Barry Trotz walked into the postgame press conference, sat down and took a breath.
“Wow,” the Nashville Predators head coach said. “Wow.”
Those two words summed up the previous three hours. The Preds staged an inexplicable come-from-behind victory to once again torment Columbus. This time it was a 6-5 win in front of a rocking, sold-out crowd of 17,113 at Bridgestone Arena. Exactly two weeks ago, Nashville went to Columbus, scored twice in the final 96 seconds of regulation to force overtime, then won the game 4-3 when Colin Wilson
scored 1:45 into the extra session. In that game, Nashville twice trailed by two goals.
Thursday night’s game was even wackier.
The Preds trailed by three
goals at two different points before running off four consecutive tallies. The game-winner came from Martin Erat
, who scored with 8.4 seconds to go in regulation, driving the crowd into a frenzy and the Blue Jackets into disbelief.
For fans and players on both sides, it was one of those rare games that will always be remembered, but for much different reasons. Let’s release the musings…Toughing it out:
Much has been made through the years about the Preds’ resiliency. It’s a quality that is difficult to quantify, the ability to stay in the game when it appears to be a lost cause. The Preds have played four Thursday games this month, were down by at least two goals in each of those games, and finished 4-0-0. This most recent victory saw Nashville trail 4-1 at the end of one period. Midway through the second, Columbus led 5-2. As the comeback began, it was clear it would be a group effort. Consider, Nashville’s six goals were scored by six different players, and the coaching staff stuck with goaltender Pekka Rinne
who stopped 15 of 16 shots in the final two periods. Most NHL coaching staffs feel fortunate to have a handful of players who exhibit superb resiliency. Nashville has a roster stacked with it. And Trotz and his staff are a big reason why.
Fast start, slow finish:
It’s almost difficult to fathom, but a hat trick was scored in the first period and it became a secondary storyline by the time the game ended. Columbus’ Jeff Carter dominated Nashville when he scored three goals in a span of 3:18, which was the fastest hat trick in Columbus franchise history. Two came on power plays. Nashville found itself shorthanded for a long stretch when Brian McGrattan
was whistled for interference. He was issued a five-minute major and a game misconduct. While the Preds didn’t manage the first period very well, they were able to shut down Carter for most of the final two periods. A huge play came when Carter hit the post on his first shot of the second period, but it was just off the mark. Carter wasn’t a factor the rest of the way.Finishing strong:
The Preds have now won six of seven games and are on a roll. As emotional as Thursday’s win was, the Preds don’t have much time to celebrate. Nashville plays Friday at Dallas before getting the weekend off for the holidays. The Preds are seventh in the Western Conference standings with 40 points, but the Stars are directly behind them with 39 points. A win would provide a tiny cushion and a bit of relief, if only for two days. THREE QUOTES
F Patric Hornqvist
: “We stay with it and bounce back all the time. We got a big win in the end. It was a great effort by all the guys. We did it together.”
F Martin Erat
: “We were down 4-1 but felt like we were the better team. It was a great response from our team.”
Barry Trotz: “It was a huge character victory. We could have quit many times during that game. We stayed with it. To me, that shows great character. That’s something you can’t teach. It’s something you have to will yourself to do.”THREE STARS
F Martin Erat
, Nashville: 1 goal (game-winner), 1 assist, +2 rating
F Colin Wilson
, Nashville: 2 assists, +1 rating
F Jeff Carter, Columbus: 3 goals