Perhaps one of the most impressive wins of the season for the Nashville Predators as they put up eight goals on a top-tier NHL defense.
Throw away whatever pregame notes you may have had for this game, because no one expected the Nashville Predators to erupt for eight goals against the New York Islanders’ stingy defense.
This is even more true considering the Islanders at one point were asserting their will and had all of the momentum up 3-1. At that point it looked like the Predators were depleted of energy and were about to let the game get away from them.
Whatever is working for the Predators over the last two games in New York City, they need to bottle it up and take it with them. It hasn’t always been pretty over the last two games, but their grinding away and being opportunistic with their scoring chances.
Craig Smith awakens
We’ve been waiting for a while to see Craig Smith erupt offensively. He’s been held in check all season and hadn’t scored a goal in over a month heading into this one. A puzzling goal drought from a player that usually scores 20-plus.
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Smith would get the scoring started after receiving a great pass from Nick Bonino and burying the wrist shot. He was skating alone in the slot and tallies his 3rd goal of the season.
Believe it or not, there would be no more scoring in the first period. The Islanders had their chances with 12 shots on goal and four high-danger chances. Pekka Rinne would make all 12 saves.
This was a big period for the Predators even though they only scored one of their eventual eight goals. They struck first and held the Islanders scoreless despite having some quality opportunities. They avoid falling into comeback mode too early in the game and having to deplete even more energy.
Insane 2nd period
Let’s preface this by telling you there were seven goals scored in this period between the two teams. And the momentum swung from one end to the other in crazy fashion, and eventually towards the Predators. But they looked in danger of losing control of the game at one point.
The Islanders would keep sustaining pressure in the Nashville zone and score three unanswered goals. One came on the power play and the other shorthanded. Rinne looked out of sorts once again, and the Predators looked gassed.
Then the unthinkable happens. Filip Forsberg quickly gets one back for the Predators while still on the power play after giving up the shorthanded goal. Huge response to erase the shorthanded goal given up. The Predators were still trailing, but this goal was critical to not letting this game slip away.
The Predators take full control of the game after this. Just two minutes after Forsberg’s power play goal, Smith gets his second goal of the game to tie it up. This comes as a product of another beautiful feed, this time from Kyle Turris, to Smith while he’s in prime position to score in front of the net.
Nick Bonino and would score on a tip-in from a Mattias Ekholm blast, and Rocco Grimaldi would round out the 2nd period scoring. After all of this, the Predators were up 5-3 heading into the 2nd intermission. Such a wild turn of events against a team that gives up just 2.3 goals per game.
The Predators would add three more goals in the final period with scores from Calle Jarnkrok, Roman Josi and Ryan Johansen. A complete offensive showing from up and down the roster, as this incredible stat from NHL Stats and Predators PR:
Most impressive win of the season?
There are some good candidates to argue, like the October win over the Capitals or the two-game sweep over the Blues to end the six-game losing streak. You can bring up the shutout win over the Blackhawks in late-October as well, but that came against an inferior opponent.
This win over the Islanders is the most impressive for many reasons. It was a full team effort, they stole back momentum after losing it, scored eight goals against a top-tier defense and did all of this on the second night of a back-to-back. All of this against a team that’s near the top of the Eastern Conference standings.
This was also the highest goal total in a game for the Predators since November 18th, 2014 against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The eight-goal eruption pushed the Predators up to 4th in the league in goals per game at 3.45, and pushed the Islanders back to 4th place in goals allowed per game at 2.5.
Bonino has the team lead in goals again with 13, while Forsberg and Jarnkrok each have 12 goals. Roman Josi now has 30 points on the season, which leads the team. Rinne gets his 11th win of the season and has his goals against average back under 3.
I’ve been saying that December will reveal who the Predators really are. Are they the team we saw in November that will come up way short of preseason expectations, or are they the team we thought they were that can give us another deep playoff run?
The Predators have played fewer games than every team in the division except for Colorado, so they have the chance to make up some ground. They’re just five points from a wildcard spot and a top-three spot in the division.
Up next is the Ottawa Senators as the Predators continue their four-game road trip. They come home quickly to play Taylor Hall and the Arizona Coyotes before having a back-to-back against the Pittsburgh Penguins to close out the month of December.