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Trotz thinks Jets-Preds rivalry will grow

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Nashville Predators head coach Barry Trotz (top).

ROSS D. FRANKLIN / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ARCHIVES Enlarge Image

Nashville Predators head coach Barry Trotz (top).

Barry Trotz pretty much made one guarantee after his Nashville Predators skated to a 3-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets in the MTS Centre on Sunday night.

You’re not likely to need a good book — it would have come in handy on Sunday — the next time the teams play here in early November.

"I think that’ll grow," the Nashville head coach said, asked when the last time his team played such an emotion-free divisional game. "You can say it’s a division game and it is but we don’t have any history yet. If we play Detroit, we have more history... it will grow because we’re going to butt heads and this team (the Jets) has got some really good, dynamic players and they’re well-coached. And they’ve got a passionate city behind them.

"We’re going to bump heads, I can guarantee you that. There’s going to be some head-bumping before it’s done. It’s Game 1. It’ll come as we start playing some rivalry games. We don’t have a rivalry yet.

"Maybe both make the playoffs, we’ll meet and then it’ll be on and you’ll never ask that question again."

It was Nashville’s second straight night with a road win. Saturday, the Preds dispatched Montreal with a late goal, travelled to Winnipeg and took two more points to be 5-1-1 since dropping their first two of the season.

Trotz didn’t make much of a secret he thought his team didn’t even play its best.

"I don’t know if it was low-emotion," he said Sunday. "We’re a pretty physical team. I thought we weren’t very physical today. We’ll get back to that.

"We didn’t finish on people the way we usually do. We’re a lot harder than we were today."

Winnipegger Colin Wilson, who had one assist in the visitors’ road win, said his team held up its end of the emotion in the game.

"I don’t know," he started. "I felt like we were in it. I don’t know if I can say it was emotionless or anything like that. I think our team was in it. I wasn’t on their bench. I think we did a good job."

Just a smart road-game approach, limiting mistakes, was key, Wilson said.

"The guys were a little tired but a lot of guys have played in the league a while," he said. "We just kept getting the puck in and got some good bounces."

Free agent signing Matt Cullen, who scored the 3-0 goal in the second period, thought the Preds just kept right on playing hard, now that they’ve caught their stride early in the season.

"Tough travel, tough back-to-back, but it’s a big two-game stretch for this team to come out and get a big win tonight and last night," Cullen said. "We’re playing pretty well right now, getting some good goaltending and playing some pretty good hockey. We’re wearing teams down. We’ve got four lines that can skate."

That goaltending included the first NHL win for Thunder Bay native Carter Hutton, in his first start of the season.

"Real special for our group to get him a win," said Trotz, who normally has the luxury of throwing Pekka Rinne at opponents most nights. "There’s nothing like winning on the road. It’s hard to win on the road in this league.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

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