For the first time since November, the Nashville Predators are officially in a playoff spot and in a solid position to keep moving up the standings.
It hasn’t been pretty, but somehow the Nashville Predators are clinging onto life. With 20 games remaining, they’re in a playoff spot.
After last night’s 3-2 win over the rebuilding Ottawa Senators, the Predators moved ahead of the Arizona Coyotes for the final wildcard spot in the Western Conference.
I wouldn’t call this the most glamorous of wins by any standard, but the Predators got the job done thanks to an opportunistic power play and some solid goaltending from Juuse Saros once again.
By the way, Saros is really starting to catch fire at just the right time. It’s his net to lose now and will be the starter in Game 1 of a first round playoff series if the Predators make it.
The Predators stumbled out of the gate a bit against Ottawa, falling behind 1-0 and then 2-1 before finally catching fire and letting the talent overtake the game.
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These two rosters are nowhere near equal to each other as the Senators have smartly sold off a lot of assets already this season and thinking long-term future.
The Predators decided against that approach at the trade deadline and instead decided to forget ahead with the players they have, with the exception of trading Matt Irwin.
I admittedly was a little worried that the Predators would overlook this game against an inferior opponent and let one slip by.
But the power play came alive connecting twice, and Ryan Ellis made a big impact on the game as well.
Ellis was everywhere last night. He scored his first goal since coming back from injury, and it came on the power play to tie the score 2-2.
He also made two key blocked shots, including one on a breakaway attempt by Ottawa, and showed us what we’ve been missing in his absence.
Viktor Arvidsson got the official game-winning goal just a little over four minutes later, and the Predators tightened up defensively to hold the score at 3-2 throughout the final period.
Colin Blackwell had the first goal for the Predators for his 3rd goal of the season. He took a nasty high stick to the face, but ended up returning to the game.
Perhaps one of the biggest games to date of the season comes up next on the schedule as the Calgary Flames come to Nashville.
We all remember the disaster that happened on Halloween night when the Flames made up a three-goal deficit in the final period and went on to win 6-5 in overtime with just two seconds remaining before the shootout.
That was a breaking point for the Predators that sent them into a tailspin that they’re still making up ground for.
Since then the Predators have beaten the Flames 3-2 in Calgary earlier in February.
A win on Thursday night against Calgary will really put the Predators in a strong position in the wildcard race as they have those games in hand, and will have two wins in three matchups with Calgary.
The Predators will finish off February against the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday night in Nashville, and wrap up their five-game homestand on Monday against the Edmonton Oilers.
The Coyotes lost on last night in a busy night in the NHL, and Winnipeg managed just one point in the shootout loss to the Capitals. So the Predators got a little help as well.