Breaking down the Game 6 victory with Jeremy K. Gover of the Nashville Predators Radio Network. Clips included from Mike Fisher, Ryan Johansen, Viktor Arvidsson, Roman Josi, Pekka Rinne and Peter Laviolette.
It took nearly 15 minutes for the Nashville Predators to get their game plan in sync, but once they did, they didn’t let up. After overcoming two deficits, including an early two-goal deficit in the first, the Predators force their second straight Game 7 with their 4-3 overtime victory on Monday night.
At first, the outcome of the game looked dismal as Nashville fell into a 2-0 hole off two goals from San Jose’s Chris Tierney. The team was struggling with the puck and couldn’t gain possession. For a time, the Nashville Predators had the same number of shots as the Sharks had goals at two. Finally, at 15:27, Roman Josi tallied his first goal of the playoffs, and from then on, the Predators dominated play.
“I think [Josi’s] goal, with five minutes or so left to go in the first period, was really important,” said head coach Peter Laviolette. “It injected some life into us. I’ve got to tell you, the fans tonight were just incredible. The building was unbelievable, and when you come down from elimination games, last round and this round, and you have a building like we do…the energy that we draw from that, that we pull from that, I can’t even tell you how important that is for our group. It was a great environment. After that [goal], we came out in the second period and really put our foot on the gas pedal.”
“I thought after that first period everybody was going and everybody was playing well,” said Roman Josi. “We had a lot of chances in the third or the second period, and it’s just a lot of character. We’ve been through a lot of adversity this year, and I think that definitely helps us now.”
After being outshot 8-5 in the first period, Nashville peppered Martin Jones for the remainder of the game, firing 14 on net in the second and 11 in the third. The Predators controlled all aspects of play for a solid 40 minutes, but fell behind 3-2 following an awkward stumble by Pekka Rinne.
“Nobody would want that [third goal] back more than him,” said Laviolette. “He’s a competitive guy. He got tripped up there for a second, and they were able to score a big goal. I thought our response was really good shortly after that with Wilson putting in the goal to tie it up. But, let’s not kid each other. [Rinne] has been outstanding in this series, and when we win, he’s a big part of it.”
The team quickly responded though as Colin Wilson continued his playoff hot streak. Wilson tied the game to force overtime just under three minutes following the San Jose goal. With his goal, Wilson extended his playoff points streak to seven games, a personal and franchise record.
In the game, head coach Peter Laviolette made some adjustments to his lines, putting Viktor Arvidsson on the top line with Ryan Johansen and Filip Forsberg. Arvidsson’s speed and tenacity could easily be seen throughout the entire game. It’s no wonder why he was the one to score the game-winner in overtime, off the backhand nonetheless.
“We just had a feeling that [Arvidsson] was going to be a non-stop worker out there, and use his speed to try and get in on the fore-check, and make things happen,” said Laviolette. “It was great for him. He’s such a fun player to watch. You’ve got some speed behind him in the neutral zone, he was able to turn [the puck] over, and get an angle to get a shot off. It was a great shot. I thought, more than anything it was just trying to get more people involved.”
“Of course it feels good,” said Viktor Arvidsson on his goal. “I’ve had a lot of chances and haven’t buried them, and I managed to bury this so it was really nice.”
For the first time since before the playoffs began, the Predators will have two days off before their next game. The team has traveled close to 15,000 miles since the beginning of the playoffs and have played every other night. They will take Tuesday off before practicing on Wednesday and flying to San Jose. Game 7 will be Thursday night in San Jose.
“It’s nice, another trip to Cali (California), but at least we have two days off between the games,” said Pekka Rinne. “It’s nice; we haven’t had that in a long time. I think by now we all know what we need to do is take care of the body, and then gear up for Game Seven.”
Photo credit: Christina McCullough