Nashville’s first period on Thursday night was the stuff that nightmares are made of.
After Mike Fisher scored a goal at 12:29 of the first to put the Predators up 1-0 over the Blue Jackets, Columbus’ Jeff Carter answered right back with a goal at 12:56. A 5 minute interference major by Nashville’s Brian McGrattan left the Blue Jackets on a 5 minute power play, one in which they registered three power play goals – a Bridgestone Arena single period opponent record.
The two teams swapped a goal in the early second period to make the Columbus lead 5-2. When all hope seemed loss, the line of Jordin Tootoo, Nick Spaling and Colin Wilson came on the ice.
“Tootoo had to protect the puck down low,” Nashville defenseman Roman Josi, who was also on the ice, described the play. “Then we had a penalty – the ref had his hand up. Wilson made a good play to Spaling and he hit the empty net. It was a good play by Spaling, Tootoo and Wilson.”
With the lead down to two, it was Josi’s turn to become the hero, tweezing the puck into the twine behind Columbus netminder Curtis Sanford, putting the Predators squarely back in the game.
“I know Bouillon had it on the point and I was pretty open,” Josi said. “I asked for the puck and he gave me a nice pass. I tried to get it to the net and with a little luck it went in.”
In a game so squarely dominated by Columbus in the first period, no one could have blamed Nashville if they pulled Pekka Rinne and started looking forward to Friday night’s game in Dallas. However, the Predators stuck with it and kept digging. Three more goals came Nashville’s way, with Martin Erat’s game-winner with 8.4 seconds left in regulation serving as the night’s denouement.
“They were up 4-1, but there was a lot of hockey left,” Josi said. “We had over two periods to go and we knew we could come back. And so we did.”
Josi, however, felt that the team’s momentum shifted upon Spaling’s goal, not his own.
“First of all, the momentum probably shifted to their side when we scored and then they scored back right away,” Josi said. “They got a couple of power play goals, but the goal from Spaling did it. It shifted momentum. They got another one on a weird bounce, but we stayed with it for the whole game. We knew we could win the game and we did.”
Despite a clearly draining game and victory, Josi believes the team will remain emotionally neutral and does not foresee Nashville falling into a trap for Friday night’s game at Dallas.
“Every game is hard,” Josi said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re down or up. We have a lot of back-to-backs, so we’re going to be fine tomorrow.”
“That’s a great win for us,” Josi continued. “Those wins feel really good because you’re down and you stay with it. You feel really good after, so you try to keep the momentum for tomorrow’s game.”