James Neal didn’t mind being robbed of a hat trick even though he scored three goals.
The Nashville forward scored the shootout winner and two power-play goals as the Predators defeated the Ottawa Senators 4-3 Saturday night.
“I had a good chance on three-on-three and (Craig) Anderson made a good save,” said Neal. “It’s all right. It felt good to get that goal in the shootout to give our team a win.”
Craig Smith also scored for Nashville (4-1-0). Carter Hutton, making his first start of the season, stopped 38 shots.
Mike Hoffman had a pair of goals for the Senators (3-2-1), while Mark Stone picked up the other. Craig Anderson made 22 saves.
For the first time this season the Senators were not outshot by the opposition.
After a subpar outing in their last game Senators coach Dave Cameron was much happier with Saturday’s performance despite the loss calling it the team’s best overall effort of the season.
“That’s the way it goes over 82 games,” said Cameron. “You’re going to play games where you think you deserve better and I thought we deserved better tonight.”
While the Senators have only played two games at home they remain winless at Canadian Tire Centre. They can only hope to improve their record at home as this was the first of a four-game homestand.
“We got a point, we did a lot of things right that should have enabled us to win the game,” said Anderson. “Some nights you’re going to play like that but not get the result you want.
“At the end of the day, we played well and we can build off that.”
With the game tied 2-2 midway through the third period, Neal scored his second power-play goal of the game in the exact same manner he scored his first in the opening period, beating Anderson short side on a wrap-around attempt to give Nashville a 3-2 lead.
“Josi made a good play to get it down to me,” said Neal. “I think he went for a bit of the poke check on the second one and I think he was anticipating I was going to do it again, but it worked so it was nice to see it go in.”
With time winding down Hoffman scored his second of the night, tying things back up 3-3 with a shot from the blue line.
“The game was there for the taking for each team,” said Hoffman. “At the end of the day it was a shootout loss that could have gone either way.”
The Senators had played a great second until a weak clearing attempt by Patrick Wiercioch allowed the Predators to tie the game 2-2 with just over two minutes remaining in the period.
Nashville's Mike Ribeiro was able to keep the puck in at the blue line and fed Smith for his third of the season.
Ottawa had taken the lead at the 12-minute mark of the second as Hoffman fired a shot from just inside the blue line. Hutton was helpless as the puck deflected off Ryan Ellis' stick.
Stone tied the game 1-1 to the delight of the 16,895 on hand at Canadian Tire Centre 15 seconds into the second period as he took a great pass from Kyle Turris and then went forehand to backhand to beat Hutton.
“This one is definitely a tougher pill to swallow,” said Stone. “I thought we played pretty well. I think if we can play like that every night we’re going to come out on the other end most nights.”
Both teams had a slow start with neither creating any great chances in the opening minutes of the game.
The Predators opened the scoring midway through the period when Neal beat Anderson.