Spaling Gets First Tally of Year in Preds First Home Win

Nick Spaling scored the game-winning goal in Nashville's 5-3 win over the Lightning at the Bridgestone Arena.

Nick Spaling scored the game winning goal, his first tally of the season, and was named third star of the game in Nashville's 5-3 win over Tampa Bay. (Sarah Fuqua)

Before Thursday night’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Bridgestone Arena, Nick Spaling’s only point was a second assist on a David Legwand empty netter in St. Louis.

At 11:20 of the second period, however, Spaling beat Lightning goaltender Mathieu Garon for his first marker of the 2011-12 season.

“It’s nice to get the first one,” Spaling said. “It was an ugly one and that just squeezed in.”

The goal, assisted by Jack Hillen and Jonathon Blum, was the first that Spaling had scored since burying the game winner against Anaheim in Game 6 of the last season’s Western Conference Quarterfinal. It was also his first regular season goal since March 24, which was also against Anaheim.

“Hillen got on the point and I saw him look at me,” Spaling said. “He made a great play. He got some pressure and threw it to the net. He threw it at me which was a great play by him. It took a lucky bounce off of me and stayed in my feet. I was able to slide it in. It just barely made it over, but it counts.”

Spaling, who has scored every one of his 9 career goals at Bridgestone Arena, provides most of his offense in a physical manner.

“I just try to be around the net,” Spaling said. “Sometimes that’s the way you’ve got to get them.”

The Predators held on to win their first home game of the season by a score of 5-3 over the Lightning. A late goal by Tampa Bay meant that Spaling’s goal, Nashville’s fourth of the night, was the game winner. Tacked on with an assist on a Mike Fisher goal, Spaling was named the night’s third star.

“That was big for us and the fans,” Spaling said. They’ve been here supporting us the whole time. It was about time we could get a win for them. We want to keep going here. We’ve got another one Saturday (against Anaheim) and we’re looking forward to that.”

Nashville’s win was their first in the building since that game 6 win against Anaheim. Including playoffs, the losing streak had reached 6 games before it was snapped Thursday night.

“No matter when you’re losing it’s frustrating,” Spaling said. “Especially in your home building it’s frustrating to lose one or two in a row. That was a big win. We needed to get that one. Now we just have to keep going and we’ve got to focus on Saturday.”

Including his goal and assist on Thursday, Spaling has now scored in all three career games that he has played against Tampa Bay. In addition, the Predators are now 8-0 (including playoffs) in games in which Spaling scores a goal.

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A native of Franklin, Tennessee, Patten Fuqua is the managing editor of PuckScene.com. He earned a Bachelor’s of Science from Belmont University in Journalism and Broadcasting.