On Saturday night, the Nashville Predators defeated the Chicago Blackhawks to claim their 11th win at Bridgestone Arena in the last 13 games.
Nashville forward Patric Hornqvist had the second assist on the game-winner and tacked on a goal of his own off of a tip-in in the third period.
“I thought we came out really, really good and played really strong in the first,” Hornqvist said. “We got the power play goal and then in the second period, we just kept going.”
Nashville gave up an early goal to Chicago’s Marian Hossa, but, as Hornqvist mentioned, Craig Smith put Nashville on the board two minutes later with a power play tally. Most importantly, the Predators allowed Chicago only two first period shots – the fewest of any opponent this season.
After surviving the first, Nashville ran out to a 4-1 lead at the end of the second period and finished with the 5-2 win.
“We played 60 minutes and we were really hard on the puck,” Hornqvist said. “We didn’t give them time and space. We know they have a skilled team, so we always have to be in their face and we did a really good job about that. Of course Pekka played really good back there and we got some goals, too. It was a big team effort for us.”
Prior to December 10, the Predators had a 4-5-3 record at home. The 33.3% home winning percentage was the worst in the league at the time. However, on December 10, Nashville managed a convincing win against the Anaheim Ducks and have reeled off 11 wins in the last 13, including streaks of 5 and the current streak of 4. Their recent run has rocketed them to a 15-7-3 home record, 6th best in the NHL (though only 4th best in the loaded Central Division).
“Our starts at home have been really good this year,” Hornqvist said. “We always come out flying and get the momentum right away and everyone gets right into it.”
In those 11 wins, the Predators have scored first 6 times and have 8 first period goals. They scored 34 total goals in those wins. In addition, while their opponents have scored 9 goals in the first period, most of that data is skewed by the 4 goals that the Columbus Blue Jackets scored in the first period on December 22. Considering that the Preds have been outscored 37-29 in games outside of those 11 wins, one can understand Hornqvist’s point. By staying in the game in the first period, the Predators are able to build momentum as the game goes along.
“I thought we played really strong,” Hornqvist said. “We played simple, we played hard and everyone’s going here.”
However, Hornqvist was quick to point out another factor in the recent home success.
“Of course, we have the best goalie in the league and it’s always nice to have him back there,” Hornqvist said. “He’s saved us a couple of times.”