They did it. The Nashville Predators finally won a game in overtime, and they did it in dramatic fashion. Who would have thought that the Predators would record an overtime win while shorthanded? Not many. On Tuesday night, Nashville Predators forward Calle Jarnkrok notched the game winner with just two seconds remaining in overtime, giving his team a 2-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks.
“I saw that the puck was bobbling a little bit,” said Jarnkrok. I wasn’t sure if Roman was going to shoot it or not but he gave me an open-netter so I’d like to say thanks to Josi.”
The scoring play resulted from Roman Josi blocking a shot and the puck popping out of the zone creating a rush. Josi and Jarnkrok flew into the offensive alone with time on the clock dwindling down.
“It happened so quick,” said head coach Peter Laviolette. “They made it just under the gun. Oftentimes you see something going in that direction, you’re wondering about the turnaround. Luckily, the clock was down far enough where there wouldn’t be a turnaround had they not connected. But they did connect, and it was a beautiful play.”
It wasn’t exactly the same bench reaction as in the playoffs, but it was still a doozy.
— Thomas Willis (@TomAWillis) January 11, 2017
“It’s not too often you get a 2-on-0, especially when you’re down a man, killing a penalty, but the guys did a great job killing it up to that point,” said defenseman Matt Irwin, who was watching from the bench. “Then they capitalized on the one opportunity that we got.”
Tuesday’s win marked the first time the Predators have won in overtime this season.
“It’s a big victory,” said Irwin. “We’re about to embark on a road trip here up after the next game. These two home games are huge, and we’re looking for four points. We got two tonight. We’ll move on and worry about Thursday tomorrow and look to get another two. It’s a big win. It’s not how you draw it up, but the guys stayed composed, and we’re feeling good about our game.”
What’s even better is that Nashville was able to secure two points while battling so many injuries. The Predators have been without the service of P.K. Subban for weeks, but also missing from the game were James Neal (who’s currently on injured reserve) and Colin Wilson. Viktor Arvidsson returned to game action, and even battled an injury in the second period before returning. Mike Fisher also played after getting hurt Sunday evening. Young players have stepped in to fill the void left by injured players. It’s an opportunity that they’re taking advantage of while they have it.
“It’s huge,” said Irwin on young players stepping in. “Guys go down with injuries, and it’s fill that void by committee, and the guys that have been called up have done a great job. It’s a testament to the whole organization playing the same way down in Milwaukee so when guys get the opportunity to play up here, they’re not thinking too much. They can play the system and go to work, and do what makes them successful.”
Nashville has had games that looked like ones where they could build and put a run together, but they have yet to do that. Tuesday’s game is another opportunity for them to build off momentum of a much-needed victory and make that January push like they did last season.
Last week, Matt Irwin signed a one-year contract extension with the Predators. While he’s excited to be back next season, he’s still focused on the goal to make the playoffs.
“I’m thankful for the opportunity they’ve given me to step in the line-up and play and I’m very happy to be here next year as well,” said Irwin. “But the job’s not done there. I’ve been more concerned about us getting points and pushing to get into the playoffs. Those things kind of just happen when teams are winning. It’s nice that I got it and I’m thankful for it, but now the main goal is to get to the playoffs.”
Before the team embarks on a five-game road trip, they’ll take on the Boston Bruins at home on Thursday. With so many teams in the Western Conference bunched up in the standings around the Wild Card spots, the cliché statement of “every point matters” truly comes into play this time of year.