Ryan Johansen and James Neal each recorded a goal and an assist as the Nashville Predators picked up points in their seventh consecutive home contest. A 4-2 triumph over the New York Islanders on Thursday night at Bridgestone Arena ran the Predators record to 7-1-2 in their last 10.
After returning from a five-game road trip, the win gives Nashville 85 points overall and at least one point in 16 of their last 17 games.
“When you come home from a long road trip like that, usually teams take a deep breath to get into the game or wait for something to happen,” Johansen said. “We wanted to initiate tonight, go out there and have a good start. We were great tonight.”
Neal picked up right where he left off after recording a hat trick on Monday by tallying at 9:15 of the first period to give the Preds a 1-0 lead. Calle Jarnkrok found Neal in the low slot where No. 18 slid the puck past Thomas Greiss for his 27th of the season.
After Isles d-man Ryan Pulock’s first career goal evened the score in the second stanza, Ryan Ellis struck on the power play for the Predators, rifling a shot over the left shoulder of Greiss to regain the lead. Less than two minutes later, Johansen darted to the net and roofed a shot over that same shoulder for his 12th of the season and a 3-1 Preds advantage after two.
Brock Nelson brought the Islanders back to within one late in the final frame, but Austin Watson iced it with an empty-netter to cap off the Preds’ victory. Nashville held the Isles to just two shots in the third period, with Pekka Rinne turning away a total of 22 shots on the night.
“[It was] another big win for us,” Rinne said. “They are a really good team, and I thought all night long we played a strong game. We started off really well in the first period and had a big goal by Neal and a nice pass by Jarnkrok. They battled back but it was a solid home game.”
Home, Sweet Home:
There has certainly been more than one occasion in NHL history in which a team has returned from a long road trip to the comfort of their home building, only to find themselves on the wrong side of the ledger at the end of the night.
The factors that lead to such efforts, whatever they may be, were absent in the Preds lineup on Thursday night, as Nashville held a quality Islanders team to 22 shots – just two in the third period – and a pair of goals on their way to a 4-2 victory.
“We talked about it quite a bit this morning, and even going into the game, just what it’s going to take to be successful,” Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. “The Islanders have had a great year to this point, and are a very strong team. I thought our guys really responded, and we were good in the first period and good through the game.”
The contest began a stretch that will see eight of Nashville’s final 12 games in Music City, and for a team that is heating up at the right time, solid performances in front of their own faithful are at the top of the to-do list.
“All the lines played well tonight; I really liked the way we played,” Laviolette said. “Coming off the road trip, you never know what you’re going to get, but I thought we were pretty sharp from start to finish.”
Gif of the Game:
Defenseman Anthony Bitetto can’t contain his excitement following Ryan Johansen’s eventual game-winning goal.
Peter Laviolette on the referees and linesmen overturning a late penalty call on the Predators:
“That’s a difficult thing. I mean, we like it. I’m sure they’re disappointed with the fact that it happened. But in the end, I think when you walk away from the game, what you really want, if it didn’t matter, if everybody’s just having an opinion, I think what you really want is the right call. It was good that they huddled up, and came to that. A lot of credit to the referees for doing that. We benefited from it tonight and the Islanders didn’t. In the end I think it was the right thing.”
The Preds are now 5-4-1 all-time on St. Patrick’s Day.
The Predators have not allowed a power-play goal in their last six games, stopping all 17 opposition power plays in that span.
James Neal has at least one point in 10 of his last 11 games versus the Islanders (7g-9a). Nashville is 16-1-4 this season when he scores a goal.
The Predators head to Washington tomorrow night for the second half of a back-to-back situation as they take on the Capitals, before returning home for a special practice at Ford Ice Center on Sunday morning at 11 a.m.
Two near-perfect snipes from Ryan Johansen and Ryan Ellis are shown on the Goalie Hole chart.
Infographic: O’Joey Leads O’Preds to Win