The Nashville Predators managed to stay hot Tuesday night in Detroit, fighting it out until the very end to earn a determined 3-2 shootout win.
With the injuries continuing to pile up for the Predators, this matchup even against the last-place Detroit Red Wings seemed like a tall order.
How it unfolded
Things looked somewhat bleak for the Predators in this contest, as they fell behind 1-0 late in the first due to an unlucky bounce off of Mattias Ekholm‘s leg, and could not capitalize on some high-quality chances in the 2nd period.
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Luke Kunin would tie it up early in the 3rd period, but the Red Wings would answer just under ten minutes later, putting the Predators in another hole approaching the end of the game.
However, the Predators would not be deterred, as Mikael Granlund found the back of the net on the power play, tying the game 2-2, which was how regulation would end.
Graunlund is now fourth on the team in goals with nine on the season as trade speculation continues to swirl around him.
Both teams had some good looks in overtime, but the Predators once again could not capitalize on some prime opportunities, and the game would be decided in a shootout.
Johansen’s goal, in particular, was a sight to behold. His classic slow motion move to the net to freeze Thomas Greiss.
O Captain! My Captain!
If there is one player who I can recall was a force the entire night, it was the captain, Roman Josi. He had the puck on his stick in some critical areas and gave the Red Wings defense fits constantly.
Josi generated a huge chance late in the 2nd period, as he beautifully skated into the slot and let go a backhand shot that unfortunately went off the post and out.
Additionally, Josi assisted on both of the goals scored in the 3rd period, one of which was a nice pass from the neutral zone to Luke Kunin, who was set up all alone. Josi is up to 20 assists on the season, which leads the team.
Josi then had another huge chance in overtime, as he once again took the puck into the high-percentage slot area, but this time was robbed by Greiss.
The game-winning goal in the shootout from Josi was merely the cherry on top of what was an excellent night, and continued what has been some excellent hockey from the captain as of late.
Josi has overcome a slow start to the season only to return to playing at an elite level, averaging a point-per-game since coming back from the injury that sidelined him for two weeks. Even dating back to February 23, he is averaging a point per contest, proving that he never truly declined and that this midseason grade I gave him may have been a harsh evaluation.
As still one of the best players in the league at both ends of the ice, Josi showed it once again with this tremendous game from him.
Injuries continue to pile up for the Nashville Predators
It seems as if every game we watch recently, we think the injury situation cannot get any worse. Well, it just got worse.
Dante Fabbro left in the second period with what is still an undisclosed injury. A similar thing happened to Alexandre Carrier last Thursday, who is now out for three-to-five weeks, so we can only hope that Fabbro’s is not as serious.
Late in the third period, Kunin took a puck to the ear, and if you re-watch the play, you can see just how gruesome it looked. Thankfully, he was more than able to skate off the ice under his own power, but we just have to hope this does not sideline him for very long if at all.
The Predators just cannot catch a break with the injury bug, but it magnifies the impressiveness of this win. Despite being frustrated by missing several chances and being shorthanded, they stayed with it, and they deserve a lot of credit for what they did.
Predators continue to assert themselves
After last Thursday’s loss to the Dallas Stars, the Predators had to come back out and prove that their winning over the past few weeks was not a fluke. So far, they have passed that test with flying colors.
Yes, you can look at this game and think that it was unimpressive since they only managed to beat one of the worst teams in the shootout. But the way they won this game was incredibly gutsy and very impressive, and they should be proud of that.
The Nashville Predators have now won ten of their past 12 games, and are still sitting well in the playoff race with 43 points and sole possession of fourth place in the Central division.
Unfortunately for them, both the Chicago Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Jackets, two teams not far behind the Predators in the standings, won last night, keeping the gap between them and the Blackhawks at two points.
The Predators will have to keep working hard if they want to keep that playoff spot, and the way they can do that is if they just keep doing what they are doing. They are playing some inspired hockey and finding different ways to win, and they have every reason to feel confident moving forward throughout the next few games.