After two multi-goal losses at Bridgestone Arena, the Nashville Predators came into the Mile-High City and defeated the Colorado Avalanche 4-1. Nashville widened the gap between first place and second place, and remain in contention to gain control of first place in the Central Division.
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Preceding the 5-1 loss against Winnipeg, the Ryan Johansen suspension and the 4-2 loss against Florida, Colton Sissons manned the first line center spot, pairing with Viktor Arvidsson and Filip Forsberg. It made a world of difference for the two wingers.
Nick Bonino grabbed Nashville’s first goal at 5:01 in the second period on a seemingly innocent wrist shot. Intercepting a pass at the Colorado blueline, Calle Jarnkrok dropped the puck off to Bonino who simply threw the puck on net. Viktor Arvidsson wrapped home his 19th goal of the year at 6:35, and the Predators had a two goal lead.
Former Nashville Predator Sam Girard all but scored Colorado’s lone goal at 16:47. Creatively skating through the Nashville defense, he found Alexander Kerfoot in the low slot and pulled the Avalanche back to within one. Roman Josi buried his eighth of the year at 17:58 on a give-and-go from Austin Watson, and Nashville never let up.
Once Ryan Ellis sniped a 200-foot empty-netter, Nashville left Colorado with a crucial two
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Nick Bonino has recorded seven points in the last five games, including four in the last two. He’s been a key source of offense for Nashville, and it comes at a good time as Mattias Ekholm and Roman Josi are finally starting to cool off.
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Speaking of Roman Josi, he ended a 16 goal drought with his second-period tally. Josi sits third on the team in terms of points production and leads the team in shots-on-goal with 182. The Captain has subtly picked up assists and lsits behind Ryan Johansen and Mattias Ekholm.
P.K. Subban has been quiet offensively lately. Only one point in the last five games and five points in the last 14 games is majorly uncharacteristic of him.
Austin Watson has five points, including three assists, in the last four games. He’s also racked up some penalty minutes with 17 total minutes in the last five games. The Toothless Wonder is heating up again.
Regardless of how the Predators played in front of Pekka Rinne, they grabbed a win from a tough Central Division opponent. At this point, they shouldn’t try to do anything different and continue to improve their strengths.
Here’s what that means: Nashville’s defensemen would rather pinch along the boards instead of pulling back and protecting their goaltender. An improvement on that- control the puck better, and make more intentional passes below the circles instead of cycling the puck. Defensemen are called to take shots? Create more traffic in front of the net.
What made the Predators so effective the last two years was their ability to limit shots on Rinne and Juuse Saros, and light opposing goaltenders up. They played with the purpose of making other teams uncomfortable with relentless. There have been flashes of that this year, but finding a true rhythm has been a quandary.
This team is not inconsistent. H
Nashville was desperate for a win after dropping back to back games to the Winnipeg Jets and the Florida Panthers. Thankfully, they were able to piece together timely goals and Pekka Rinne came through. They have a chance to tie the division before all teams go to the All-Star Break.
The Dallas Stars beat the Winnipeg Jets 4-2, and Winnipeg will not play until January 28th. With 64 points in 48 games, the Jets have control of the Central Division. Nashville will play the Vegas Golden Knights on January 23rd. They currently sit on 62 points through 51 games.
Perhaps a weekend off will do this team some good.
Also, Viktor Arvidsson has 11 goals since returning 14 games ago, and now leads Nashville in goals.
-Jack Woods covers the Nashville Predators and the Central Division for PenaltyBoxRadio.com and FullPressCoverage.com. You can follow Jack on Twitter at @jack_woods15 and the Full Press Predators at @FPC_Predators