Good teams find a way to win. At 11-4-2, it’s certain that this year’s Nashville Predators team is a good one. Saturday night’s game in Nashville pitted the Predators versus their divisional foe, the Winnipeg Jets. Entering the third period, the teams were tied at one in the defensive showdown. With just over two minutes remaining in the game, Craig Smith potted a rebound goal to put Nashville up 2-1, sealing the victory.
“It’s great, obviously,” said defenseman Roman Josi on the victory. “We’re really happy about the win. It seems this year we keep finding a way to win games in the third period. That gives you a lot of confidence whether you’re going into the third with a tie game or just up one. It’s a confidence booster.”
Even though the second period saw goals scored for each team, they both seemed sluggish. The period began with multiple icings and stoppages in play. Neither team allowed many scoring opportunities through the period. It was the type of game that Josi expected.
“They’re a tough team,” said Josi. “They don’t give you much. I felt like in the first, they were the better team. We were a little slow in the first period. In the second period, we didn’t have much and they didn’t have much. I knew it was going to be that kind of game and I’m glad we found a way to win.”
When two teams with top-rated defenses that do not allow many goals against, 2-1 games are very likely to happen.
“There were not a lot attempts at either net,’ said head coach Peter Laviolette. “There was no room through the neutral zone either way. We knew it was the type of hockey they were playing based on their record and having played them recently. It was hard to get to the neutral zone and the front of the net and I think that went both ways.”
It was even difficult for defensemen to step up and get involved in the offense.
“The whole game was kind of tough to get the offense going,” said Josi. “I think they’re fifth in goals against. They play good defensively and tied us up in the neutral zone, so we didn’t have much. You have to dump pucks in and that’s how it was today. I think both teams didn’t get that many chances.”
Included in the struggles tonight was the power play. Saturday night, the Predators went 0-4 on the power play. It’s a continued work in progress, but certainly something that must be fixed as the season progresses.
“It wasn’t good at all tonight,” said Josi. “I think we didn’t get in the zone how we wanted and didn’t set it up. We didn’t get pucks to the net, so we have to work on that and be better.”
When good teams find ways to win, usually lucky bounces will go in their favor. The bounce leading to Smith’s game-winning goal was exactly that.
“I think that’s what we got at the end,” said Josi on the bounce leading to the goal. [Jarnkrok] shot it and it just bounced to [Smith] and he scored. That’s how tight games are decided like that.”
By now, the Predators are not surprising anyone with their winning ways. They are playing solid defense and ways to score goals are the right time. Up next is a two-game swing in Canada against the Maple Leafs and Senators. Two more tests to keep proving the league how good of a team they are.
Peter Laviolette full post game presser:
*Photo credit – John Russell