Nashville Predators Close Out Preseason With Ryan Johansen Game-Winner

(Photo by John McCreary/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
(Photo by John McCreary/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

Remarkably for a second-straight year, Ryan Johansen scored the game-winning goal to close out the Nashville Predators’ preseason.

You can’t write a script for the preseason any better than the way Johansen did it for the Nashville Predators. Almost four minutes into overtime, he put in a wrist shot and casually exited the ice. He did the same thing to close out last year’s preseason against the Carolina Hurricanes.

With the 2-1 win, the Predators complete the preseason campaign with a 5-1 record, including a perfect record at home. The finale didn’t have a ton of excitement up until the final goal from Johansen.

Players who didn’t play in this final preseason game included Filip Forsberg, Viktor Arvidsson and Pekka Rinne. This game was likely more about making final roster decisions and building more chemistry for newcomers like Matt Duchene. The Predators now have to trim their roster to 23 players before hitting the ice for their regular season opener against the Minnesota Wild this upcoming Thursday.

Who stood out

Of course we have to start with Johansen. It was somewhat surprising to see him in this game, but he certainly made the most of it. He’s coming off a career-high season in assists with 50 and leading the team with 64 points. After this game, he looks primed and ready to go to follow up that with another productive season.

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Juuse Saros was once again impressive in net. He continued his solid preseason with another gem, stopping 30 of 31 shots. He gave up just three goals over his three preseason appearances. A big storyline going into the regular season is how the starts will be split between Saros and Rinne.

Matt Duchene played in his third-straight preseason game in a game that didn’t feature a lot of excitement offensively. He managed just one shot on goal in nearly 20 minutes of ice time and almost five minute of power play time. You still have to like what we’ve seen from him this preseason.

The other goal was scored by 22-year-old center Anthony Richard. He got a lot of valuable playing time in this one. He’s a former fourth-round pick by Nashville in 2015, and just had a 40-point season with the Milwaukee in the AHL this past season. He has already been reassigned back to Milwaukee following this solid outing:

Some roster decisions to make

With the preseason concluded, now it’s time to make some final roster decisions. The main focal point may be focused on the bottom defensive pairing. We know the top four defenseman will be Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, Mattias Ekholm and Dante Fabbro. The Predators have a few other players to sort out for the final pairing.

Some of these players competing for these roster spots played in this game, including veteran Matt Irwin, Steven Santini and Jeremy Davies. Davies and Santini came over via the blockbuster P.K. Subban trade to the New Jersey Devils over the offseason. Not sure that the decision got any easier from this game in particular, so it will be interesting to see who likely joins Dan Hamhuis on the bottom defensive pairing to open the regular season.

Defenseman Jarred Tinordi had a productive preseason, but he has been waived. Joining him is Frederick Gaudreau, who has been with the Predators for three seasons:

Eeli Tolvanen and Rem Pitlick also played in this game after being recalled from Milwaukee. They were basically brought back up to field a full roster for the game, and keep players locked into the roster 100 percent refreshed before the regular season opener. Pitlick and Tolvanen were both held without a point in this one.

Next time we will see the Nashville Predators the games will count in the standings. The Predators open up the 2019-20 regular season with four-straight home games. After opening with Minnesota, they’ll play the Detroit Red Wings, San Jose Sharks and the Washington Capitals. The Minnesota and San Jose games will be nationally televised on NBC Sports Network.