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2015-16 Top Games Countdown: No. 4

by Thomas Willis / Nashville Predators

March 24: Canucks vs. Predators

The opening 51 of 60 regulation minutes in a March matchup versus the Vancouver Canucks seemed to indicate the game was going to be a forgettable performance for the Nashville Predators. Two goals in less than 90 seconds shifted the score from shutout to all square, however, and the Preds sealed the comeback victory in a shootout.

A pair of first-period scores put the Canucks ahead deep into the final frame, where the Predators finally found life. Colin Wilson’s feed from behind the net found James Neal in the slot and the forward sent a shot far post that beat Ryan Miller at 11:56 of the third.

A franchise-record 31st sellout crowd for the 2015-16 regular season then helped to will the home club back into the contest as Filip Forsberg reached around the cage to tie the contest at 2-2. After 30-plus minutes of trailing by multiple goals, Nashville forced overtime with a desperate final push.

“It happens time after time and you try not to take it for granted; it’s a great feeling when the crowd gets behind you, and they really understand when we’re trying to get the momentum going,” goaltender Pekka Rinne said. “Especially after the first goal, they were really behind us. We tied the game and after that, [Vancouver] had nothing. We kept buzzing and they gave us a ton of energy, I totally believe in that. It was a great atmosphere, and so happy we could get the win for the fans, too.”

After a scoreless overtime period was turned in, the game advanced to a shootout where Craig Smith and Ryan Johansen notched two near-perfect moves to complete the rally and give the Preds a 3-2 victory.

We came basically right out of the gate in the third period and just attacked and wanted to get the first goal,” Forsberg said. “[Neal] had a big goal for us, which got the crowd really into it as well. We just built from there, and it was a huge win.”

Check back next weekend for Game No. 3 in our countdown!

Golden Goal:

Craig Smith slows just outside the crease in an effort to out wait Ryan Miller before pushing the puck wide to his forehand and roofing a shot under the crossbar.

Comeback Kids:

Head Coach Peter Laviolette admitted his team’s first period against the Vancouver Canucks wasn’t very good. But then the Preds started pressing. As the chances continued, the energy on the bench, and in the crowd, helped to manifest into two Nashville goals within two minutes of each other in the third period.

When James Neal scored for the Preds at the 11:56 mark of the third period, there was little doubt the next one was coming for Nashville. Filip Forsberg took care of that.

“We talked about it going into the third,” Laviolette said. “It was a quiet night for us, we know that, and it wasn’t typical, but we felt like we were getting better. We have guys in the locker room that really care, and they went out in the third period on a mission to try and find one with the hope that it would lead to another.”

After overtime solved nothing, it was time for Ryan Johansen, Craig Smith and Pekka Rinne to do their job in the shootout. The Preds didn’t like their start in the game, but they sure were satisfied with their finish. It’s been said that they don’t ask how, just how many.

“It’s also a good learning lesson for us because it’s so competitive every night,” Laviolette said. “We’re fortunate we walked away with two points and hopefully we can take just a little bit from the front side of it that we weren’t that good and we have to be prepared.

Gifs of the Game:

Ryan Johansen coasts until he’s nearly in the Vancouver crease before firing a shot over the shoulder of Ryan Miller.


Peter Laviolette on the energy from the sellout crowd:

“It was just loud, it was awesome. We needed that, we really needed it, and the goal was just the starting point. We just needed some more energy and the fans gave us that, and we were able to push through and continue that pace for the rest of the period and into the overtime and shootout.”

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