Prior to Saturday night’s game against Detroit, Nashville’s Patric Hornqvist had played in 248 NHL games and had scored 73 career goals. Of those 73 goals, 16 had come against Central Division opponents – 8 against Columbus and 4 each against St. Louis and Chicago.
However, in 17 career games played against them, Hornqvist had never scored a goal against the Detroit Red Wings.
At 7:30 of the first period at Bridgestone Arena, that changed as David Legwand and Hornqvist had a two-on-one rush in the Red Wings’ zone. A pass by Legwand to Hornqvist created a chance that netminder Joey MacDonald had no shot of stopping.
Just like that, Patric Hornqvist had now scored against every team in the Central Division.
“I didn’t really think about it,” Hornqvist said, “but it’s nice to finally score against those guys. It was nice to get it out of the way.”
A native of Sollentuna, Sweden, Hornqvist had seen the Red Wings play many times growing up. With Nicklas Lidstrom and Tomas Holmstrom on Detroit’s roster for their last four Stanley Cup titles, if Swedish television stations were not showing the Peter Forsberg and the Colorado Avalanche, they were showing a Red Wings game.
Thus, for Hornqvist, being able to solve the Red Wings for the first time had a little extra meaning.
“They’ve been on top of the league for the past 20 years, so I’ve watched them a lot,” Hornqvist said. “They have a lot of Swedish players, too, so that’s probably why they were always on TV back home. They didn’t send us too many NHL games back in the day, but when they did, it was almost always the Red Wings or Colorado.”
Hornqvist’s goal only managed to put the Predators ahead for the next 13 seconds, as Detroit’s Drew Miller almost immediately answered back with a tying goal. However, Nashville’s power play kicked into gear and let the Predators walk away with a 3-2 regulation win.
With the victory, Nashville closes to within 4 points of the Red Wings for second place in the division. The Predators, who have never finished ahead of Detroit, currently have a game in hand.
As Hornqvist points out – and as Barry Trotz has pointed out in the past – the Predators are in a different sort of position than in the past few seasons. Instead of looking behind them in the standings to make sure they do not fall out of playoff contention, Nashville is trying to move up in the division.
“Right now, we’re chasing the Red Wings,” Hornqvist said. “It was a four-point game, we’re getting close here towards the end. We’ll take those points and hopefully keep moving up the ladder.”