Nothing was for Nashville this week. The Predators embarked on a four-game road trip — three in Western Canada — and found themselves at a deficit in each game.
However, despite not playing its best hockey, Nashville persevered, winning all four. The trip was a huge eye-opener, and it displayed just how good this team really is. It overcame bad play and four deficits, rested four starters (including the captain Roman Josi and offensive juggernaut Craig Smith) for two games and still prevailed. Nashville is rolling right now, winning at its highest level heading into the playoffs.
Tuesday (2/27) @ Winnipeg Jets: 6-5 Win
It seems as though we say it every week, but this game might have been the most exciting game of the year so far. Nashville faced a two-goal deficit at two different points in the game. The first came when Winnipeg scored 14 minutes into the second period to go up 3-1. The Preds crawled and scraped their way back into it, though. Goals from Kyle Turris and Mattias Ekholm knotted things back up only three minutes later.
The Jets answered back, scoring two more. They took their second two-goal lead with the 10 minutes left. When all seemed lost, Nashville found its groove and scored three unanswered. The first was from Craig Smith and the second from Ryan Johansen. The game-winning goal was scored by the newly-acquired Ryan Hartman with a minute left in the game. This was an insane game with a crazy outcome that shows no matter who Nashville is playing, you can never count it out.
— Nashville Predators (@PredsNHL) February 28, 2018
Thursday (3/1) @ Edmonton Oilers: 4-2 Win
The Predators traveled to Edmonton on Thursday for the front-end of a back-to-back. Edmonton might be a struggling team, but it still has the best player in the world on the roster, so its always a threat. This proved evident as Conner McDavid got his team on the board first with a goal just 11 minutes in. The Oilers followed that goal with another one on the power play with only a minute left to play in the first. The Predators now faced their third two-goal deficit in two games.
For most of the second period it was just more of the same. The Preds were getting their chances, but were failing to capitalize. That was until Scott Hartnell was able to finally beat Edmonton with three minutes left in the period. Then as the period drew to an end, Forsberg and Arvidsson broke out on a two-on-one break. Forsberg threw the puck over to Arvidsson and he scored with nine seconds left.
— NHL (@NHL) March 2, 2018
The third period was pretty much all domination from Nashville. Arvidsson scored his second of the game to give his club the lead. Austin Watson scored an insurance goal not long after to secure the win. For the second straight game, the Preds erased a two-goal deficit to come back and win.
Friday (3/2) @ Vancouver Canucks: 4-3 Win (OT)
Friday night’s game was a bit different than others. Juuse Saros got the start in net, Mike Fisher made his return to the lineup, and four Nashville players sat out for a “maintenance day.” Despite all this, Vancouver is one of the worst teams in the NHL and, in theory, the Preds should have beaten this team easily. However — wouldn’t you know it — Nashville fell behind by two goals once again.
Vancouver scored once in the first period and then again in the second. By this point, Nashville was no stranger to being down two goals, and it reacted as such. Fisher scored first for the Predators for his first goal of the season and jolted his team back into the game.
— Nashville Predators (@PredsNHL) March 3, 2018
The third period was a wild one. It started with a five-minute major from Johansen. However, due to the reaction from Vancouver, they picked up a penalty, which led to four-on-four play for two minutes. During that time, Kevin Fiala scored to tie the game, only to have Vancouver score right back after they went back on the power play. The game was coming down to the wire, but with around two minutes left Ryan Ellis scored to send the game to overtime.
— Nashville Predators (@PredsNHL) March 3, 2018
Overtime did not last long. Not even a full minute in and Calle Järnkrok was able to put one in the back of the net and give his team the two points. The Preds showed their resiliency again, and erased a two-goal deficit for the third game in-a-row.
Sunday (3/4) @ Colorado Avalanche: 4-3 Win (OT)
The final game of the road trip was a stop in Denver to play the Avalanche. The Avalanche are a team that has been playing really well, lately. They are trying to get a playoff spot and beating a team like the Predators would do wonders for them. However, unlike Nashville’s previous three games, the Preds did not start slow, and got on the board first with a goal from Watson.
The game would go on and late in the third, the Preds found themselves in a tied game with the score 2-2. Then, Nashville committed a bad penalty and Colorado subsequently scored on the power play. Nashville looked like it was finally going to lose, but Ellis was determined to say otherwise. The Preds pulled their goalie and with a minute left, Ellis blasted one from the blue line to tie the game. For the second consecutive game, the Preds played overtime.
Just like the last game, overtime did not last long. Each team had one shift with the puck, but when Forsberg got control he took matters into his own hands. He skated down the right side and scored from a tough angle to win the game. Nashville won its fourth consecutive comeback game. What is even more impressive is that Nashville has now won eight in-a-row, tying the franchise record.
— Nashville Predators (@PredsNHL) March 5, 2018
WHERE THEY STAND
In the past, Nashville has been teetering on the brink of first place in the division. Now, on the cusp of their eight-game winning streak, the Preds sit somewhat comfortably in first place with a six-point lead. The team six points behind are the Winnipeg Jets. They are really good, and could retake first place. Behind Winnipeg is where the real separation happens.
Minnesota is in third place with 81 points, a full 12 points behind Nashville. Dallas owns the first wild card spot with 79 points, and the Los Angeles Kings have the second spot with 77.
Colorado and the St. Louis Blues are close on their tail with 76 and 75 points, respectively. St. Louis has been on a downward spiral, whereas Colorado is on an uptick. Regardless, both teams can still make the playoffs, but every game matters at this point in the season. Rounding out the division are the Chicago Blackhawks. They have a measly 64 points and have virtually no chance at making the playoffs.
Nashville will return home for three-straight home games this week. It will be a welcome sight to be back in front of their home crowd. However, the games will not get any easier. On Tuesday they have a central division match-up against the Dallas Stars, a team still very much fighting for playoff position.
Then on Thursday, Nashville welcomes the Anaheim Ducks to town. The Ducks are another team battling for playoff position, and considering the history between these two, it will sure to be a demanding and physical game. The final game of the week is on Saturday against the New Jersey Devils. Just like the previous two, the Devils are barely holding onto a playoff spot. Every point matters for them, so they will give Nashville everything they have.
Tuesday (3/6) vs. Dallas Stars: 8 PM EST
Thursday (3/8) vs. Anaheim Ducks: 8 PM EST
Saturday (3/10) vs. New Jersey Devils: 8 PM EST
THREE STARS OF THE WEEK:
THIRD STAR: ROMAN JOSI
Josi did not have a huge impact last week, in fact he only played in two of the four games. At first he was listed as resting, but then it was changed to a lower-body injury. Regardless, it does not appear to be too serious. Furthermore, even though he only played in two games last week, he tallied five assists in the win against Winnipeg. That is an absurd number and it just shows that when the Preds need someone to step up, the captain will always be there.
SECOND STAR: RYAN ELLIS
Ellis had one hell of a week, especially in the final two games. He finished the week with two goals and three assists. What makes those points even more special is that his two goals were both game-tying goals in the final minutes of back-to-back games. Then, two of his three assists were assists that led to the game winners in overtime. It was an unreal week from Ellis and it appears he is completely back in form following his injury
FIRST STAR: VIKTOR ARVIDSSON
It has become pretty commonplace to find Arvidsson on the top three stars of the week now. If he does not make it, something is wrong with him. He is always the hardest worker on the ice, no matter who is out there, and that accounts for much of his production. He finished the week with two goals and five assists. His two goals were the game-tying and game-winning goals against Edmonton. He is everywhere on the ice, and there is no telling where this team would be without him.