We don’t get to say it very often, but the Nashville Predators cruised to an easy win over the Anaheim Ducks on Friday to earn their 15th win of the season to move to 35 points.
The Predators’ six goals were the second time they reached that mark in a game this season, and only the third time they scored more than four goals in a game.
With the 30th-ranked goal scoring output in the NHL at 2.59 per game, this was a welcoming sight, albeit against the NHL’s worst defensive team in the Ducks.
What Stood Out in the Nashville Predators’ 6-1 Win
One thing the Nashville Predators haven’t been bad at through their first 34 games is scoring first. They’re one of the lowest scoring teams in the NHL, but regularly find ways to score first:
Colton Sissons broke the scoring open after a beautiful feed from behind the net from Forsberg just over eight minutes into regulation.
The passing was as crisp as I’ve seen it maybe all season. Everyone looked like they were on the same page generating scoring chances and putting John Gibson completely under fire for most of the game.
Gibson was forced into 37 saves and had to fend off 19 High Danger Scoring Chances for the Predators. Six goals for the Predators could’ve easily been eight or nine without some spectacular saves by Gibson.
Not to be outdone, Juuse Saros also put together a strong performance. He wasn’t as busy with just 26 saves and one goal surrendered, but the Ducks still managed their fair share of High Danger Chances with 14.
Saros is now on a streak of nine consecutive games where he has given up three goals or less. Quite frankly speaking, Saros is keeping his team in the game virtually every time out. The goal support has to follow.
I can’t say enough about how much of a spark Tommy Novak has meant to this lineup. He skates so well without the puck, forechecks hard, and looks like he has a full grasp of what he’s being asked to do by coaches. He was all over the ice against the Ducks on Friday and scored his second goal since returning to the lineup on December 19, posting points in four of five games.
Novak has proven to be versatile as well. Head Coach John Hynes has never been shy about shaking up the lines. Against the Ducks, Novak moved down to the fourth line with Cole Smith and Tanner Jeannot, and he provided a huge boost to that line.
The Predators won the shot total easily by a 43-27 margin despite only getting one power play opportunity, which they connected on with
‘s eighth goal of the season:
Novak also led the Predators in shots with seven. For a player who is coming off his rookie year and just getting back into the lineup, Novak looks incredibly comfortable and like a veteran with six years under his belt.
Filip Forsberg posted a three-point game for the third time this season, push his 2022-23 total to 29 points in 34 games. Him alongside Juuso Parssinen on a line that has proven to be effective as well.
This was a total and complete team effort from top to bottom. The Ducks had just beaten the Vegas Golden Knights two days before, so anytime you completely dominate the scoreboard like this you have something to be proud of. Regardless of the standings.
Quick Turnaround to Vegas
The Nashville Predators have no time to rest on their laurels as they take on the Vegas Golden Knights on New Years Eve to bring in 2023. A lengthy winning streak is badly needed if the Predators are going to climb back into playoff contention.
Currently, the Predators sit six points behind Colorado and Calgary for a wildcard spot. They do have three games in hand over Calgary. In the Central Division race, the Predators are seven points behind third-place Minnesota.
The gap isn’t insurmountable by any means. We’re not even at the halfway point of the regular season. However, troubling trends were making it hard to fathom this team mustering up a postseason berth.
The upcoming schedule over the next couple of weeks offers some winnable games if the Nashville Predators continue to show progress with their offensive chemistry, and of course if that power play keeps showing improvement.
The Golden Knights lead the Pacific Division with 50 points and a 24-12-2 record. Their last time out they lost on Wednesday to the Ducks by a 3-2 score in the shootout. They’ve lost four of their last six.