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With 15 games remaining in the regular season and the Predators battling for every point they can grab, Nashville is hoping that the friendly confides of Bridgestone Arena can help them on their quest for their 8th playoff birth in the past 9 seasons. Winning three in a row will certainly help their cause.
The Predators allowed the first goal for the second time in the past three games, but found a way to come back and win the game as they scored a 3-2 win against the reeling Edmonton Oilers on a rare Monday night tilt in Nashville.
Scoring 13 goals in the past three games while allowing only 7, the Predators are finding themselves in a seam they’ve been searching for all season. Discovering a positive level of consistency, it’s helping Nashville push through the tough stretches and find ways to win instead of lose.
“The guys are doing a great job mentally staying in it, not giving up on anything, and playing as a unit. When you do those things, good things happen,” said Predators defenseman Kevin Klein.
Offensive outputs haven’t been the Predators problem recently, as they’ve scored 29 goals in the previous 8 games. However, it’s been the defensive end of the puck that has been the big bugaboo for Nashville, allowing 20 goals in a stretch of 4 losses prior to their new 3-game winning streak.
“Everyone’s talking about ‘hey you’re scoring some goals, that’s great,’ but our overall defensive game has been much better. Our first two periods, I was going ‘[the Oilers] didn’t have anything,’ other than their powerplay they only had 3 scoring chances,” said head coach Barry Trotz. “Third period, we got in a little bit of penalty trouble and they were coming pretty hard, we were doubling up on a number of their top players. They got us on our heels and we come up with a couple of big penalty kills and [Rinne] makes a couple of big saves, which he always does for us every night.”
With 9 of their last 15 at home, the Predators find themselves in a familiar location that has brought them plenty of success in the past.
“It’s nice to be at home a little bit, feed off the crowd. We’ve come out at the start of the game, which we haven’t in the past this year, it’s nice to get a lead and hold on to it. I think the guys are doing a good job overall battling,” said Klein.
Yet, it all comes down to consistency. Nashville hasn’t been able to really find any true level of consistency all season. However, no matter when and if it has already decided to click, the Predators will ride it for as long as they have it.
“It’s very important. If our line is going to produce, it’s going to help our team more. All of the lines are playing very well. If we’re going to produce, we’re going to help the team to win,” said Predators forward Sergei Kostitsyn, who finished the night with a goal and an assist.
The Los Angeles Kings found their confidence and consistency late last season and took it all the way to their franchise-first Stanley Cup championship. Whether this current win streak and level of play is what Nashville has been searching for all season long or not, the Predators are taking advantage of their situation in the best way they can: clawing back up the Western Conference standings.