Struggling to score goals during a five-game home stand where they went 1-4, the Nashville Predators lit the lamp three times in the second period of last night’s road game against the Ottawa Senators. The trifecta of goals in 20 minutes was the same number of tallies the team had registered in their previous four games combined.
While the offense’s arrival was a welcome sight, Nashville’s defense could be termed “lax” for the first time in several games. The Senators answered the Predators second period with three goals of their own in the third, sending the game to overtime and leaving the Predators questioning if another heart-breaking loss was on the way.
All was not lost, however. Overtime heroics by Predators forward Colin Wilson and defenseman Seth Jones, who has scored four of his six goals north of the border this season, saved the win and two points for Nashville.
There’s little time to celebrate the extra time win, though, as the Predators will return to action tonight in Buffalo against the Sabres (6 p.m. CST).
Quick thoughts on the back-to-back set of games:
- Luck finally turning: After all the close calls and missed chances on the Predators home stand, Jones said it felt like the team had hit 10 or more posts in the four losses. Obviously frustrated with the futility on offense, some of Nashville’s forwards were ready to lament the lack of luck for the club. Last night, however, the Predators third goal must be–at least partially–described as fortuitous. Nashville defenseman Mattias Ekholm’s defensive zone clearance was deflected by a Senators forward right as the puck left Ekholm’s stick; but instead of being knocked down, the puck traveled over a hundred feet and deflected off the Senators Marc Methot before an open Eric Nystrom rifled it into the net. Do more of the bounces go Nashville’s way again tonight? Maybe there’s reason to hope they will.
- Road, sweet road: Winless in their last four at home, the Predators have now picked up points in their last four contests away from Bridgestone Arena. Nashville has two more games on the road this week before returning home to face the St. Louis Blues on Saturday. Traditionally a force to be reckoned with in Music City, Nashville is finding success in an unusual place. Weeks ago, when the Predators postseason hopes were brighter than they are today, the two late season games against the NHL’s last-placed squad, the Buffalo Sabres, were circled as a prime opportunity to pick up four points. While the message may have changed since Nashville’s four-game losing streak last week, the Sabres still remain a team in the middle of a major rebuild and it would behoove the Predators to claim two wins.
- Better than you think: Despite the spotlight being on what the Sabres “can’t” do this season, the NHL’s bottom dweller has a better record over the last 10 games than the Predators. Buffalo had an impressive stretch at the end of February where the club won three-straight games, two of them over the Boston Bruins and the San Jose Sharks. More recently, the club held the NHL’s top offense to two goals in a 2-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday. Jhonas Enroth starts in goal tonight for Buffalo and the Sabres may be in position to steal a win from a tired Predators team.
Carter Hutton will get the start between the pipes for Nashville tonight in the second half of two games in two nights.