Photo Credit: AP Photo/Mark Humphrey
For two games in a row, Nashville has found themselves behind the proverbial eight-ball in the third period. For two games in a row, Nashville has dug out of the hole they built and found a way to string points together. This time, though, with a more positive outcome.
After tying the game on a review-standing powerplay goal by Patric Hörnqvist, Nashville added a game-winning goal by David Legwand with 1:14 left in regulation and an empty netter by Paul Gaustad a minute later to collect a 3-1 win against the Colorado Avalanche.
It seemed like after the “revival” against the Blackhawks last night in Chicago, Nashville would be able to take that momentum and stretch it into tonight’s game against the Avalanche. While the chances and, more importantly, shots were on the board against Colorado, the scoreboard remained knotted at zero through two periods.
The Predators have only one regulation loss in their past seven games, going 4-1-2 and collecting points in three straight, however will they collect enough points in the end to grant them entrance into the Stanley Cup Playoffs?
“You need every point you can get now. We have 11 games left, or something, and we need every point we can get. That’s huge for us. We have to keep battling, we have home games, and we need to win those,” said Predators forward David Legwand. “Every year you want a crack at [the playoffs]. You only get so many cracks at it. You hear guys who, when they’re done playing, say they didn’t have a crack at it. You want to play every game to have that chance, to play in the playoffs.”
With Nashville now having played the most games in the Western Conference (37) and every team with at least one game in hand, the Predators know they must savor each point they collect coming down the stretch.
“There are a few teams that have games in hand and it’s an extremely tight situation in the standings. We all realize that and we all realize how big these points are. As of late, at least we’re getting points,” said Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne. “Not always getting two points, but we’re still being consistent with the points as of late. It’s been helping that we’ve been playing at home, so that makes things a bit easier.”
Scoring two goals in the third period last night against Chicago, three goals in the third tonight against Colorado, but zero goals in the seven cumulatively remaining periods and two overtime periods of the previous three games doesn’t necessarily bode well for the Predators. Yet, if the passion and attitude that the team has exuded when battling back over the past two nights continues down the stretch? Teams are going to find it very hard to shut the door on the Predators.
“We’re a team that never gives up and we really showed it tonight, and last night in Chicago too. We were down two goals last night and come back. Obviously we didn’t get the win, but we got a point and we were there in the end too. Tonight, they scored the first goal, but other than that they didn’t keep us down,” said Predators forward Patric Hörnqvist. “We were working hard, we know we’re going to have a chance to win the game with [Pekka] back there. Obivously we get some lucky bounces, but we worked really hard for them too.”
There are only 11 games remaining for Nashville, seven of them at home. It would be incorrect to say the Predators don’t have an up-hill climb ahead of them. Nine of the remaining games come against teams who are currently holding a playoff spot or are only one point back. They have their work cut out for them, but it’s going to be a matter of will and want if Nashville hopes to see their eighth playoff birth in the past nine seasons.
“It’s always been important to play in the playoffs, everyone wants a shot. Once you get to the playoffs, there’s only 16 teams left. You gotta be one of the last one standings at the end of it. That’s what everyone wants to do,” said Legwand. “We have no give up in here, no quit in here. Guys are going to keep battling until the end.”