In their past five games, the Nashville Predators have earned at least one point. During that span however, the Predators have lost three games in overtime, including Saturday night’s 2-1 loss to Los Angeles.On the season, Nashville’s record is 1-10 in the three-on-three period.
While getting points is important, there are multiple teams chasing the Predators for a Wild Card spot in the Western Conference. All too many times, it’s been seen how one point can change everything in the standings when it comes to the playoffs. The team knows they need to get two points every night, but they will take getting at least one and then move on to the next game.
“Every point is going to be crucial down the stretch, and you have to take as many from a game as possible,” said Anthony Bitetto. “Tonight, you want two, but you have to be a little positive that we got one. I think that’s the mindset. We have a road trip coming up, so we’ll get back at it.”
Nashville did have an excellent effort in the first period. They had long puck possession times in the offensive zone and put up 12 shots on Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick. They finally converted on their chances with just 27 seconds left in the opening period on a Ryan Ellis power play goal to even the game at one each.
“I thought we were good,” said Bitetto. “We came out flying, and we talked about giving an A-plus effort and I thought it was there. We had a ton of chances, a couple bounces don’t go your way, but we just shouldn’t go to overtime. It’s a little frustrating, but that’s hockey and you move forward.”
“You never want to see a guy on your team go down, that’s for sure,” said Bitetto. “I’m not really sure how he’s doing, so hopefully he’s good to go. You play five [defensemen] at times. That’s part of the game, I guess.”
In head coach Peter Laviolette’s post game press conference, no update was given, and Jackman will be evaluated on Sunday.
“I think the biggest thing is you have injuries in the course of a game, and you have an injury like that, you have to go out there and manage the game,” said Bitetto. Keep it simple. You’re not really sure who you’re playing with, but when you’re out there, you’ve got to make the best of it.”
A big thing the defense and the rest of team has been doing in the past few games is blocking shots. If anything, this help ease the stress on the goaltender as well as create offensive opportunities in the other direction. In their victory over Boston on Thursday, the Predators had 20 blocked shots. Saturday against the Kings, they blocked 24 shots, with Shea Weber leading the team at five shots blocked.
“It’s huge,” said Bitetto, who blocked two shots in the game. “That’s part of this game, you have to lay out and be involved. When you have a guy that steps up to have a huge block, it’s really crucial for our team.”
Nashville embarks on a three-game road trip that will have them see two struggling teams out of Canada in Montreal and Toronto, then close with a nationally-televised game in Chicago. The Predators should, at the very least, come out of the road trip with four points.
“Mindset is points right now,” said Bitetto. “Obviously, you go into games and you want to win them, of course. The more points we get out of the three-game road trip, the better. It’s point mindset, and we have to collect those.”