The Nashville Predators set a franchise-record ninth straight win at home Tuesday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs. In the typical, entertaining fashion that is Predators hockey this season, the team battled back in the third period, scoring two goals en route to the 4-3 win.
“We’re trying to win every single game at home and we’re doing a great job of it this year,” said Colin Wilson, who scored the game-winning goal midway through the third period. “We’re taking pride in it and I think that’s what you saw tonight for us to battle back from 3-2.”
Wilson’s game-winner was the result of a major push by Nashville following Mike Fisher’s tying goal.
“I just saw Neal throw it at the net and Fisher was going too,” said Wilson. “I just decided to go down there and the puck just squirted to me on the goal line and I put it in.”
Before the push from the Predators, Mike Santorelli gave the Maple Leafs the lead early in the third period. Immediately following the goal, head coach Peter Laviolette elected to use his timeout to help reset the team.
“He said, ‘We might as well leave it on the ice; we have nothing to lose,'” Wilson said. “We saw it coming. We didn’t play well in the second and they changed the momentum and we had to counter that.”
As the story goes this season, Laviolette’s timeouts work in the best way possible, and they usually result in goals.
“We started going the other way,” said Shea Weber on how the team responded to the timeout. “We played a lot in our end in the second and we couldn’t break out. I think we did a better job exiting our end. We were good off the rush. Fisher got one. The other one, guys were just hungry. Wilson got to the net and just whacked it in. It wasn’t our best effort, but you have to find ways to win sometimes.”
Whether it’s timely goals or amazing saves, the Predators are finding ways to win this season. They currently lead the league with 72 points and a 33-11-6 record.
“It’s not too surprising,” said goaltender Carter Hutton on coming from behind. “I think we’ve shown that all year. We’re never really out of games at any point. We didn’t think it was our best game. We weren’t happy with our second and obviously our third didn’t start the way we wanted to. We stuck with it and that’s huge. There at the end, a huge kill. They were all over us, but we battled through. Weber had a couple of big plays there. That’s what we do. We find ways to win hockey games.”
Included in finding ways to win are ridiculous saves. While the Leafs were attacking late in the third period, Hutton made a game-saving, highlight reel stick save.
“It just popped out from the one timer,” said Hutton. “He shot it and I knew Winnick was driving wide. It’s one of those ones where it hits the body and you know it’s going to bounce. I was able to just spin and had my eye on it and catch it with my stick. You get lucky sometimes, too. You battle on every puck and sometimes it just goes your way. That’s big and we stayed with it to win the game.”
Colin Wilson was on the ice to witness it.
“We’d still be on the ice right now probably,” said Wilson, laughing. “It was a great save. I was out there and I saw it. It was just a great play by him and I’m really excited for him.”
Tuesday night was the first of 10 home games in the month of February. The home fans kicked off the start of the game with a great tribute to Toronto and its fans. In November when the Predators took on the Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre, the microphone went out on the anthem singer during the Star Spangled Banner. The crowd immediately took over and finished the anthem. In a huge gesture of thanks, Predators fans responded in kind by singing O Canada.
“It’s pretty neat any time you can get the fans involved,” said Wilson. “In Toronto, I think it was a bit more spontaneous, which made it a little more special, but at the same time it was cool how we responded. Our team likes doing things like that. It was cool to see.”
Nashville takes on the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday night, a team hot on the trail of the Nashville Predators.
Watch Peter Laviolette’s post game press conference: