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Baby Erat’s hands go up as Preds rout the Sharks…

Martin Erat and his wife welcomed their first son, Sebastian, into the world on Friday. On Saturday, he welcomed him into the world by putting on a show.

The 17th sellout crowd of the season witnessed the new dad pick up a goal and an assist in the Nashville Predators’ 6-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks. The “goal, assist and baby” is also known as the “David Legwand hat trick” from when he accomplished the feat back on November 21, 2009.

Pekka Rinne turned aside 32 of the 34 Sharks shots, including all 16 in the third period, en route to his 34th win of the season, a new career high.

Colin Wilson got the ball rolling early in the opening period. Jordin Tootoo broke in 2-on-1 with Wilson and when Colin White committed to the wrong man, Wilson one-timed it past Antti Niemi for the opening tally.

Shea Weber put his team up 2-0 just moments later on yet another broken play in the Sharks zone. While staring at an open net, Weber lifted it up and over a diving Niemi. He apparently learned his lesson when it comes to empty nets. Just last Tuesday, against the Vancouver Canucks, Weber had a chance to score in the third period but failed to get the puck airborne. An out-stretched Roberto Luongo managed to get his glove on it.

The Sharks were able to pull within one on Patrick Marleau‘s 26th of the season but Nashville would answer before the first period came to a close.

Before the first 20:00 ticked off the clock, Kevin Klein was able to one-time a Roman Josi pass off Niemi’s pads and into the net for the 3-1 lead. Patric Hornqvist was wreaking havoc in front of the San Jose net and, while he didn’t get an assist for his troubles, he was instrumental in the score.

After stopping just four stops on seven Nashville shots, Niemi’s night came to an end. Head Coach Todd McLellan opted for Thomas Greiss‘ services the rest of the way.

“Sometimes he’s the victim of circumstance,” McLellan said. “I didn’t think he was as sharp as he’s been and we had to do something to shake it up.”

Just seconds into the middle frame, Joe Pavelski potted his 23rd of the year, and San Jose’s second of the game, when he found some open ice in the far faceoff circle and wristed one past Rinne.

Weber would score again, this time on the power play, to make it 4-2 midway through the period. With the goal, Weber took the league lead in power play goals by a defenseman (9) and tied Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson in goals by a defenseman (14). Legwand fed a cross-ice pass to Suter who then fired it back to Legwand. This opened up the shooting lane for Weber who blasted it past Greiss for the score.

Erat would finish off his “David Legwand hat trick” when he slid home an empty net goal with 2:00 remaining in the contest.

“It’s a great feeling,” Erat said. “To have a kid and then get two points, it’s a very exciting time for me.”

“He’s really excited,” Head Coach Barry Trotz said. “I’m happy for him and his wife. He was playing on adrenaline, I’m sure. He didn’t get a lot of sleep yesterday.”

Nick Spaling would add to the bleeding when he found the back of the net in the final minute. Spaling became the 10th Predator to score 10 goals this season, tied with the Detroit Red Wings and Philadelphia Flyers for a league high.

“We played hard into the third period,” McLellan said. “We gave up the empty netter and I’m disappointed that the line goes out and gives up the sixth (goal). That’s unacceptable.

“If we’re going to give up four or five a night and think we’re winning, we’re dreaming.”

Nashville will finish off their homestand against the Los Angeles Kings on Monday. Monday also happens to be the NHL trade deadline. Will the Predators roster look the same as it does now? Better be there Monday to find out.

Puck drops, per usual, at 7:00pm Central.

ALL QUOTES courtesy of the Nashville Predators media relations staff.

PHOTO CREDIT: Jeremy K. Gover //