The Nashville Predators rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the third period to beat the Arizona Coyotes 3-2 in overtime in the final home game of the 2015-16 regular season. On a night when the Preds set a franchise attendance record, they gave their fans something to cheer about.
“You want to feel good about the way you played, and I thought we played well through the first 40 minutes,” Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. “The fact that the guys kept with it and didn’t get frustrated and continued to push in the third period and we were able to get one, get one late and then the overtime goal, it was a really good comeback. I thought it was a strong 60 minutes.”
Antoine Vermette gave the Coyotes a 1-0 lead in the first period, and Shane Doan doubled that lead for Arizona by the time the middle frame had concluded. Nashville had 18 shots through the first two periods, with Mike Smith making a number of key stops.
On a power play in the final stanza, Captain Shea Weber tallied his 20th goal of the season to bring the Preds to within one goal. The tally was Weber’s 14th of the season on the man advantage, tying him with Paul Kariya and Andy Delmore for the franchise’s single-season record for power-play goals.
Then, with 19 seconds remaining in regulation and Pekka Rinne pulled for the extra attacker, Forsberg tipped a Roman Josi shot through the legs of Smith to even the contest 2-2. Forsberg’s 33rd goal of the season tied him with former Preds Captain Jason Arnott for the franchise record for goals in a single season.
Once overtime commenced, Josi didn’t waste much time, depositing the winner just 20 seconds into the extra frame to give Nashville their 41st win of the season and 96 points to close out the home schedule.
“You want to get a win on your last home game,” Josi said. “Our fans have been so great to us this whole year. They definitely deserved the win.”
The milestones for Weber and Forsberg couldn’t have come at a better juncture of the contest for the Preds, and their bench boss recognized the achievements.
“Shea’s been a force for the power play all year long with his shot. Filip’s been a really strong player for us especially in the second half of the season. It’s nice to see him follow that up from his first year and what he was able to do. There’s more in the room too, there are guys like [Calle] Jarnkrok who scored 15 goals this year and made a big improvement, [Craig] Smith gets to 20 again, and [Ryan] Johansen comes in here and helps contribute. Lots of players that are really chipping in and helping us out offensively. Certainly the ones you mentioned are big milestones and should be recognized.”
The Preds now have one game left in the regular season before the Stanley Cup Playoffs commence next week. Thursday’s victory doesn’t mean anything for the Predators in the standings, but it holds plenty of value when it comes to building confidence before the postseason begins.
“We talked about just being consistent,” Weber said. “For three periods, I thought we did a pretty good job tonight. We’re making progress and we’re playing a team that is in the playoffs [on Saturday] and one of the top teams in our division, so it will be a tough test for us.”
Gif of the Game:
Ryan Johansen isn’t going to miss out on giving Roman Josi a huge hug after an even bigger Preds comeback win.
Peter Laviolette on the support from Preds fans:
“We’re excited for the playoffs, and I’m sure the fans are too. We appreciate the energy that they bring to our building. We feel like it’s one of the greatest places to play in the National Hockey League because the energy that’s in here, it’s downtown, it’s in our building and our fans bring that. Our players and our organization are so appreciative of that, and I know it’s going to get ramped up pretty good in the playoffs. We’re looking forward to it.”
The Preds had their 35th sellout of the season on Thursday night, setting a single-season franchise attendance record with 695,828 fans taking in a game at Bridgestone Arena in 2015-16. The new record is 4,800 more than last year’s 691,028 fans who visited the arena.
Roman Josi extended his franchise record of defenseman points in a season to 61 after recording a pair of points on Thursday.
Nashville has one game remaining in the 2015-16 regular season, a date with the Stars on Saturday night in Dallas. The Stanley Cup Playoffs begin next week.
Thing turnaround for the better in a hurry as the Predators come roaring back in win.
Infographic: Thank you, Smashville!