Thrilling comeback wins are starting to become the norm for the Nashville Predators as they accomplish the unthinkable in Vancouver.
You keep saying the Nashville Predators can’t keep falling behind and digging themselves deep. It happened again, this time against the Vancouver Canucks. A team with some young talent, but in rebuilding mode.
The Predators trotted out an odd lineup thanks to regular starters Roman Josi, Craig Smith, Scott Hartnell and Yannick Weber sitting out for what I assume is rest. Throw in the return of Mike Fisher, and you have some chemistry to work out. A shaky start, which is becoming a regular occurrence, is expected on the second game of a back-to-back.
Entering Friday night’s action, the Predators were sitting comfortably six points ahead of Winnipeg in the division, and eyeing down the No.1 seed in the playoffs. Resting key players was understandable from Peter Laviolette‘s point of view.
Another rocky start plagued the Nashville Predators. Both teams had trouble finding decent scoring chances and the high danger areas. It felt the same way at the start in the previous game against Edmonton.
Fast forward to just short of six minutes into the game, and you get your first goal. The Canucks have a top-notch power play, and their goal comes on a tip-in after an Alexei Emelin penalty. You can’t blame Juuse Saros too much for this tricky goal from the point. Props are owed to him for keeping it 1-0 at the first intermission.
The story heading into the game was how Fisher would look out of the gate. I had my doubts, and can say I was wrong. He came out aggressive, won faceoffs and really looked like he never missed a game. A respectable first period from Fisher gets even better.
The Predators start ramping up the pressure in the Vancouver zone. All of the shifted lineups looked to be settling in, and Vancouver goaltender Jacob Markstrom finally had to start making some pressure saves. However, the Predators gave up what was just a beautiful, highly-skilled goal from Brandon Sutter on a backhanded shot. Cue the two-goal comeback talk.
Again, Fisher steals the spotlight for tonight. It’s when the craziness starts. Less than two minutes after the Predators fall behind by two goals, Fisher responds. Like we remember him from his past Predators career, he gets in the dirty areas to find scoring chances. On Viktor Arvidsson‘s shot attempt, Fisher redirects it to score in his first game back. Remarkable stuff. Check out what NHL great Jeremy Roenick said about Fisher’s return:
Playing a team that’s outmatched and out of the playoff picture, you expect the Predators to take control heading into the 2nd intermission only down by a goal.
Ryan Johansen‘s major penalty after spearing a Canucks player put the Predators in a tough spot. Still down 2-1, the team lost a key part of the JoFA line and had to kill a three-minute penalty against a potent Vancouver power play. That’s not before a 4-on-4 sequence due to two other penalties during the Johansen fiasco. This is the play of the game. Kyle Turris beautifully sets up Kevin Fiala for the tying goal. What this did is take some pressure off going into the lengthy penalty kill.
The Canucks did tally another one on the power play, making the Fiala goal all the more critical. It kept the game within reach. With time ticking down, Ryan Ellis gets in on the fun with a rocket from the point to tie it again. Pulling the goalie was coming quickly if Ellis doesn’t score.
In overtime, the Predators surgically set up the game-winning goal. These three-on-three attacks expose teams that lack in skill players. The Predators have plenty of capable players, including Calle Jarnkrok who completes the Predators third-straight comeback from two goals or more.
Chad’s three stars
Third Star: Viktor Arvidsson
He may not have scored, but he was a major factor. Solid on the forecheck and tallied two assists, including the primary assist on Fisher’s goal.
Second Star: Kevin Fiala
Fiala’s 21st goal of the season might get overlooked, but don’t underestimate its importance. If he doesn’t score before the lengthy Vancouver power play, the Predators probably don’t have enough time to complete the comeback.
First Star: Mike Fisher
It seriously looked like he picked up where he left off last season in the Stanley Cup. He ignited the Predators with the first goal of the game and nearly tallied another one later on. His faceoff win percentage of 84.6 caps off a memorable return from retirement. Welcome back, Mike!