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2015-16 Top Games Countdown: No. 1

by Thomas Willis / Nashville Predators

April 7: Coyotes vs. Predators

Oh how quickly things can change.

In front of a sellout crowd on Fan Appreciation night, the Nashville Predators regular-season home finale went from despair to jubilation in record-setting fashion.

Down by a goal to the Arizona Coyotes in the final seconds of regulation and with Pekka Rinne off for an extra attacker, Roman Josi cut toward the middle and flicked a shot on net that Filip Forsberg deflected home with 19 ticks left. The game now tied, Predators fans barely had time to breathe a sigh of relief before Josi gave Nashville the outright victory. The 26-year-old blueliner erased six months of overtime frustration with his incredible effort, scoring only 20 seconds into the extra session.

In the first season of the NHL’s new 3-on-3 overtime, the Predators reached home game No. 41 of 41 without a win on their own ice in the maximum five-minute session. That is until Josi cut past two Coyotes’ d-men and tucked the puck behind Mike Smith for a 3-2 overtime triumph. A span of 40 seconds encapsulated a seemingly sure regulation loss that instead was destined to be a historic overtime victory.

“You want to get a win on your last home game,” Josi said. “Our fans have been so great to us this whole year. They definitely deserved the win.”

And who’s to say what the 3-on-3 overtime win did psychologically for the Predators going forward? After all, they did end up going undefeated (2-0-0) in overtime during the postseason, a stretch that saw them claim a triple overtime victory over the San Jose Sharks in Game Four of Round Two.

Check back next weekend for our comprehensive top playoff games post!

Golden Goal:

After receiving the puck near the blue line, Roman Josi isn’t daunted when faced with two Coyotes defenders between him and the net. The Swiss d-man cuts past one Arizona blueliner, and then holds off another, on his way to beating goaltender Mike Smith to the far post and scoring the Preds’ first 3-on-3 overtime goal at Bridgestone Arena in franchise history.

A Flair for the Dramatic:

Filip Forsberg tied it, and Roman Josi ended it.

The Nashville Predators rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the third period to beat the Arizona Coyotes 3-2 in overtime in the final home game of the 2015-16 regular season. On a night when the Preds set a franchise attendance record, they gave their fans something to cheer about.

“You want to feel good about the way you played, and I thought we played well through the first 40 minutes,” Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. “The fact that the guys kept with it and didn’t get frustrated and continued to push in the third period, and we were able to get one, get one late and then the overtime goal, it was a really good comeback. I thought it was a strong 60 minutes.”

Antoine Vermette gave the Coyotes a 1-0 lead in the first period, and Shane Doan doubled that lead for Arizona by the time the middle frame had concluded. Nashville had 18 shots through the first two periods, with Mike Smith making a number of key stops.

On a power play in the final stanza, former Preds Captain Shea Weber tallied his 20th marker of the season to bring the Preds to within one goal. The tally was Weber’s 14th of the season on the man advantage, tying him with Paul Kariya and Andy Delmore for the franchise’s single-season record for power-play goals.

Then, with 19 seconds remaining in regulation and Pekka Rinne pulled for the extra attacker, Forsberg tipped a Roman Josi shot through the legs of Smith to even the contest 2-2.

Once overtime commenced, Josi didn’t waste much time, depositing the winner just 20 seconds into the extra frame to give Nashville their 41st win of the season and 96 points to close out the home schedule.

Shirts Off Our Back:

The Preds were able to celebrate their dramatic comeback - only moments after Roman Josi’s goal - when they participated in the Smashville tradition of giving away their game-worn jersey from the home finale.

Gifs of the Game:

Winger Filip Forsberg dances around the Coyotes’ net following his deflection which both tied the game in the final minute and matched the franchise’s single-season goal record at 33.

Quotables:

Peter Laviolette on the support from Preds fans:

“We’re excited for the playoffs, and I’m sure the fans are too. We appreciate the energy that they bring to our building. We feel like it’s one of the greatest places to play in the National Hockey League because the energy that’s in here, it’s downtown, it’s in our building and our fans bring that. Our players and our organization are so appreciative of that, and I know it’s going to get ramped up pretty good in the playoffs. We’re looking forward to it.”

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