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Preds Conclude Home Schedule with OT Loss

Miikka Salomaki, Brad Hunt Crack Nashville Lineup in Final Regular-Season Home Game

by Brooks Bratten @brooksbratten / Communications & Content Coordinator

Thomas Hickey scored the winner in overtime and the New York Islanders defeated the Nashville Predators, 2-1, on Tuesday night at Bridgestone Arena. The Preds collected their 92nd point of the season in the loss, giving them a 24-9-8 home record to conclude the 2016-17 slate.

After jumping out to a 1-0 lead, the Predators saw the Islanders tie the game in the third before winning it in the extra session.

"It's not the way we wanted to play the last home game, but we played against a desperate team and a good team," goaltender Pekka Rinne said. "It probably wasn't our best game, but still we got the lead in the third period. We had the game 1-0, and we let it slip away. Going into OT, sometimes you only need one chance. They only had one shot and it was a goal and that's how it goes sometimes."

Neither team was able to solve a goaltender in the first period, but Preds Captain Mike Fisher broke through at 7:03 of the second when he took a feed from Colin Wilson and deposited the puck into a gaping net for a 1-0 lead after 40 minutes of play.

Video: NYI@NSH: Fisher slams home a nice dish from Wilson

Brock Nelson tied things at 1:32 of the final frame, but Rinne kept the Preds in it, turning aside 30 shots overall. But, the Islanders controlled play in overtime before Hickey ended it to conclude the home portion of the schedule for Nashville.

"We sat back a little bit," Fisher said. "This game had a lot of chances, and if it wasn't for Pekka - he was unbelievable - we wouldn't even have a point. We need to be a little bit better and hit the road here and get a couple of good games going before the playoffs. We have to be better, for sure."

There were some fresh faces in the Nashville lineup on Tuesday as forward Miikka Salomaki skated in his first game since Oct. 15 due to injury, and defenseman Brad Hunt made his debut with the Preds. Head Coach Peter Laviolette was happy to get both players into the fold, affording the coaching staff a chance to see both in action before the postseason.

"Not knowing what to expect from a guy that's been out that long, I thought he was physical," Laviolette said of Salomaki. "I thought he did a good job of puck-battles. He's a guy that's a bull in a china shop - he can hit, he can plow through things, plow through people, and we wanted to see what he looked like as we move toward the playoffs and you never know what might come up."

Video: Preds players discuss their 2-1 OT loss.

Only two games remain on the Predators schedule, Thursday at Dallas and Winnipeg on Saturday. Those will be the final two opportunities for Nashville to fine tune their game before it really matters next week in the postseason.

"We know we're going to have to get on the road here in the playoffs," Fisher said. "These two games - we need to treat them like any other game. We have to be ready and battle, and get some good habits going. Every game is still an important game. We can't let up. I feel like we did a little bit tonight."

Selling Out Smashville:

Video: Preds thank fans for incredible support during season

There wasn't a seat to be had this season at Bridgestone Arena.

For the first time in franchise history, the Nashville Predators sold out all 41 of their regular-season home games, playing to 100.3 percent capacity and setting the single-season franchise attendance record with more than 703,000 fans at Bridgestone Arena. The record surpasses last year's 35 sellouts and 695,828 fans.

"The support that we got through the course of the year from our fans is second to none," Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. "There were so many nights where I thought the fans really picked us up and gave us life."

Video: NSH Recap: Fisher scores lone goal in Preds' 2-1 loss

Notes:

After missing a majority of the season due to injury, forward Miikka Salomaki returned to the Nashville lineup on Tuesday, his first NHL action since Oct. 15. Salomaki tied for the team lead with three blocked shots and dished out three hits.

A waiver claim from St. Louis on Jan. 17, defenseman Brad Hunt made his Predators debut on Tuesday night, skating alongside Matt Irwin. Hunt logged two blocked shots in 16:29 of ice time.

The final two games of the regular season take place over one last road trip for the Predators, beginning Thursday night in Dallas before concluding Saturday in Winnipeg. Nashville will then return home to prepare for the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs which begin next week.

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