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Matt Duchene was tired of talking about it, and the media was tired of asking him about it.

As offensively talented as Duchene had been during his first 11 years in the NHL, for whatever reason, it just wasn’t coming together on the ice for him his first two years in Nashville.

That’s not the case this year. In fact, Duchene has more points (14) through 14 games this year than he did in 34 games last year (13).

Scoring the game-winner in Nashville’s 4-3 overtime win over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday, Duchene recorded his first multi-goal game since May 10, 2020, and his second three-point game of the season.

In his last six games, the 30-year-old forward has six goals, nine points and three game-winning goals. Nobody has more goals and only Toronto’s Mitch Marner has more points (10) than Duchene does since Nov. 2.

“I’ve been asked about the lack of production a million times over the last two years, and I’ve preached over and over that if the habits are there, eventually it’ll go. So, it’s nice to be rewarded,” Duchene said.

“I really haven’t changed anything in terms of my approach or my mentality. I just try to get better and try to shoot more. I’m getting more looks and it feels good. … The big thing for me is, I’m not satisfied at all, and I want to keep going and keep helping this team win. If you score in losses, it doesn’t mean nearly as much as when you score in wins.”

Fourteen games into the 2021 season and Duchene has seemingly experienced an offensive renaissance. He currently leads the Predators with eight goals and his 14 points are second most on the team behind Mikael Granlund, who had a four-assist game on Thursday.

Among league leaders, Duchene is tied for the 10th-most goals and the 16th-most points, and his three game-winning goals are tied for third-most in the NHL, behind only Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl and Toronto’s William Nylander.

He also has the 11th-best shooting percentage (18.6) of any player to appear in 14 or more games.

So, what’s changed from the 2019 and 2020 seasons to now?

“He’s faster this year, much more competitive on the puck, making good decisions, [and] he’s not forcing plays,” Predators coach John Hynes said. “When he’s in scoring areas, he’s catching and releasing or one-timing the puck, whereas last year it was a couple extra stick handles. I just really appreciate the way that he’s playing.”

Duchene’s success this year runs deeper than what shows up on the scoresheet. His shooting percentage is the highest it’s been since 2018. His 43 shots through 14 games put him on pace for a 252-shot season, which would easily top his career-best 217 shots from 2013.

He’s also averaging 19:00 minutes per game — second-most among forwards. It’s the most ice time he’s seen since he’s been with Nashville, and the most he’s played since 2018 with Ottawa. He’s currently on pace to play the third-most single-season minutes of his career.

“There is a big difference in his game,” Hynes added. “He’s very responsible without the puck and I think he’s getting good minutes in those situations and that, in turn, gives you an opportunity to play more. Now when he’s in scoring situations, he’s using his instincts and he’s a very good instinctual offensive player. I certainly think he’s really grown his game and credit to him.”

Follow Michael Gallagher on Twitter @MGsports_

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