Last night in St. Louis, the Nashville Predators rallied from two goals down and ultimately forced overtime in their game against the Blues.
The Blues took the game and the extra point in the shootout, but Nashville’s comeback and point earned from the post-regulation loss are a testament to the team’s recently improved play.
The Predators have gone 6-2-2 in their last 10 games and have clawed their way back into at least the conversation about the postseason.
What has helped the team’s turnaround?
- Carter Hutton: When the Predators lost netminder Pekka Rinne to injury in October, the team flounder to balance overly protecting their rookie goaltenders (who were suddenly forced into the spotlight) and being able to create offensive chances. As a result, the Predators were shutout numerous times and dropped in the standings. But with goalie Carter Hutton’s hot play over the last few weeks, Nashville has benefitted on both sides of the ice and has turned in more winning performances. Hutton is now 6-1-1 in his last eight games and started both contests on consecutive nights for Nashville at the end of last week.
- Offense from Weber-Josi paring: Defensemen Shea Weber and Roman Josi are lighting the lamp at a high rate and shutting down the opposition over Nashville’s recent upswing. Over the last 10 games, Weber has contributed five goals and Josi four, and the duo are also a plus 15 in +/-. The Predators usually like to incorporate their blueliners into the play when they are in the offensive zone, so both Weber and Josi clicking at such a high rate is a very good thing for Nashville.
- Comeback kids: Nashville has overcome some type of deficit to earn at least a point, in five of their last 10 games. Perhaps more importantly, the club has picked up their first two wins of the season when trailing after two periods (January 23rd against Vancouver and January 31st against New Jersey). Being able to rely on Hutton to make tough saves allows Nashville to take chances if they are trailing and continue to stick to their grinding forecheck. Forward Patric Hornqvist said after Nashville’s win over New Jersey that the Predators are sticking to their strong forecheck for a full 60 minutes, confident that they’ll finally earn the payoff no matter the deficit.
The Predators (25-23-9) are four points back of the Vancouver Canucks (27-20-9) for the final wild card spot (the Canucks have played one fewer game).
Nashville has four days off until their next game against the Minnesota Wild (29-21-7) on Thursday. The Wild currently hold the other wild card spot and have a six-point lead over Nashville with an equal number of games played.