If you’ve been watching the Nashville Predators this season, last night was the night you’ve been waiting for. The much maligned offense took its first multi-goal lead in a game since January 16th (which was also against the Columbus Blue Jackets), and though they waivered a bit, they played what felt like the most complete game of the season.
Let’s break down what felt like a much-needed mood-boosting win.
Strike While the Iron(hook)’s Hot
Calle Jarnkrok, affectionately known as “Ironhook” (loose translation of Jarnkrok), had himself a game in a big way.
You knew it was going to be a good night when the power play was converted, and Jarnkrok opened the night by burying a rebound to give the Nashville Predators a 1-0 lead.
After the Blue Jackets managed to tie the game up, 2-2, the Predators opened up the 3rd period in a big way, with a goal from (as Twitter would refer to him) “notable sniper” Jarnkrok again.
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The only thing that stopped old Ironhook from getting the hat trick was a pesky goal post.
Jarnkrok has quietly been playing hard in spite of the team’s struggles, and to see him finally get his is awesome. To see him do it in the third period when the team needed to answer for a questionable second period? Even better.
Jarnkrok wasn’t the only one to play a solid game for the Nashville Predators.
Colton Sissons also contributed to the offensive output, helping to give the team their first multi-goal lead in more than a month. He was able to get the tip in from a feed from Luke Kunin, and a Yak attack from Yakov Trenin.
Not to be outdone by the output of Jarnkrok and Sissons, Filbruary continued with a beautiful goal from #Stacheburg himself, Filip Forsberg.
He may not be a fan of the term (Filbruary), and you have to respect that he wants to be known as a season-long contributor, but his nine points in the month are something to behold.
Through February, Forsberg is a point-per-game player, and for an offense that has been lacking, seeing his output has been a bright spot in a tough season.
We’ve said it all season long: put pucks towards the net, and eventually, good things happen.
Through the first period, the Nashville Predators lead 16-6 in SOG. In the second, that lead grew to 33-16. They ended the night with a SOG lead of 45-23. If the offense can show up consistently like they did tonight, they can get hot.
Even more telling regarding the offensive outburst, the Predators had 78 total shot attempts to Columbus’ 38 shots attempts. That really illustrates the offensive aggressiveness, and that whatever adjustments they made really worked.
New Kid on the Block, and the Kids are Alright
While he isn’t exactly an NHL newcomer with 103 games to his name, Ben Harpur replaced Jarred Tinordi on the second defensive pairing alongside Dante Fabbro for his first game as a Nashville Predator, and he looked good doing it.
Harpur played fast, created some offensive opportunities, made some smart plays, and looked like he belonged on that second pairing.
In the past, the argument has been that Tinordi’s speed and dexterity limits his capability, and Harpur seems to have the opposite of that problem.
While still needing to refine his game a bit, it would not be a surprise to see Harpur get some more opportunities alongside Fabbro, at least until Mattias Ekholm returns. If we get more efforts like we did in this game, he should be earning some additional playing time.
In the meantime, Eeli Tolvanen looks like a permanent fixture in the forward lineup. While he’s only produced one point in the month of February, he’s doing a lot of other things that don’t necessarily show up in the stat box, and he’s getting better and better with each opportunity he gets.
Tolvanen is fast, can create opportunities, maintain and prolong possessions in the offensive zone, and he’s got a very dangerous shot with an absolutely beautiful release. Expect to see him start lighting up the lamp and showing up in the box score very soon.
What Comes Next for the Nashville Predators
The Predators will follow up the 4-2 win against the Blue Jackets by continuing their road trip, and will face off against the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night and Thursday night.
Since beating the Predators 4-2 a week ago, the Red Wings have gone 1-3 against the Blackhawks and Panthers.
Expect the Predators to look to exact some revenge for the loss to the Red Wings in Bridgestone Arena last Saturday.
The key to the next series will be to maintain the offensive output, play smart and smothering defense like it did in the third period of tonight’s win, and not overlook a team that has struggled, but is still very capable and opportunistic.