MVP Sports Channel

Scoresberg On Fire, Preds’ Best Hockey of Season

Hi, Everyone…. and welcome back to the Zone!

It was the final week of February, and the Nashville Predators had a full slate of games at hand—every one more important than the last, so let’s get right to it.

On Saturday afternoon, the Predators attempted to keep the momentum from last week going, as they hosted Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals, led by former Preds’ coach Barry Trotz.  Juuse Saros got the start in goal for this matchup with the league-leading Caps. It was shell-shock time when less than a minute after the puck dropped, Washington got on the board with a goal on the very first shot of the game. Early in the 2nd, Defenseman Roman Josi evened the score at 1. Then Nashville took the lead on a goal by Filip Forsberg, followed by a power play goal by Captain Mike Fisher….3-1, Nashville! In the 3rd period, the Predators took absolute control of the game and went ahead 4-1 on a power play goal by Josi, his second of the game. The Caps responded with one more goal with about 3 minutes remaining, but our guys were able to score once more as Viktor Arvidsson put in an empty-netter to end the game 5-2. It was a huge victory and 2 points for the Preds, who took down one of the league’s best teams….Woohoo!

Fast forward 24 hours and the Preds were back on the ice at Bridgestone Arena facing Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers. It was Pekka Rinne between the pipes for Nashville.  Scoring got underway in a hurry as the Oilers picked up a penalty early, and Ryan Ellis made them pay with his 10th goal of the year around 5 minutes in. Then less than a minute later, McDavid broke away and buried one behind Rinne in the Nashville net to tie the game at 1. About 10 minutes later, Filip Forsberg, who is absolutely on fire right now with 8 goals in the last 4 games, scored another power play goal on a super-amazing backhand pass from James Neal….2-1 Preds! About 8 minutes into the 2nd, Vern Fiddler (newly returned to the Preds) made his mark with a beauty of a shot getting past Oilers’ goalie Cam Talbot to give Nashville a 3-1 lead. The Oilers pulled to within one with about 6 minutes left in the period on a power play goal. Shortly afterward, Colin Wilson put a shot on goal that was waved off, but was reviewed and called a good goal…4-2, Preds! But the boys from Edmonton were not going away; they lit the lamp behind Rinne with about 3 minutes remaining in the period to keep the scoring going, and with a minute left, they tied the game 4-4 with yet another goal to end the 2nd period. Less than 2 minutes into the final period, Viktor Arvidsson notched his 21st goal of the season, a power play goal to give Nashville back the lead 5-4. It was high drama for the remainder of the game, and both teams left it all on the ice, but the Preds were able to hang on for the huge win!

On Tuesday evening, Nashville traveled to Buffalo for the first of two road games. The Sabres brought in a record of 17-18-6, and provided a good opportunity for the Preds to pick up 2 more very important points. Pekka Rinne got the start in goal for our guys in gold. The Sabres got on the board first with a shot from behind the net that ricocheted off Rinne’s back and into the net.  Then only a minute or so later, they put back a rebound to go ahead 2-zip! But the Preds dug in their heels; Mike Fisher found the Sabres’ goaltender a bit out of position and scooped in his 16th goal of the year….a huge one for the Preds. The teams headed to the locker rooms for the 1st intermission with Buffalo ahead in the shot count 16-7, and ahead on the scoreboard 2-1. Early in the 2nd, Colin Wilson found himself wide open in front of the Sabres’ goal and lit the lamp with his 11th goal this season to tie the game at 2. Then Buffalo got a 2-on-1 down ice against P. K. Subban, who was not able to help Rinne…and BOOM, they re-took the lead 3-2. Only a few seconds into the 3rd, the Sabres sneaked a rebound shot by Rinne to extend their lead to 4-2, so the Predators had some catching up to do. They brought it to within one with about 9 minutes left on a blast by Ryan Johansen. As time wound down, Nashville had taken over the lead on the shot count 37-26 by putting the puck toward the net every single chance they got. With less than 2 ½ minutes left in regulation, Filip Forsberg picked off a pass and defiantly sent a quick wrist shot straight into the net to tie the game 4-4, continuing his streak with his 9th goal in the last 6 games. We were headed to overtime, but not before the Predators committed a boarding infraction which would give Buffalo a power play in the OT…ugh! It would require amazing play on the part of the Preds’ penalty kill unit in overtime with 4-on-3. Rinne was tested again and again during the Sabres’ power play, but he stood tall. The Preds killed off the penalty and made it back to full strength. Then, (wait for it)…….Forsberg grabbed a rebound from the net, took it all the way the length of the ice, and sailed another wrister into the Sabres’ goal to win the game for Nashville 5-4!

“Scoresberg” left everyone amazed with his 6-game point streak, 10 goals and 4 assists including 2 game-winning goals in the last 6 games, and ends February with 11 goals for the month…..the most in the NHL……Awesome!

On Thursday night, the Predators traveled to Montreal to face Shea Weber and the Canadians. It was P.K. Subban’s first time back to his old teams’ arena since the massive trade of he and Weber last summer. As expected, the Canadians’ organization and its fans gave P. K. an emotional pre-game tribute that showed how very much he is held in esteem by them, and how much he is missed. Nashville started Pekka Rinne in goal, and were hoping for the emotion and momentum from the last few games to spill over into their level of play. It was so far, so good in the opening period as neither team got on the board until only a minute and a half remained. With the Preds on a power play, Ryan Ellis found the back of the Montreal net to give Nashville a 1-0 lead at the 1st intermission. In the 2nd, much to the disappointment of Preds’ fans, Ellis left the game with an unknown injury and did not return—-(fingers crossed that it would not be too serious.) The period saw a couple of penalties killed off, but no score from either team. The 3rd period began similarly, with no score until with about 9 minutes remaining, Montreal got one past Rinne to tie the game. And then—the heartbreak. With 8.3 seconds left, the Canadians took a loose puck down ice and sailed it in, to come from behind and steal the game right from underneath the Predators. It was a disappointing loss for our guys, having held on to the lead for so much of the game, only to see it slip away at the very last second and cause them to head home empty-handed of points.

The week was pretty successful overall for Nashville. They were 3 for 4, and were playing some of their best hockey of the year. As we move into March and see the final 18 games of the season looming ahead, it is clear that our team must keep their focus and bring home points consistently. This is when things start to really get exciting…….be sure to stay tuned!

Go, Preds!

NashvilleDebra Murray is a weekly contributing writer for MVP Sports Channel (and die-hard fan of the Nashville Predators). 

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