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Mully's Musings: at Columbus

by Bryan Mullen / Nashville Predators
It wasn’t looking good for the Predators. In fact, it looked terrible.

Nashville was down 3-1 in the final two minutes of the third period at Columbus, and the offense wasn’t exactly clicking. Then the Preds hit a switch, scored two goals in the final 1:36 of regulation, and escaped with a 4-3 win after Colin Wilson netted the game-winner at 1:45 of overtime.

It was a gutsy, come-from-behind victory for the Preds, who appeared on their way to a three-game losing streak. Instead, they return to Nashville with a confidence boost after stealing two points. The Preds had to climb out of a large hole and struggled for most of the night getting shots on net. But it all came together in a flash. After starting goalie Pekka Rinne raced to the bench, Patric Hornqvist scored with 1:36 to go in the third to cut the lead to 3-2. Then with 12.1 seconds to go, Nashville’s Sergei Kostitsyn scored on the power play to knot it at 3-3 and force overtime. In the extra session, Martin Erat fed a perfect pass to Wilson, who knocked it home for the win.

It was difficult to discern who was more stunned, Columbus’ players or Nashville’s. On to the musings…

Hornqvist doing what he does: Nashville’s energy factor always seems to be at its highest when Hornqvist is on the ice. His goal late in the third to cut Columbus’ lead to 3-2 was another case of him making things happen around the net. After he scored, Hornqvist was cross checked by Nikita Nikitin, but no penalty was called. Hornqvist stayed down for a moment but was able to get to his feet and shake it off. When Hornqvist’s teammates see him sacrificing late in a game that appears to be over, they instinctively follow suit. It’s a trait the whole team needs right now due to some struggles on offense.

No panic for Erat: Martin Erat didn’t score a goal on Thursday, but he may have been the most impressive player on the ice for Nashville. He helped set up Kostitsyn’s game-tying goal with 12.1 seconds to go in the third, then had a perfect feed to Wilson in overtime for the game-winner. Nashville’s offense has been up and down this season, and sometimes it takes a veteran to do the little things to get more consistency for the group. That’s exactly what Erat did at Columbus, and now everyone will see if it carries over to the next game.

Will they keep it going?:
Taken as an individual game, the win at Columbus was a thriller. But looking at the bigger picture, it could be a huge moment in the season for the Preds as they move forward. Nashville will now play four consecutive home games, starting with Anaheim on Saturday at Bridgestone Arena. At the exact time of the victory, Nashville vaulted up to ninth place in the Western Conference. Now the Preds have a chance to use their home-ice advantage to gain more points. Nashville has struggled at home this season, going 4-5-3. But coming off a stirring victory against the Blue Jackets, the Preds are in perfect position to make December one to remember.

F Colin Wilson on GW goal: “We knew we had the scoring talent on this team to win. It was a great play by Marty. I was just looking at the puck and let it go real quick.”

F Martin Erat, Nashville: 2 assists, including one on game-winner
F Colin Wilson, Nashville: Game-winning goal
F Sergei Kostistyn, Nashville: 1 goal, 1 assist

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