The Nashville Predators tend to win games ugly, oftentimes being forced to stand tall defensively while the offense sputters down the stretch. That was very much the case today, as the Predators were under pressure late, but did their job and earned another victory against the San Jose Sharks, advancing to 2-0-0 on the season and earning all wins in the NHL Global Series.
The team certainly has not been perfect in these first two games, but they have gotten wins, which is of course what ultimately matters. Let’s get into what fueled the victory today.
Nino Niederreiter continues to shine for Nashville Predators
When the Predators acquired Niederreiter, the feeling was that he would be a fan-favorite and mesh perfectly with the team’s identity. Especially after today’s game, the sentiment has only continued to grow.
He had two goals, including the game winner when he was coming out of the penalty box and joined the rush perfectly. It was such a perfect feed from Eeli Tolvanen — who himself has looked great to start the year — and the shot by Niederreiter was perfectly placed.
He has been the most noticeable on a second line that has looked so good so far, and it you can tell he and Ryan Johansen still have chemistry from their days as teammates before the NHL. It is safe to say that signing Niederreiter to the contract he got was a steal for the Predators.
Nashville Predators take advantage in second period
The Predators has the Sharks on their heels for parts of the first period, but whenever it felt like they would get a chance, nothing really came of it. That changed in the second when Niederreiter got them on the board after cleaning up a rebound from Johansen.
The Predators would give up another goal just seconds after than, but they tied it not long after than with a great wrap-around pursuit goal by Filip Forsberg. Then a few minutes after that, the aforementioned game-winner by Niederreiter happened.
The Predators not only responded to adversity after the second goal against, but they took advantage of the chances they got. And that ultimately was the difference between winning and losing in this one.
Nashville Predators hold it down defensively in third period
The third period was a stressful one for the Predators, as they were on defense nearly the whole time and had only three shots on goal. But for as much time as they played defensively, they did well with it.
They gave up a lot of shots, but most of them seemed to come from the outside and in generally low percentage scoring areas. The team still did a good job in front of Kevin Lankinen, who himself had a good debut with the Predators.
Of course, this has rightfully been a complaint with the team over the past few seasons, and it is not sustainable to long-term success. To their credit, the Predators are usually pretty good at playing defensive hockey.
This game reinforced two of the main issues on the Predators last year: penalties and playing in their own zone too often. But ultimately, they are doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing after these two games.
They won decisively yesterday, and there are certainly more positives than negatives as of this point. Yes these games were against the Sharks, who are not exactly the best team this year, but wins are very hard to come by in the NHL, so getting two points is a good thing no matter what.
The Predators will be back in action next Thursday at 7:30 PM Central as they take on the Dallas Stars in their home opener. The game will be televised on ESPN+ and Hulu.