Desperation was the overall theme for the Nashville Predators on Saturday as they narrowly escaped with a 2-1 overtime victory over the Philadelphia Flyers.
scored the game-winner just 34 seconds into overtime after skating rather effortlessly into the slot and receiving a set-up pass from
It was Duchene’s third game-winning goal of the season and his 10th of his career with the Nashville Predators. He also ups his goal streak to three-straight games.
This was a game you had to show your patience in. As predicted, both teams struggled to find their offenses and made scoring chances at a premium.
With the win, the Predators keep pace in the postseason race with 56 points, putting them four points out of both a wildcard spot and a third place position in the Central Division.
1. How Long Will Forsberg Be Out?
The hit on Filip Forsberg from Rasmus Ristolainen looked an ordinary hard check at first glance. In the slow motion replay, you can see that Forsberg’s head awkwardly hit the ice and he lost his skates from under him:
The scene was pretty scary immediately following as Forsberg laid face down, and then eventually had to be helped off the ice by teammates on either side. It was unclear in the moment what the injury was.
Tanner Jeannot in particular took exception to the hit and both benches exchanged words heading into the first intermission of a defensive grinder of a game.
Jeannot would drop the gloves with Nicolas Deslauriers in the opening seconds of the second period. After getting that sorted out, Nashville had to shuffle their forward lines up as Forsberg would not return to the game.
Replacing Forsberg’s ice time was challenging as he is third on the team among forwards in time on ice. Mikael Granlund would end up with over 20 minutes of ice time, Duchene with over 19 minutes, and Johansen with 19:38.
Looking ahead, it remains unclear just how long Forsberg will miss. The Predators next play on Monday against the Arizona Coyotes, and I would not expect Forsberg to be in that game if for nothing else, an abundance of caution considering we’re dealing with a head injury.
Forsberg is currently listed as “Day to Day” so expect more on this on Monday ahead of their matchup with Arizona.
2. Just Keep Grinding Away
This is kind of who the Nashville Predators are. A team that rarely makes it look pretty, but know how to dig deep and secure the two points when their backs are against the wall.
The Flyers lived off of blocking shots in this game. They finished with 30 blocked shots on a Predators team that already has a hard enough time finding the back of the net. Blocking that many shots is just criminal.
However, the Predators kept pushing away and getting a lot of zone time. The problem was they not only had a lot of their shots blocked, but also missed the net numerous times.
As expected, both teams lived off their physical styles of play. No doubt things got even more chippy after the Forsberg hit, despite it being a clean hit. Players are always going to stick up for their teammate, especially when it’s a star player.
The Predators would lay out 43 hits while the Flyers dished out 40 of their own. This was just some old school, smashmouth hockey. This brand usually benefits the Predators more so than the flashy styles that we see from the highly skilled offensive teams.
3. Remain Poised and Discipline
The Predators did a commendable job at keeping their emotion in check in this game. They stayed locked in despite a rather frustrating afternoon at the office.
Aside from the two fighting majors, one from rookie Juuso Parssinen, the Predators avoided taking bad penalties. They end up taking zero minor penalties. When you look at the NHL ranks in types of penalties, the Predators are third-most in major penalties but just 17th in minor penalties.
This could have easily turned into one of those games where the focus is lost and the players get away from the task at hand. They knew this game had a must-win feel to it after the horror show against Vegas to come out of the All-Star Break on Tuesday.
The grinders who tend to take a lot of penalties showed discipline in this game. Guys like Lauzon, Jeannot, Yakov Trenin and Cole Smith are usually the ones who will find the penalty box at inopportune times. Not on this day, and it didn’t allow the Flyers to get any gift power plays.
Juuse Saros didn’t face his normal large barrage of shots, but he did come up big when needed aside from the 1-on-1 goal he gave up on Kevin Hayes, which was just a ridiculous move on the part of Hayes.
Overall, this is a gut check win for the Nashville Predators. It’s not as if the Flyers have completely packed it in yet and you beat a lame duck team. You can be proud about this one and quickly shift your focus to Arizona on Monday.