James Neal and Filip Forsberg scored for the Preds in the third period and Craig Smith tallied the winner in the shootout as the Preds topped the Canucks by a 3-2 final at Bridgestone Arena. The victory was Nashville’s 38th of the season, giving them 89 points overall. The Preds now have points in nine-straight games at home, going 6-0-3 in that span.
“I thought we got better as the game went on,” Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. “The first period wasn’t good, obviously. The second period, I thought, we competed harder. I thought we got a little bit quicker, but still not up to speed the way that we know we can play. The third period we were looking; we knew somebody had to do something to get some life. That next goal was going to be a big one [to make it] 2-1 or 3-0, so for Neal to grab that just after the halfway mark of the period, I thought sent a lot of energy through our bench, through the building.”
Bo Horvat and Daniel Sedin scored for Vancouver in the first period as the Canucks ended a three-game goalless drought for a 2-0 lead after one.
The score remained stagnant until 11:56 of the third period, when Neal wristed a shot past Ryan Miller to get the Preds on the board with his 29th of the season. That goal woke up the Preds bench, as well as the sellout crowd, and less than two minutes later, Forsberg deposited his 31st goal on the campaign to even the score 2-2.
After Vancouver held off a late push by the Preds in regulation, and then a power play in overtime, it was Vancouver native Ryan Johansen, and later Smith, who scored for the Preds in the shootout, with Pekka Rinne turning away three of four shooters for his 31st victory of the campaign.
“We came basically right out of the gate in the third period and just attacked and wanted to get the first goal,” Forsberg said. “[Neal] had a big goal for us, which got the crowd really into it as well. We just built from there, and it was a huge win.”
The sellout crowd of 17,113 was the Predators 31st of the season, setting a franchise record for most sellouts in a single season. On Thursday, they helped play a role in the victory.
“It happens time after time and you try not to take it for granted; it’s a great feeling when the crowd gets behind you and they really understand when we’re trying to get the momentum going,” Rinne said. “Especially after the first goal, they were really behind us. We tied the game and after that, [Vancouver] had nothing. We kept buzzing and they gave us a ton of energy, I totally believe in that. It was a great atmosphere and so happy we could get the wins for the fans, too.”
Head Coach Peter Laviolette admitted his team’s first period against the Vancouver Canucks wasn’t very good. But then the Preds started pressing. As the chances continued, the energy on the bench, and in the crowd, helped to manifest into two Nashville goals within two minutes of each other in the third period.
“You can’t always just have the lead and win games, so sometimes you have to come back, sometimes you have to play a tie game, that’s just the way it goes,” Captain Shea Weber said. “You have to learn to win in different ways and tonight was one of those.”
When James Neal scored for the Preds at the 11:56 mark of the third period, there was little doubt the next one was coming for Nashville. Filip Forsberg took care of that.
“We talked about it going into the third,” Laviolette said. “It was a quiet night for us, we know that, and it wasn’t typical, but we felt like we were getting better. We have guys in the locker room that really care, and they went out in the third period on a mission to try and find one with the hope that it would lead to another.”
After overtime solved nothing, it was time for Ryan Johansen, Craig Smith and Pekka Rinne to do their job in the shootout. The Preds didn’t like their start in the game, but they sure were satisfied with their finish. It’s been said that they don’t ask how, just how many.
“It’s also a good learning lesson for us because it’s so competitive every night,” Laviolette said. “We’re fortunate we walked away with two points and hopefully we can take just a little bit from the front side of it that we weren’t that good and we have to be prepared.
Gif of the Game:
Filip Forsberg’s face says it all after his 31st tally of the season evens the Preds with the Canucks on the scoreboard.
Peter Laviolette on the energy from the sellout crowd:
“It was just loud, it was awesome. We needed that, we really needed it, and the goal was just the starting point. We just needed some more energy and the fans gave us that, and we were able to push through and continue that pace for the rest of the period and into the overtime and shootout.”
The Preds set a franchise record on Thursday with their 31st sellout of the regular season, surpassing the mark of 30 set one season ago.
Nashville is now on a nine-game point home point streak, having posted a 6-0-3 record in that span. The club has not fallen in regulation at Bridgestone Arena since Feb. 9 (vs. Washington).
Colin Wilson recorded his 200th career point on his assist on James Neal’s goal.
Ryan Ellis recorded his 100th career point with his assist on Filip Forsberg’s goal.
The Predators host Seth Jones and the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night before the Colorado Avalanche come to town on Monday to close out Nashville’s four-game home stand.
A late rally, followed by two sweet shootout goals from Ryan Johansen and Craig Smith over the shoulder of Ryan Miller are shown on the infographic.
Infographic: Don’t Call It a Comeback