Waking up around 5 a.m. CT to fly from Nashville to Denver wasn't ideal, but the Predators still got the job done.
Nashville scored three unanswered goals and came back to beat the Colorado Avalanche by a 3-2 final at Pepsi Center on Saturday afternoon and earned their third consecutive victory and fourth of the season against the Avs.
The Preds had intended to depart Nashville on Friday afternoon, but mechanical issues with their aircraft forced them to fly the day of the game. But in the end, it didn't matter.
"Talking about two gutsy wins at home, this one was the gutsiest of all of them," Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. "Because of the circumstance that we had to overcome; I thought our guys played terrific."
Video: Preds score two in 3rd period for road comeback win
The Predators could've used flying from Nashville at 7 a.m. CT to arrive in Colorado in time for a 1 p.m. MT puck drop as an excuse. They could've complained about the altitude affecting their stamina. Perhaps it could've been the depleted blue line, missing both P.K. Subban and Roman Josi as a reason for a loss.
But instead, they put their heads down and recorded their fourth victory of the season over the Avalanche and kick off a five-game trip with a come-from-behind victory for a very important two points.
"Before the game, we talked about not having any excuses," goaltender Pekka Rinne said. "It was a tough, long day for us, just leaving in the morning and our plans kind of getting [messed up]… It was extremely big win for us. This is our playoff time already, we have to get back in the picture and I can't remember the last time we had a three-game winning streak, so it feels good."
"It's hard, the guys probably had to get up at 5:45 this morning, you're out of sync and everything's out of sync," Laviolette said. "We're such creatures of habit here, so much routine that goes on in the NHL on how we move and how we breathe, just day after day the same thing. This one is like OK, this is a whole new ballgame here, so our guys handled it really well."
Video: NSH@COL: McLeod scores vs. Avs one day after trade
Welcome to the Club:
It didn't take long for Cody McLeod to show what he's capable of doing for the Predators.
Acquired on Friday from Colorado, McLeod suited up against his former team just more than 24 hours after the deal, and at 7:52 of the second period, he found the back of the net. Courtesy of a perfect feed from Harry Zolnierczyk, McLeod drove to the net and steered the puck past Semyon Varlamov for Nashville's first of the afternoon and McLeod's first with his new club.
Add that to a fight with Jarome Iginla, as well as 2:46 on the power play and a season-high 10:12 of ice time, it was an eventful afternoon for the veteran winger.
"It's been kind of a whirlwind the last few hours, but I'm pumped to be here," McLeod said. "I guess no better than getting it against your old team."
"He's just a hard-working guy that hits and fights and goes to the net; that's a real good snapshot of who he is," Laviolette said. "You saw it today. It's always difficult when you come to a new team and new surroundings, so for him to have a big game like that, I'm happy for him and it's special."
Rinne echoed the sentiment from his coach and couldn't be happier to have McLeod in a Predators jersey.
"Without any practice or anything, he did a really good job," Rinne said. "Cody, huge goal by him, had a big scrap with Iginla too and he was a huge spark for our team. It's just a nice to have him with us now."
James Neal returned to the lineup after missing the previous five games with an upper-body injury.
Harry Zolnierczyk and Derek Grant recorded assists on Cody McLeod's goal, marking the first point in a Preds jersey for all three players.
Prior to Saturday's game, the Preds recalled defenseman Petter Granberg from Milwaukee and assigned forward Pontus Aberg to the Admirals.
The Predators now head to Western Canada to prepare for a matchup on Tuesday with the Vancouver Canucks as their five-game road trip continues into next week.