After they fell behind to the top team in the Central Division and in a hostile building, the Nashville Predators still found a way to claim two points. Not bad for a grand finale.
Filip Forsberg scored twice in the third, and the Preds defeated the Minnesota Wild by a 4-2 final at Xcel Energy Center on Sunday night. It's Nashville's third consecutive victory, tying a season-high once more, giving the Preds 53 points, good enough to solidify third place in the Central Division. Plus, it came with a milestone in tow.
With the victory, Preds Head Coach Peter Laviolette recorded his 500th career win behind an NHL bench, becoming the 25th in League history to accomplish the feat.
"It could [have been] a day where you pack it in and fight for another day, and we didn't do that," Laviolette said. "We just kept fighting. So I think i'll remember [the milestone] because of that more than anything."
"That was a big one," Captain Mike Fisher said of Laviolette's win. "It's a lot of wins and deservingly so. He's done a great job."
After Minnesota took a 2-0 lead early in the first period, the Preds settled down, controlling the play in the second and leading to James Neal's 16th of the season. As the third frame began, it didn't take long for Forsberg to collect his 13th of the season to knot things at 2-2, prior to striking a second time at 13:24 for a 3-2 Predators advantage. And that was all it took.
"Our start wasn't great, but after that, we got going," Forsberg said. "You just get back in the game and [Pekka Rinne] bailed us out in the first period, but after that we played better."
Video: NSH@MIN: Forsberg buries one-timer for go-ahead goal
If the Predators were to win on Sunday night, they needed a hero in the third period. Enter Filip Forsberg.
The Swede scored twice in the final frame, first to tie the game, 2-2, and then with 6:36 remaining to give Nashville their first lead of the night, the only one they'd need. Fosberg has 10 goals in his last 19 games, five of them game winners, including three on this road trip alone.
"He playing great," Fisher said of Forsberg. "He's finding the net and doing some great things and playing with that confidence we're used to seeing. It's awesome."
Y'all, Come On Back Now:
Video: NSH@MIN: Forsberg backhands loose puck into the net
In classic bookending fashion, the Predators concluded the road trip just how they started it. After a comeback win in Colorado, scoring three unanswered goals to defeat the Avalanche, Nashville completed the same task in Minnesota, coming back from an early 2-0 deficit to ultimately defeat the Wild and collect two more points.
The Wild scored twice in the first 7:31 of the game, but that was all they managed to muster as Nashville took over, sustaining pressure throughout the second and third periods to score four unanswered.
"We were slow getting out of the gate," Laviolette said. "I don't think that we were moving that fast, and I blame part of that on myself. We were trying to make sure we were doing the right things out there. The second period, we took the brakes off the players and got them moving and tried to play a much more aggressive game. That seemed to get us going in the right direction."
"After the first 10 minutes, I thought we kind of took over the game and we just played a really solid, hard game," Fisher said. "We tightened up defensively. They came at us pretty strong, it was a 2-0 lead then. After that we tightened up a lot better."
(Almost) Perfect Road Trip:
Video: NSH@MIN: Neal snipes a top-shelf beauty
With the exception of a 1-0 loss in Vancouver, the Predators had themselves quite an excursion away from home. Nashville collected four wins and eight points to regain a playoff position - third place in the Central Division to be exact - over the course of the last week. All while facing plenty of adversity along the way.
"It hasn't been the smoothest thing, lot of things out of our control, and not necessarily the fault of anybody in particular, but things that just happened," Laviolette said. "Our guys have just rolled with it and stayed focused and played some pretty good hockey along the way.
"Falling down 2-0 to the top team in our division, fighting back on them in their own building… they're playing terrific hockey and they showed that in the first period. But it was a good road trip where the guys really dug in and made some noise, made up some ground."
Video: Forsberg and Johansen help Predators defeat Wild, 4-2
The Predators return home for a two-game set prior to the 2017 NHL All-Star Weekend, beginning Tuesday night when they host the Buffalo Sabres at Bridgestone Arena.
Filip Forsberg scored three-game winning goals during the Preds five-game trip.
Nashville earned their second and third wins of the season when trailing by multiple goals during the recent excursion.