The Comeback Kids?
By: Miranda Martin
After Monday’s game against Dallas, the Nashville Predators proved they could do something this season—they can bounce back. And it was a sight for sore eyes.
The previous two games, the Predators had been shut out by Vancouver and Detroit, and not for lack of trying. With Craig Smith’s goal in the first period, the Predators went 133:43 without scoring a goal. For perspective, Pekka Rinne’s consecutive shut outs in early February was only 4 minutes longer. The Dallas Stars saw a very bouncy second period, scoring two goals in 25 seconds and four goals total in the period. After the first two Dallas goals, the Predators were quick to tie it up, but a flurry of unnecessary penalties resulted in 2 more goals, making the deficit 4-2–something the Predators did not want to see.
In previous games, the Predators have not been able to convert in after such a deficit. Against Colorado, when the team was down 6-3, they were able to produce 2 more goals, but it wasn’t enough to convert the loss. In other losses, the offense just shut down and forgot how to score. But things finally started going right for the Predators. The major story was young defenseman Roman Josi, whose 4-point performance including the overtime winner finally made the experts on NBC Sports Network stop calling him Ryan Suter. Patric Hornqvist finally found the back of the net, on a 5-on-3 advantage at the end of the second period. Also, after taking one of the game-changing penalties in the second period, Mike Fisher stepped up and scored a beautiful, quadruple-coverage Datsyukian goal. Though it took an overtime to find the fifth goal, it only took 27 seconds to score…And considering 10 of 20 Preds games have gone to overtime or shootout, we’re just going to say “close enough.”
In this three game road trip, the Predators definitely will have to know how to bounce back. In the California swing in January, the Predators found the shootout to decide all three games, with victories against LA and San Jose. Tonight’s game against Anaheim will be a definite task, as the Ducks are going to see if they can bounce back as well. If there wasn’t an undefeated Chicago Blackhawks team in the picture, the Ducks would definitely be the main story around the league. Their 6-game win streak was halted by the LA Kings Tuesday night in a 5-2 loss, barely blemishing their 13-3-1 record. Goaltender Viktor Fasth has still only registered one loss this season, as well.
The Predators have proved now that their offense can answer to a deficit of more than one goal and come back to win. The shootout shouldn’t and hopefully won’t have to be the verdict of the decision, like the previous two Anaheim games. The road power play, which has only scored 3 out of 35 attempts (8.6%, 26th), will have to learn to convert as well as the home power play (22.9%, 11th). Players who have finally started finding their scoring niche, like Patric Hornqvist and Mike Fisher, will have to continue pushing pucks to the net. It’s time to lock down and keep bouncing back. After this road trip… the season will be just shy of halfway over!
Tonight’s game will be televised on Fox Sports TN. Faceoff at the Honda Center is at 9 PM CST.