F ifteen times this season, the Nashville Predators’ opponents had registered the first goal of the game.
In 14 of those 15 times, the Predators lost. The team’s only win of the season in which they trailed first was their first victory against the Minnesota Wild.
Since that win in the team’s third game, they had lost 14 straight games in which their opponent scored first.
For a team that for years prided themselves on resiliency, the trend was disconcerting at best.
On Thursday night at Bridgestone Arena it happened again – the Mark Giordano scored shorthanded at 5:01 of the first period to put the Flames up 1-0.
While the Predators tied the game later in the period, the Flames scored yet another shorthanded goal to take a 2-1 lead.
One shorthanded goal is devastating, two is practically a backbreaker…yet Mike Fisher scored at 18:09 to tie the game at 2 headed into the intermission.
“It was one of those things where we showed great resilience with two shorthanded goals against,” Nashville defenseman Kevin Klein said. “We really could have gotten down on ourselves, but we didn’t.”
“I was more impressed with the way we didn’t go into a shell when we ran into a little bad luck,” Nashville head coach Barry Trotz said. “We had a good, positive spirit.”
In the second period, Fisher scored again to give Nashville a 3-2 lead – and they maintained the lead for the remainder of the game as they pulled off the 5-3 win.
The win not only ended the Predators’ streak of 14 losses after giving up the first goal, it also ended the team’s 4 game losing streak.
“We did a great job just battling,” Klein said. “A lot of times we’ve been down on ourselves especially with this losing streak and you can’t be. You just have to let it be and go about your business and I thought we did a great job tonight.”
“I thought we didn’t panic and showed a lot of maturity and poise,” Trotz said. “To me, that was the most impressive thing.”
Predators Trailing First – 2013
For a team that was dangerously close to the Western Conference cellar, the win pushes the Predators back to within 2 points of the final playoff spot with 17 games left to play.
“We know we have a great home record for the most part and we needed to take advantage of that,” Klein said. “With 11 of the last 17 at home, we have a good opportunity to turn it on and make a push for the playoffs. We need that good effort every night, no matter what bounces and what happens during the game. I think we can learn a lot from tonight.”
The team has won 12 games along the way, but Thursday’s win was a bit different. In a way, it was more “Predator-like”. With goals coming from Brandon Yip, Martin Erat, Mike Fisher and Nick Spaling, offense was being generated from almost every line – a rarity this season, but a trademark of past Nashville teams.
“We stayed with it and got more contributions right through the lineup,” Trotz said. “That sounded more like the Predators.”
“It was a good character win by us tonight,” Klein said.
Photo Credit: Sarah Fuqua