The Nashville Predators gutted it out and were rewarded for their efforts.
Nashville collected a 2-1 victory over the Boston Bruins at Bridgestone Arena on Thursday night, completing a perfect two-game home stand and earning consecutive wins in the same home stand for the first time since November, in what Head Coach Peter Laviolette called a "gutsy" effort from his club.
The win provides Nashville 45 points overall, good enough to slot them into the final Wild Card spot in the West at the time of the game's conclusion. It also gives the Predators a good feeling as the second half of the season kicks into gear.
"We knew it was going to be a really fast game tonight, a competitive game," Laviolette said. "Our guys answered the bell in regard to handling a team that's playing really well right now. Especially in the third period, where we knew that they were going to come and we were going to have to defend and do a lot of little things right to win the hockey game. We got big saves. We got big blocks. Guys played hard in the defensive zone, and we knew that was going to be the case. It was a big win for us."
Video: BOS@NSH: Saros turns away a quick snap shot
It's becoming a bit of a habit for Juuse Saros.
He turned aside shot after shot once more on Thursday night, stopping 35 in all - a career high - on the way to his fourth victory of the season, and arguably his most important yet. Saros has given up one goal or less in six of his eight starts this season, a truly impressive mark from a rookie netminder who just seems to get better each time he steps on the ice.
"It's about opportunity," Laviolette said of Saros. "He played really well in the American Hockey League. He developed to a point, but then you have to get here and make the most of those opportunities. He's done that. He's had a terrific year up to this point. I think we're hopeful that he would be able to take his development from the American Hockey League and bring it in. He's done a great job of that."
Combine Saros's play with that of Pekka Rinne, and the Predators are quickly developing a one-two punch in net that could prove to be a valuable asset down the stretch.
Video: BOS@NSH: Forsberg battles to blister home puck
Filip Forsberg wasn't messing around. After beating Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo in a puck battle in the high slot of the Bruins' zone, the Preds winger fired a shot through the five hole of Zane McIntyre to give Nashville the coveted lead heading into the third period.
"It's almost like he knew what he was doing the whole way in," Laviolette said. "He was just waiting for the right time to… get off a quick shot. It was a really big goal at the time, and he's playing really well right now. When you're in a game like that and… there are not a lot of offensive opportunities, you're looking for the quality ones. For him to get that chance there, it was a big moment in the game for us."
Forsberg also made sure the Bridgestone Arena crowd was in a frenzy after the fact, pumping his hands into the air when his 10th of the season on the board.
"I was just fired up," Forsberg said. "It was a chippy game and that gets you going as well.
"It was great. The effort was great. I think we played a pretty good game against them… It was a test for us and we showed up, and we played our hearts out and got two points and that's what we came here to do."
Video: BOS@NSH: Watson opens the scoring in the 2nd
After a thrilling overtime win on Tuesday, the Predators wanted nothing more than to follow it up with at least an equal effort that produced the desired result once again.
The Preds have talked recently of starting anew in the second half of the season. So far, so good in the second half, and although it's just two wins, that's four more points and a boost of confidence that's can do a world of good as the club prepares to embark on a five-game trip.
"It feels good; we haven't been too good at that lately," defenseman Mattias Ekholm said. "I think everyone understands the situation now, and that we have to give everything. Maybe it was the previous game. We didn't dominate the way we wanted to, but the two points are in our column so we'll take it and move on. Those are big."
Craig Smith skated in his 400th career game on Thursday night, all with Nashville.
Roman Josi left Thursday night's game with an upper-body injury and did not return.
Derek Grant made his Predators debut on Thursday, recording 3:32 of ice time and getting into a scrap with Boston defenseman Adam McQuaid.
"He came in and wanted to make a difference," Laviolette said of Grant. "We missed him when he was gone, because [it's] taking out a left-handed centerman. I thought he showed up to make a difference in the game."
The Predators will now embark on a five-game road trip, beginning on Saturday afternoon (at 2 p.m. CT) in Colorado before making their way to Western Canada next week.