NASHVILLE, Tenn. - David Legwand is a natural centre, but has made the most of his move to the left side.
Legwand scored the first and last goals of the game for the Nashville Predators on Saturday night in a 4-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. He has three goals in the two games since making the shift, both wins.
It was the second loss in a row for the Blackhawks, who will take on the Central Division-rival Predators at home on Sunday.
"We need to string some wins together," Legwand said. "Our goal is to get back in the race."
Legwand, on the left wing, got control of the puck off a pass from Jason Arnott as the new left wing skated low through the slot. He sent a shot over the glove of goalie Cristobal Huet at 10:41 of the first period.
"We have been trying to get to the net the last couple of games, and the shots have been going in for us," Legwand said. "It is going to help us win hockey games.
"Playing with Arnott and Martin Erat, who have been in the league for a while, helps out. We have done a good job of reading off of each other and reading the plays. It is a matter of reading and reacting out there. That's when most things are going to happen."
Predators coach Barry Trotz, never one to be shy about changing his lines, believes Legwand, Arnott and Erat have quickly formed chemistry.
"The whole line has accepted a lot of responsibility," he said. "Legwand has a lot of speed. Arnott and Erat can shoot the puck when they want to shoot.
"It has probably simplified Legwand's game. He is just worried about taking care of getting pucks out, going on the forecheck and getting on offence. We've never held him back in terms of his offence, but he has always been reliable defensively. He is getting to express himself in different ways now."
The Predators added their second goal in the second period on the power play at 16:46. Shea Weber fired a slap shot from a few feet inside the blue line that beat Huet to his glove side.
Adam Burish scored the Blackhawks' lone goal at 6:11 of the third period when he snapped a wrist shot from close range to rookie goalie Pekka Rinne's glove side.
Radek Bonk answered at 12:03 of the third when he skated through the right circle and beat Huet with a wrist shot over his left shoulder.
Legwand closed out the scoring with an empty-net goal with 39 seconds left.
The Predators have scored nine goals in two games. Trotz stressed that is the result of consistently doing the right things at the right time.
"The goals are coming from playing the game the right way offensively and defensively," Trotz said. "We are getting goals because we are forechecking well and creating turnovers. We are getting goals because we are going to the net hard. We are making good decisions and shooting the puck. Those are all of the things we have been practising and preaching."
Steve Sullivan returned to the ice in a game for the first time since Feb. 22, 2007, an absence of 153 games caused by a back injury that required two operations. He played a regular shift on a line with Vernon Fiddler and Jordin Tootoo, and saw time on the Predators' second power-play unit.
Sullivan was given a standing ovation when he made his first appearance 1:30 into the game to shouts of "Sully, Sully, Sully."
"I was thrilled with the ovation," he said. "These are probably the best fans in the world. For them to wait for me and show me the respect they did was awesome."
Sullivan was on the ice for 20 shifts, a total of 12:30, including 2:34 on the power play. He attempted three shots. Trotz tried to give him long rest periods between shifts.
"My timing wasn't great, but I tried not to put myself into positions where I had to over exert myself or would have to backtrack or backcheck," Sullivan said. "Playing with Fiddler and Tootoo to start the game was perfect for me. Those guys are such hard workers and love to dig pucks out of the corner. I just tried to get open for them and let them try to feed me the puck."
Chicago coach Joel Quenneville will be looking for a different start from his team in Sunday's rematch.
"We have to do way better than we were," he said. "Starts are important. We have had two ordinary, below-average starts the last two games. We can't win hockey games like that."
Notes: Eight of Legwand's nine goals have been scored at home. ... Erat has four points (one goal, three assists) in his last four games. ... Arnott left the game with a lower body injury and did not return. He is doubtful for Sunday's game at Chicago, but the injury is not expected to be long term. ... Burish scored his second goal in three games. He also has two assists during that stretch