The Nashville Predators keep winning at home, and it hasn’t been an easy feat to do so, but they’ll take it. After the 4-3 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night, Nashville is now 11-1-1 at home, making it the best home record in the entire NHL. Three lines contributed to the scoresheet, including a beautiful one-timer from Eric Nystrom.
“It’s funny how it’s a game of inches,” said Nystrom. “I made a play to him up high in the slot. If they poke that by him, we’re in trouble going back the other way, but he poked it by their guy and I just popped into the spot. [Ribeiro] is such a good passer and I just shot it as quick as I could.”
Right before his goal, the Predators had killed off a penalty. During the penalty, Nystrom’s stick broke, but he made an incredible play to get the puck out of the zone.
“I was going, ‘Please get out, please get out,’ because we in our own end for quite a bit and not having a stick is pretty tiring,” said Nystrom. “They moved the puck around on the power play pretty well, so I was pretty gassed. We battled through that and got a rush right out of the penalty box at the end of that kill and scored a goal.”
Nystrom’s shift on the penalty kill leading up to his goal was a momentum changer according to Nashville Predators head coach Peter Laviolette.
“That was a big goal, where we started to turn that tide and turn the momentum in the period and that was a big part of it too,” said Laviolette.
As in recent games, the penalty kill held strong for Nashville, which most certainly helped them earn the two points.
“A lot of things on the penalty kill are just bad breaks,” said Nystrom knocking on the wood locker room stalls. “A couple were bad breaks, a couple were just missed blocked shots and we realized that every shot could possibly go in the back of your net, so we have to pay the price. We’re doing a lot better job getting in the puck lane and blocking shots and clearing the net front. It’s going our way and we’re working hard and turning it over. It’s a lot better than getting scored on.”
Thursday night’s match up was another game that saw the opponent score first, but Nashville was able to battle back and secure the lead later in the game.
“A game is not defined in the first five minutes, first period or first 40,” said Nystrom. “Sometimes they take time to develop and it took us a little bit to get our legs underneath us, but we didn’t quit until the end. That’s been the mentality in here all year.”
At 17-6-2, the Predators have yet to lose back-to-back games. Being able to come out strong after a loss, shows signs of resilience and proves that their record isn’t a fluke.
“I think we’re feeling like we expect to win every night and when we don’t win, it’s really disappointing for us,” said Nystrom. “We come into every single game thinking that we have a chance. We did that tonight. We bounced back after not our best performance. Nobody was happy about it.”
In a game that was a direct battle for first place in the Central Division, a match up between the Blues and Predators was set to be very physical.
“They’re going to do the same thing to us with the way they play. They’re a physical team and we know we have guys in here that need to be physical. I’m obviously one of those guys. It’s one of those things that you just can’t even avoid it. They’re just big and in the way. It’s always like that when you play against them. It was a great battle.”
Saturday sees another divisional rival come to town in the Chicago Blackhawks with a special start time of 6:00pm CST.
Head coach Peter Laviolette’s post game press conference:
Photo credit: Frederick Breedon