The Predators have only four more games away from Nashville. On top of this, they've now won two of their last three, and seem to have their darker times in the rearview mirror.
Thursday's game was a weird one. When these two teams played last year, they combined for 14 goals in four games during the regular season. On top of that, they only scored five goals in the second period. On Thursday, both combined for six goals in the second frame.
Still, Nashville can't seem to find balance in its game. Coach Barry Trotz thought they had found their defensive identity by allowing two goals in the previous two games. That all went out the window Thursday.
The Predators are looking at their next game against the Buffalo Sabres at home Saturday like a road game. Often, those games after a long trip feel like the final road contest. The last time Nashville was in a similar situation, they lost in overtime at home against Montreal.
RW Jordin Tootoo didn't score the game-winner. He didn't even score the game-tying goal. But his score late in the second period gave the Predators the necessary momentum to get Nashville back in the game. Tootoo took a feed from LW Matt Halischuk and buried it past G Roberto Luongo to make it 5-4.
"We knew (Luongo's) confidence level was probably not at its highest, so we wanted to get pucks to the net and get to those second and third chances," Tootoo said. "Fortunately, we got a good bounce there and got us a goal."
Out of the four goalies who played in Thursday's game, Predators backup G Anders Lindback may have been the best. In relief of G Pekka Rinne, Lindback picked up the victory by stopping all 19 Vancouver shots in 28:37.
"They're a very offensive, skilled team, so they shoot a lot, but I think guys did a really good job of letting me handle the first pucks and taking away the rebounds," Lindback said. "That's always nice to get a few (shots) right away and get a confidence boost, and get warm and start to feel the pucks."
Nashville hopes a two-goal outing by C Mike Fisher can get him back on the right track. Fisher has been slowed by offseason shoulder surgery and a late-Oct. concussion. One of Fisher's scores was the game-winner.
"Fish had a real good start when he came back, then he sort of dried up," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "Hopefully he gets on a little bit of a roll."
LW Sergei Kostitsyn sat with what Nashville coach Barry Trotz called an "upper body" injury, suffered at Calgary. Kostitsyn has just three points in his previous 11 games.
G Pekka Rinne has been pulled twice since Nov. 22. He allowed five goals on just 18 shots Thursday before being yanked in the second period.
C Craig Smith continued his prolific scoring ways and furthered his team leading point total. Smith now has 20 points in 25 games, also good for second amongst all rookie scorers.
D Teemu Laakso (cyst removed) is out indefinitely.
D Francis Bouillon (groin) is out at least the next game.
C Blake Geoffrion (upper body) is out at least one week.
LW Sergei Kostitsyn (upper body) could return Saturday against Buffalo
QUOTE TO NOTE
"I don't think anybody expected that out of this game. The way we've played in the past, it has always been a low-scoring, tight-checking game." -- D Shea Weber, on Thursday's 6-5 win over the Canucks.