It wasn’t the full effort the team was looking for, but Tuesday night’s win against the Colorado Avalanche was a step in the right direction for the Nashville Predators.
In their 4-3 win against Colorado, the Nashville Predators were able to officially eliminate the Avalanche from playoff contention. The win was Nashville’s first following three regulation losses and a shootout loss. Tuesday night also saw the return of defenseman Ryan Ellis, who had missed the last two games with an upper-body injury.
“It felt good,” said Ellis on getting back. “Nice to be with the guys and get a win.”
Last week against the Stars, Ellis took a puck to the side of the head, so it was definitely a boost to the defensive corps to have him back on the ice.
With the Predators already knowing their seed for the playoffs, wins and losses won’t do anything to change their positioning. What is important however, is continuing to build on doing the right things as they enter the playoffs. Nashville still had power on Tuesday night in that a victory over Colorado would eliminate the Avalanche from the playoffs. Doing that in a win over a Central Division foe can help build that momentum.
“It’s about getting back on track for the playoffs,” said Ellis. “I feel like we took a step in the right direction.”
Nashville controlled the majority of the first period, not even allowing an opposing shot on goal until after the 10-minute mark. They took their foot off the gas late in the first and in the second, and it allowed the Avalanche to creep back into the game. After building a 2-0 lead, the Predators allowed Colorado to tie the game twice, at 2-2 and 3-3, before Craig Smith finally got the game-winner early in the third.
“I think any time you give up chances, every team wants to eliminate the most chances they can in a game,” said Ellis. “I thought [Pekka] played great, but we have to eliminate as many as we can. We need to get back in line and headed in the right direction for playoffs, so it’s another step that we have to take.”
Head coach Peter Laviolette liked the overall effort in the first and third periods, but knows the team needed to tighten up in the second.
“I liked the first period,” said Laviolette. “We just were playing a desperate team tonight and we took a little bit of a step back in the second period. I thought they hit the gas pedal in the second period, and that was enough to put them in our in way too much. To get the response in the third I thought was really important, especially after having some tough periods. We’ll look back and try to get better at the second and avoid those lulls like you talked about.”
Both Laviolette and Ellis liked the effort out of goaltender Pekka Rinne tonight. There were moments in the third period where Rinne stood on his head to help his team maintain the lead. As it’s so widely known, Rinne will continue to be an important piece for this team to make a deep playoff run.
“It’s important,” said Ellis on goaltending. “We’re going to need everyone in this room. I think a goalie can win you games. They can steal them for you. Tonight wasn’t our best effort, especially the second, but I felt we played well, and when we didn’t, [Pekka] was there for us.”
The Predators have two games remaining in the regular season, Thursday at home against the Arizona Coyotes and then on the road in Dallas Western Conference-leading Stars.
Post game video with Colin Wilson, Ryan Johansen & Peter Laviolette[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bIEY0HMYtfY]
Photo credit: Christina McCullough