What a trip.
Ryan Ellis tied the game late and Filip Forsberg scored the winner in overtime as the Nashville Predators defeated the Colorado Avalanche by a 4-3 final on Sunday afternoon at Pepsi Center. The victory is Nashville's eighth in a row, tying a franchise record for consecutive wins. It also gives the Preds a clean sweep of their four-game road trip, not to mention points in 12 consecutive outings away from Bridgestone Arena.
Just as they did in the previous three contests of the trip, the Preds rallied as Ellis blasted home a shot with 1:06 to play in regulation to force OT, after the Avalanche had taken a 3-2 lead moments earlier. And then Forsberg ended it.
"We've been playing good hockey," Ellis said. "It hasn't been the prettiest of ways we've been getting it done, but good teams [find ways] to get points, and today was no different."
For the first time on the trip, Nashville scored the first goal when Austin Watson's shot deflected off an Avalanche defender and past Semyon Varlamov early in the opening period, but Colorado defenseman Nikita Zadorov evened the score before the frame was out.
Video: NSH@COL: Turris one-times PPG past Varlamov
A Kyle Turris power-play blast in the second gave the Preds a 2-1 advantage after 40 minutes of play, but in the third period, the Avalanche got a bounce.
After a Matt Nieto shot was stopped by Pekka Rinne, Kevin Fiala accidentally flubbed the puck into his own net while trying to clear it out of the crease. Later, with the Avs on the power play and less than six minutes to play in regulation, Nathan MacKinnon found Mikko Rantanen for a one-timed rocket and Colorado's first lead of the contest.
Video: NSH@COL: Ellis buries one-timer to tie game late
It didn't last long, however, as Ellis and Forsberg combined to complete the comeback and finish a road trip that will undoubtedly go down as one of the more memorable excursions in recent seasons.
"Right now, the confidence level is really high," Rinne said. "It shows a lot of character too, and never giving up and coming back every game, it's unbelievable. Sometimes you have those games once a month or a couple times a month, and now we've had one four games in a row. It's a great road trip for us, and for a while now, we've been playing with a lot of confidence and it's a big push here again."
Video: NSH@COL: Forsberg pots sharp-angle shot in overtime
More than 3,000 miles traveled and four games in six days? No problem.
With an overtime win over the Avalanche on Sunday, the Predators swept their four-game road trip, collecting wins in Winnipeg, Edmonton, Vancouver and Denver, all while celebrating a number of momentous occasions.
One day after being traded to Nashville from Chicago, Ryan Hartman scored the game-winner in Winnipeg with one-minute remaining in regulation for a 6-5 victory. Two nights later in Edmonton, Preds General Manager David Poile collected his 1,320th career win - he's got 1,322 now - to become the NHL's winningest GM of all-time.
And if that wasn't enough, Mike Fisher completed his comeback on Friday in Vancouver, scoring a goal in the process to help Nashville to a 4-3 overtime win.
Add another comeback victory to the list, and the Predators find themselves sitting atop the Western Conference and just one point back (with a game in hand) of the Tampa Bay Lightning for the League lead.
Not bad for a week away from Tennessee.
"It was a good road trip," Predators Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. "What happened with David (Poile), Mike Fisher coming back, adding to our lineup and the way we won hockey games, the way we utilized our lineup, there's lot of positive to take from it."
"I think the biggest things is belief in each other," Ellis said. "No matter the score, no matter the situation, I think we all trust each other. The playoff run we did last year gave us a lot of experience and confidence in each other, and it's started to translate over to this year too."
Now the Preds head back home with a chance to add to their point totals, and even though the postseason is beginning to come into sight with a month to play, that's the last thing on the minds of those in the Nashville locker room.
"The good thing about our group right now is we're just really doing a good job of staying in the moment," Laviolette said. "We're just playing day to day and not thinking about the games that we won and not thinking about going home and playing games at home. Guys are showing up and they are competing in the moments when we need to show up and compete."
Video: Forsberg scores in OT as Preds match club record
Preds Captain Roman Josi missed his second consecutive game and is day-to-day with an upper-body injury. Forward Craig Smith was scratched due to maintenance, while Mike Fisher and Anthony Bitetto also sat out for Nashville.
After making his season debut on Friday night in Vancouver, Fisher is expected to skate in Smashville for the first time on Tuesday night when the Preds host the Stars. To purchase tickets, click here.
The Preds have won nine consecutive games over the Avalanche, including five at Pepsi Center and three this season.
The Predators will now return home for four at Bridgestone Arena, beginning Tuesday against Dallas before hosting Anaheim, New Jersey and Winnipeg.