The Nashville Predators concluded their road trip with a 2-1 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights. The Predators will now have an eight day break, allowing injuries to heal up and goaltenders to rest.

Nashville Key Stats

Goals

Ryan Johansen, Nick Bonino

Assists

Roman Josi, Filip Forsberg, Austin Watson, Ryan Ellis

Vegas Key Stats

Goals

Max Pacioretty

Assists

Alex Tuch, Paul Stastny

What Happened

Things did not look pretty for Nashville. Vegas outshot the Predators 16-8 through the first 15 minutes of the first period, and held a 1-0 lead thanks to Max Pacioretty. At 8:03, wide open in the low slot, he snapped an Alex Tuch pass right over Saros’ outstretched leg. Nashville then came alive, and threw shot after shot at Marc-Andre Fleury.

In the opening minute of the second period, Ryan Johansen finally broke through. Filip Forsberg dished Roman Josi the puck on a two on one chance, and Johansen cleaned up the rebound at 0:52. The offense continued to pressure Fleury, and Bonino slammed home his 14th goal of the year at 3:53. Nashville held onto their lead for the remaining 36:07 minutes of the game, and left Las Vegas with the two points.

The Predators would not have won the game without Juuse Saros. He turned away several shots per period, including eighteen in the first. Saros and the Predators kept the Golden Knights power-play at bay on five opportunites.

Some Stats For You

Juuse “Juice” Saros has seen 147 shots in his last five appearances, and denied 139 shots. With the exception of the Florida Panthers game, he has allowed less than two goals per appearance. He also set a new career save record with 47.

Austin Watson recorded the primary assist on Nick Bonino’s second period goal, which is his fourth assist in five games. The Toothless Wonder only needs six more points to match his season career high.

Speaking of Nick Bonino, he’s scored six goals in seven games. Bones has surpassed his season total from last year, and has undoubtedly come up large for Nashville as of late. He’s currently on pace for 42 points- not bad for a defensive-oriented, third line center.

Ryan Ellis has picked up three points in his last five games. There needs to be more production from him but all in all, he’s still on pace for 37 points, which is only one point less than his season career total. Perhaps the Bearded Treasure will begin his inevitable tear.

Looking Forward

Nashville only had two power plays, but the first unit, featuring Johansen, Forsberg, Arvidsson, Smith, and Josi, had some solid chances. Forsberg rang three shots off the post, and Josi kept the puck in the zone and wore out the Knights’ PK.

Mattias Ekholm spent 26:40 minutes on the ice, the most of any defenseman on the Predators. However, Josi clocked in over two minutes on the power play, and over four minutes on the penalty kill.

This was a bigger win than one might give credit for given how Nashville is taking All-Star weekend off and then the entire work week preceding, the team needed some sort of momentum.

Some players, such as Ryan Ellis and Kevin Fiala, need a mental reset. Both players have played well recently, but some mistakes are still evident. Nashville needs both Ellis and Fiala to start producing more points- that being said, Ellis has played better defense, and Fiala is getting better looks.

Most players in the Nashville lineup are irreplaceable, at least to Nashville. Forget the Arvidsson, Forsberg and Subban injuries- not having Colton Sissons (injured back in December) or Ryan Johansen (most recent suspension) for a couple of games impacted the lineup significantly. Nashville needs all of the pieces together to complete the puzzle.

Also, do you think Pierre Bellemare was jealous P.K. Subban released his new YouTube series? I feel like there was another reason he bit him.

-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

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