European combination stayed together until the 5:00 minute mark of the middle frame when Goc went awkwardly into the right boards and left the game. He did not return, and the team announced he had sustained an upper-body injury.
Following the game, Goc was seen leaving the arena with his left arm in a sling. Trotz said he’s, “probably doubtful for Saturday,” but later added, “Goc is a tough kid, you never know.”
At the start of the second, Fisher was reunited with Kostitsyn and Erat. Just over seven minutes after Goc went off, Steve Sullivan was hit in the face with a deflected puck. He fell to the ice and was escorted back to the locker room.
In his post game press conference, Trotz said that Sullivan was taken to Vanderbilt University Medical Center for some tests, but did not have an update on his condition.
With enough forwards for three lines plus an extra body up front, Trotz cobbled his lines together for the remainder of the game. In essence, he was MacGyver with his lines Thursday, and he MacGyvered his team to a 3-1 win over the NHL’s top team.
“It was a potpourri of lines that you saw today,” he said with a laugh. “I was trying to have some matchups. It was a little bit tougher when they had four lines and we had three. They could get away from it a little bit.”
All of the goal scoring in the Predators victory was done in a 4:58 span late in the second. After Martin Erat broke the scoreless tie at the 14:13 mark, Daniel Sedin tied the game just under four minutes later for Vancouver.
Nick Spaling scored just after the ensuing faceoff, and Fisher followed up 49-seconds later with his first as a Predator to conclude the scoring.
“We did lose a couple of forwards, but we were lucky to get Fish back after he got one in the face,” Spaling said. “(The coaches) made it work well. They had to mix it up and get players rest when they needed it.”
Pekka Rinne made the goals stand up, and was again excellent between the pipes for the Predators. He stopped 35 of the 36 Vancouver shots he faced.