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Nystrom leads Preds to a point with his fists

He would have preferred two points but the shootout has been the Achilles heel for the Nashville Predators this season. Eric Nystrom did, however, lead his team to one point in the standings thanks to his second period fight against Colin Greening.

In front of another sold out crowd at Bridgestone Arena, the Ottawa Senators beat the Preds 2-1 in the shootout.

Rookie goalie Marek Mazanec got another start and responded with a 20-save effort in the loss. His counterpart at the other end of the ice, Craig Anderson had a stellar night, making 32 stops.

“In the third period I felt we were the better team,” Head Coach Barry Trotz said. “Anderson’s been really strong for them. He stole a point for them tonight.”

Despite solid scoring chances — including a failed penalty shot attempt by Viktor Stalberg — the opening frame finished scoreless. In the second period, however, things opened up.

Ottawa was the first to strike. Mattias Ekholm coughed up the puck on a bad turnover behind his own net and, with Mazanec focused on the side Ekholm was supposed to emerge from, Kyle Turris snapped into the back of the net for the 1-0 lead.

“If he could do it again, he probably should have just wheeled it around the net or done a late-reverse,” Trotz said about Ekholm’s gaffe. “The guy just had good stick position. He tried to reverse it and it ramped up the stick and into the slot there where Turris was sitting.”

The turning point came late in the period when Nystrom dropped the gloves at center ice with Colin Greening.

“The team needed a spark, I needed a spark and the building needed a spark,” Nystrom said. “I haven’t been playing that well so I had a lot of built up anger. Sometimes that can help the momentum of a game and give the building some life.”

“It engaged us and it engaged the crowd,” Trotz said about the scrap. “It was one of those moments where they were feeling comfortable in our building and [Eric] said ‘that’s enough.’ That’s why he’s one of those intangible guys you love.”

Moments later, Seth Jones found Ryan Ellis at the opposite point and Ellis fired a shot that was deflected to Mike Fisher. The former Senator picked up the loose change and snapped it home for the tying goal.

With Sens defenseman Marc Mathot in the box for holding the stick, Nashville finished the extra session on the man advantage but couldn’t cash in despite tons of chances.

The Predators haven’t won in the shootout since February 2 of last season. That’s a lot of points they’re leaving on the table in an uber-competitive Western Conference playoff race.

“We’ve only scored one goal in 20-something shots this year,” Trotz said about the shootout. “That’s not good enough, doesn’t matter who’s in net. We’ve got to score goals in the shootout.”

Ryan Suter and the Minnesota Wild are next up for Nashville. Puck drops at 6:00pm Central tomorrow night.


MY THREE STARS (as voted on with 5:45 remaining in regulation):
1. Mike Fisher (NSH)
2. Kyle Turris (OTT)
3. Craig Anderson (OTT)

1. Craig Anderson (OTT)
2. Jason Spezza (OTT)
3. Mike Fisher (NSH)