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Matt Cullen nets first goal as a Predator

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Oct 17, 2013


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Matt Cullen was signed away from the Minnesota Wild at the beginning of free agency over the summer in an attempt to boost the Predators paucity of scoring. Through the first six games of the season, however, the veteran center had only managed a pair of assists.

At 10:33 of the first period on Thursday night, however, Cullen finally found the back of the net.

“The last few games, we’ve been generating a few more opportunities and getting close,” Cullen said. “It felt like it was about time for something to go in here and it was nice to see it go in.”

With Nashville and the Los Angeles Kings netted in a scoreless tie at the beginning of Thursday’s contest at Bridgestone Arena, Nashville gained possession of the puck in the Kings’ zone. All three forwards on the ice – Gabriel Bourque, Craig Smith and Cullen – managed to get a shot on goaltender Jonathan Quick in very quick succession. Cullen’s shot slipped by, giving the Predators the early lead and giving Cullen his first goal in a Predators uniform.

“We are continuing to work together and talk a lot on the ice,” Cullen said. “I think we’ve got some guys with some good speed and creativity that are making things happen.”

While Cullen’s goal ended up being Nashville’s lone score, as they suffered a 2-1 shootout loss, the line of Cullen, Bourque and Smith seemed to work very well together. Between the three of them, they generated 4 shots and attempted 7 more.

“If they are moving the puck, it’s a big advantage for them because they can use their speed,” Trotz said. “They’re using their legs. It’s really important for that line to be checking well, moving the puck well and shooting it.”

Including last season’s playoffs, Cullen had not scored a goal in his last 20 games. His last goal came with the Minnesota Wild, also against the Kings and Quick. In that span, he had put 37 shots on goal without lighting the lamp.

“It’s been a little bit (of a weight),” Cullen said. “You always want to contribute and they haven’t been coming easy.”

“I was skating around with him in morning skate and I said, ‘Your line has been playing really well. You’re doing lots of good things, just don’t change,'” Trotz said. “When things aren’t going your way, the first thing you want to do is change.”