With an extended break between contests, the Nashville Predators have been forced to sit by and watch the teams surrounding them do battle.
Last night, all of the teams adjacent to the Predators in the Western Conference standings were in action. With the Vancouver Canucks 3-1 loss to the Boston Bruins, Nashville is now four points back of the final wild card spot and has a game in hand.
A win over the Minnesota Wild on Thursday puts Nashville two points back of the final playoff spot. Quite a bit of ground made up for the Predators over the last two months.
Winnipeg Jets (28-5-5) at Carolina Hurricanes (25-21-9):
Tied with Nashville in points going into the night, the Jets used a goal with 1:03 left in regulation to break a tie and defeat the Hurricanes. The game-winning tally belonged to forward Chris Thorburn who scored just his second goal of the season. Ondrej Pavalec made 28 saves, including a few in the final minute to preserve the two points. Jets win 2-1. Winnipeg now has 61 points (two more than Nashville, Preds have a game in hand).
Vancouver Canucks (27-22-9) at Boston Bruins (36-16-3):
The door to the postseason has at least been cracked open for Nashville predominately due to the Canucks faltering over the past few weeks. Winners of only three games in their last 10, Vancouver fell again last night. The Bruins prevailed 3-1 over the Canucks, in a rematch of the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals. A two-point night for forward Jarome Iginla, including the game-winner in the second period, was enough offense for the Bruins. Bruins win 3-1. Vancouver remains at 63 points (four more than Nashville, Preds have a game in hand).
Tampa Bay Lightning (32-19-5 ) at Minnesota Wild (30-21-7 ):
The Minnesota Wild (Nashville’s next opponent on the schedule) halted a two-game losing streak and added to their lead in the West’s first wild card slot on Tuesday night. Wild forward Dany Heatley’s goal just 34 seconds into the third period gave Minnesota a crucial two-goal lead. Rookie goalie Dary Kemper was beaten for a goal later in the period, but that was the only time he allowed the Lightning to score. The netminder made 34 saves for the Minnesota victory. Wild win 2-1. Minnesota climbs to 67 points (eight more than Nashville, Preds have a game in hand).
Nashville travels to Minnesota tomorrow afternoon in preparation for their contest with the Wild on Thursday night.
UPDATE: The Dallas Stars defeat the Phoenix Coyotes 3-1, in one of the late games on Tuesday night. The Coyotes stand at 62 points and the Stars rise to 61.