Going into the third period with the game far from decided is something the Nashville Predators have been used to this season. Following the 4-3 victory over the Washington Capitals Friday evening, the Predators push their record to 12-1-2 when heading into the third period with the score being tied. Add to that the overall record of 30-9-4, which is still good for the league lead. It wasn’t an easy victory, but being able to rally after going down 3-2 early in the third period continues to show the resilience of this Nashville team.
“It felt good,” said Mike Fisher on the victory. “In third periods this year, we’ve been real solid and found ways to create and get big goals, timely goals. We believe we can win any game. It’s a powerful thing.”
Before this all unraveled, the Predators had trouble with the Capitals in the second period. Washington continued to apply pressure and even allowed a power play goal.
“They were pressing,” said Fisher. “They have a couple lines that are highly offensive and they can throw the puck at the net and create and do some good things. I thought we were a little bit flat in parts of the game, but when it counts, we’ve been showing up and coming up big.”
Two of the three goals for the Capitals were scored by their captain, Alex Ovechkin. Both goals came from the face off circle to the right of goaltender Carter Hutton.
“That’s where he scores most of his goals,” said Fisher on Ovechkin. “[To prepare], you try and get in lanes and try to get in front of him, but somehow he seems to get pucks through. Hutton had no chance on those. You learn from it and try and take it away from him a little more the next time.”
About three quarters of the way through the second period, Fisher drew a hooking call on Mike Green that some, including those on the Predators bench, thought should have been a penalty shot. While it resulted in a power play, Nashville was not able to convert.
“Looking at it, I’m surprised it wasn’t a penalty shot, but [the officials] didn’t think so,” said Fisher. “I was just trying to break through and he (Mike Green) was doing everything he can, so I couldn’t get free.”
In the third period, goals from Mattias Ekholm, on the power play, and James Neal secured the victory for the number one team in the league. The energy in building erupted after Ekholm’s goal, and the team continued to build off that energy.
“The crowd was awesome,” said Fisher. “Washington went up and we felt alright and had lots of time to create and get chances. Obviously that was a big power play goal and after that, the crowd was just buzzing. We fed off the crowd and were able to get the next one.”
Home ice advantage has been rolling for the squad this season, posting an 18-2-1 record. It’s something the feeds the team and helps them close out victories in the third.
“The fans were outstanding tonight, right from the start, they were incredible,” said head coach Peter Laviolette. “You could feel the energy in the building. And to end it the way it did – that stuff is just great. Our players love it, our fans love it and it’s a good night in the building.”
It’s a quick turnaround for the Predators as they take on their old rival in the Detroit Red Wings Saturday night. It’ll just be another test for a team that continues to pass each one put in front of them.
“We just have to keep playing the way we have,” said Fisher. “Luckily, we’ve been able to roll four lines and spread it out. That will help in back-to-backs. We have a tough one tomorrow, there are no easy games.”
Complete video of Peter Laviolette’s post game: