Photo Credit: John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images
Trying to claw their way back after a road trip that saw them go 1-4 in 5 games, Nashville started off a 4-game homestand on Thursday with a 5-3 win against the Calgary Flames. With the Columbus Blue Jackets in town, and losing to them only 4 nights ago in Columbus, the Predators needed to get off to a hot start to take down a team who was 8-0-4 in their previous 12 games.
So much for a hot start. How about a franchise-best start?
Nashville recorded 4 goals in a span of 3:04, a new franchise record for fastest four goals, in the first period to help take down the streaking Blue Jackets 5-2 in front of the 27th straight sellout crowd at Bridgestone Arena. 2 of those goals came from the newly formed line of Gabriel Bourque, Taylor Beck, and David Legwand.
In only a span of 2:35 seconds, the Bourque/Beck/Legwand line would put 2 of the first 3 goals past Bobrovsky en route to a four goal first period. Taylor Beck, fed from Gabriel Bourque and Jon Blum, would score his first career NHL goal at 7:11 of the first while David Legwand, after Columbus had scored on the powerplay to cut Nashville’s lead to 2-1, would be fed from Bourque and Beck and deposited his 7th goal of the season at 9:46 to make it a 3-1 game.
“I think when everything is going right, the puck goes in everytime. A lot of games we have some goal scoring chances that don’t go in and tonight every puck was going in,” said Nashville forward Gabriel Bourque.
Bourque, one of Nashville’s leading point scorers now with 14 points on the season, finished the game with 2 assists and a +1 on the night. While the players celebrated a hard-fought 5-2 win against a division rival, tonight’s game served as more of a stepping stone towards the final stretch.
“We have to start like that every game, especially against a team like that, they have a good streak going. We have to come hard and be ready, we’re competing for a playoff spot. We did a really good job tonight,” said Bourque.
With Legwand/Bourque/Beck contributing for a third of all points registered by Predators players tonight, it would be highly beneficial for Nashville if that line success continued. The team is in dire need for consistent offensive contributions, so finding a line combination that works could help give Nashville that boost they need down the final furlong of the regular season.
Legwand, who has 4 points (2g/2a) in his previous 6 games, and Bourque, who has 5 points (2g/3a) in his previous 6 games, may have found a permanent linemate in Taylor Beck, who collected his first two NHL points tonight. What’s crucial, though, is this line continues to produce if given more time together. Nashville will have another test on Monday night against a reeling Edmonton Oilers team that handed the Predators a loss less than a week ago.
“I think when you win a couple after a not very good road trip, you put things in perspective. We’re trying to dig ourselves out of that road trip. The most important game is the next game,” said Coach Barry Trotz. “We have to do some good work on Monday because it’s a very dangerous game and a very good team in Edmonton.”
With three games next week (Monday vs Edmonton, Thursday vs Phoenix, Saturday at Colorado), the Predators will find out where their fate truly lies in the Western Conference. A productive week could help the outlook overall for Nashville, especially with 3 games against the Western Conference leading Chicago Blackhawks in the following week after that.