The Nashville Predators collected four out of a possible six points over the course of their road trip to the west coast. They dropped one to the Anaheim Ducks, then responded with two huge wins over the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks.
Against Anaheim: Filip Forsberg (2)
What Happened (Anaheim)
Anaheim dominated the first 50 minutes of the game, but Filip Forsberg sniped two power-play goals at 14:16 and 15:14.
What Happened (Los Angeles)
Viktor Arvidsson snagged his 29th goal of the year on a 2-on-1 breakaway in the first period, but the story of the night was the third line. Nashville scratched the struggling Kyle Turris and bumped Calle Jarnkrok and Colton Sissons to the second line with Craig Smith. The trio put together two goals and an assist and was clearly the most effective line.
What Happened (San Jose)
Colton Sissons scored his second goal in two games within the first minute of the game. The Sharks and Predators traded blows throughout the second and third period, but ultimately, Arvidsson’s two and Forsberg’s one propelled Nashville to victory.
Some Stats For You
The JOFA line grabbed 10 total points over the course of the California road trip- six goals split evenly by Viktor Arvidsson and Filip Forsberg. Arvidsson, who’s only played in 49 games, matched his regular season goal totals with 31, and only needs three more to become the all-time Predators’ regular-season goal scorer.
Colton Sissons is having himself a season. He surpassed both his goal and point totals this year and filled in for the ailing Kyle Turris nicely. Sissons, a third line penalty killer whose offensive capabilities have been smothered, finally got the call-up to the second line and has made the most of it (so far).
Craig Smith will likely be a 20-goal scorer again for the sixth time in his career. He notched his 18th and 19th and is heating up; good timing, too, as the playoffs are coming fast.
Mikael Granlund grabbed two assists against Anaheim and has been skating with Nick Bonino and Wayne Simmonds. The unorthodox second line hasn’t scored together, but are putting together solid shifts- the points will come.
Kyle Turris will be in the lineup again, but the fact that he was scratched is rather surprising. Speaking from a player’s perspective, being pulled from the lineup can be a good thing if the player is overworked, but Turris is still trying to find his legs. Pulling him will not pay dividends as the season winds down.
Filip Forsberg, Nashville’s go-to sniper on the man advantage, would not allow the Predators to be skunked in Anaheim. Considering how he snagged both power-play goals, the Predators might want him to have the puck from now on.
The Predators needed at least four points out of that road trip and got them. While they shouldn’t have lost to Anaheim, the San Jose win was one of the better games they’ve played all year. Once this week of hockey is over, theoretically, it’s smooth sailing to the finish line.
Nashville will host the Toronto Maple Leafs and Pittsburgh Penguins at home, then travel to Winnipeg to face the Jets. I’m not saying this is the best playoff preview for the Predators, but this week is the most defining week of the regular season.
Also, Zac Rinaldo was skating with the team again, and Austin Watson was officially reinstated. The gang is getting back together, (although both players probably won’t play).
–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