Ryan Ellis’ career firsts propel Preds to victory over Hurricanes…

Ryan Ellis first points (Sarah Fuqua) BANNER

From the Windsor Spitfires to Team Canada at the World Juniors to the Milwaukee Admirals to the Nashville Predators. He may not have known the date but Ryan Ellis has been waiting for this game his whole life.

In front of yet another sold out Bridgestone Arena crowd, the Freelton, Ontario native collected his first career assist and his first career goal in Nashville’s 5-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes.

Pekka Rinne made 27 saves, improving to 20-11-4 on the season.

Just 10:46 into the contest, Martin Erat, on the halfboards, set Shea Weber up for a beautiful one-timer. The blast from the blueline had a vapor trail on it and beat Justin Peters glove-side to open the scoring.

A few minutes later, with Chad LaRose in the penalty box, the Predators attempted a play that rarely works: the through-the-box pass. David Legwand sent a feed cross-ice to rookie forward Craig Smith who one-timed it past Peters to make it 2-0.

Late in the second, Mike Fisher found an Ellis rebound on his stick in the high slot. He bared down and wristed a laser past the Blyth, Ontario native to make it 3-0, home team.

The assist was Ellis’ first career point.

“I’ve been trying the first few games,” Ellis, the most decorated defenseman in Canadian Major Junior history, said. “To get a couple (points) tonight was definitely very nice.”

In the final frame, Nashville collected their third power play goal of the game when Patric Hornqvist, while laying on the ice, swept the puck into the net to make it 4-0. It was a mad scramble that saw all kinds of bodies flopping on the ice but Hornqvist, who waved his stick at the loose puck, ended up the beneficiary of a lucky bounce.

Carolina finally answered, however. Defenseman Jay Harrison got the puck on his stick near the blueline and wristed a shot that found its way through traffic and into the net behind Rinne. It took Carolina 48:35 to get on the board and it proved to be too little, too late.

With just over 6:00 left, Rinne made a larcenous save on Bryan Allen. Following a 2-on-1 shorthanded break by Carolina, Brandon Sutter carried in and got the initial chance but the prime scoring opportunity came from the stick of Allen who had an empty net to shoot at. The Nashville netminder lunged across the crease and snared it with the glove to keep the game at 4-1.

Just minutes later Ellis scored his first career NHL goal with a huge Weber-like blast.

“Obviously it’s a lot easier to play on the power play against one less guy,” Ellis said about his first goal. “I’m playing with some great players and they made some great plays. I just happened to be on the receiving end.”

Harrison would add a second goal with 2:04 left in regulation but the damage had already been done.

Nashville will leave the friendly confines of 501 Broadway so they can travel to Denver, Colorado for Tuesday’s tilt against the Avalanche. It’s the first meeting between the two clubs this season, the last Western Conference team to play the Preds.

Puck drops at 8:00pm Central and you can watch all the action — with us! — at your “303 Away Game Headquarters” all season long, Brewhouse South in Franklin. Bust out your favorite Predators regalia and bring your appetite! See you there.

MY THREE STARS (as voted on with 3:50 left in regulation):
1) Patric Hornqvist (NSH)
2) Mike Fisher (NSH)
3) Ryan Ellis (NSH)

THE THREE STARS OF THE GAME:
1) Patric Hornqvist (NSH)
2) Pekka Rinne (NSH)
3) Ryan Ellis (NSH)

PHOTO CREDIT: Sarah Fuqua // Flickr (used with permission)