It didn’t take long for the Nashville Predators to take advantage. Good thing too.
Man for man, their offense does not measure up to the majority of the NHL’s other 29 teams. Nashville is last in the Western Conference and 27th overall in five-on-five goals.
Best, therefore, to seize those rare opportunities when the opposition is a man – or better yet – two men short.
One such moment arose Thursday with 1:08 to play in the first period. Two Dallas Stars went to the penalty box seven seconds apart and presented the Predators, trailing 1-0, a chance to get even. Patric Hornqvist scored 10 seconds later, David Legwand added another 28 seconds after that, while the Stars still were one man short, and Nashville ultimately won 3-1.
“We obviously had one in there within  seconds and that was a game changer,” Legwand said. “It is a game changer for our team. Executing the five-on-three is big.”
Hornqvist’s goal made Nashville the second Western Conference team and the sixth overall to convert three times in 5-on-3 situations this season. Winnipeg, Columbus, Detroit, Ottawa and the New York Rangers are tied with Nashville for the league lead in that regard.
It also put the Predators on pace for their best season in that regard since 2005-06, the first season under expanded obstruction rules when penalties were called much more frequently than they are now.
PREDATORS 5-ON-3 GOALS
2013-14: 3 in 32 games
2012-13: 1 in 48 games
2011-12: 4 in 82 games
2010-11: 4 in 82 games
2009-10: 6 in 82 games
2008-09: 6 in 82 games
2007-08: 2 in 82 games
2006-07: 7 in 82 games
2005-06: 15 in 82 games
“You look at our record when we score a power play goal and it’s pretty good,” coach Barry Trotz said. “In the last six or seven, it’s been kind of dry in terms of goal production, but that was a real big turning point for us [Thursday] and gives us a lot of confidence at home. We’ve been working on the power play and calling out the power play as they had to make the difference. … We thought it was executed quite well.”