Over the course of an 82-game season, it’s not very often that a team can point to one game as a defining moment. For the 2003-04 Nashville Predators, however, it goes back to one November night at the Joe.
The Predators staged one of the most dramatic comebacks in franchise history in the most unlikely of places, rallying from a 3-0 deficit with four scores in the final 20 minutes. It became a 4-3 win in regulation at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, a place where Nashville had posted a record of 1-10-3 in 14 all-time trips up to that point.
The first of four third-period goals came from the stick of Vladimir Orszagh at 6:47, energizing the Nashville attack. The Predators began to funnel players to the net, creating traffic, and Nashville fired a total of 20 shots on Detroit goalie Curtis Joseph in the third. Martin Erat
scored at 11:57, Scott Hartnell tied the game at 16:26 and Scott Walker notched the game-winner, completing the comeback with just 57 seconds remaining.
"It's as well as we've played for a short period – 20 minutes," head coach Barry Trotz said. "That might be our best period for passion, determination and those things. The guys were determined they were going to make something happen."
After a slow start to the season had put the Preds into a 4-8-1 hole, the victory over the Red Wings sparked a run of 10 wins in their next 12 games and vaulted Nashville towards the first playoff berth in franchise history.
"We came out and played an unbelievable period," goaltender Tomas Vokoun said. "It just shows that we have it in us."