As Barry Trotz has said in the past – when the Predators have their backs against the wall, it brings out the best in them.
After losing Patric Hornqvist in the first and losing 3-2 in the third, his team found a way to win in overtime, 4-3, over the Boston Bruins Thursday night at the Bridgestone Arena. Shea Weber scored the overtime winner, the Preds’ first of such kind this season (not including the shootout).
“Overtime has not been kind to the Nashville Predators – that was huge for us,” Trotz said about the victory. “Those were a huge two points. You talk about character wins – (playing against a) top team; we lose Hornqvist for the game; fell behind the No. 1 road team in the league… they don’t lose too many times in third when they have a lead; guys stepped up. It was just a real character win.”
Boston didn’t waste any time in getting on the board first, scoring 1:50 into the game. Tyler Seguin’s wrist shot evaded Pekka Rinne to give the visiting Bruins a 1-0 advantage. At 7:53 though, Sergei Kostitsyn capitalized on a goal-mouth scramble to tie the game. It was Kostitsyn’s first goal since Feb. 19.
Late in the period, Hornqvist was given a five-minute major and game misconduct for an apparent elbow to Seguin’s head. Upon further review, it was Hornqvist’s shoulder that made contact.
“When I watched the replay,” Trotz said, “Hornqvist had his elbow out and then as he goes into Seguin he brings his elbow in, and actually puts the breaks on and sort of turns.”
The penalty came with 2:30 remaining in the first, which helped the Preds ultimately kill it off as it was split in half by the intermission.
“That helped to get a little bit of a breather,” defenseman Shane O’Brien said. “Before we went into the intermission, they had some quality chances; Peks made some great saves. We made some adjustments in between periods, which I think helped, and they didn’t have very much in the last couple minutes that they had (the power play).”
After killing off that major power play, the Preds had a five-on-three man advantage, but could not get a puck past Tuukka Rask on a handful of chances. Boston’s Michael Ryder jumped out of the box and had a shorthanded breakaway that was stoned by Rinne, who made 35 saves on the night.
“They just got a guy that came out of the penalty box, and they cleared the puck,” Rinne said about the save. “He happened to be in the right spot, and they got a breakaway, but luckily this time I made the save.”
Colin Wilson broke out of his slump as well, wristing a shot past Rask at 10:59 of the second. It was Wilson’s first tally since Feb. 26.
“I needed that one,” Wilson said. “I was really excited to see that go past (Rask).”
Less than three minutes later, David Krejci knotted the game at two for the Bruins when he pounced on a juicy rebound left by Rinne. Boston dominated the first ten minutes of the third period, outshooting the Preds 14-2 by the halfway mark, including Patrice Bergeron’s go-ahead goal early 1:42 in.
After the Preds killed off another penalty, Martin Erat came out of the box and had a breakaway opportunity. His first chance was denied by Rask, and so was Kostitsyn’s follow-up, but David Legwand finally jammed home the game-tying goal at 10:56 of the third.
Both teams had some chances late in regulation, but the game went to overtime. And in the extra frame, the Preds drew a penalty on Steve Kampfer with 2:01 to go. With the man advantage, Weber slapped home the winner from the blueline with 1:23 left in overtime.
“I had a lot of time to step into it and had a pretty good lane to shoot it as well,” Weber said. “We kind of saw what (Boston) did on the five-on-three, and obviously we weren’t very successful. We made some adjustments and it opened up some holes.”
Weber’s 16th goal of the season moved him into first in Preds history amongst goals scored from defensemen, surpassing Kimmo Timonen with 80 goals overall.
With Dallas and Calgary winning – and Anaheim as well last night – the Preds desperately needed the two points badly.
O’Brien admitted there was a sense of urgency when the team was down 3-2 in the third period.
“You have to be desperate,” he said. “You got to play mean, you got to play hard, you got to go to the dirty areas. It’s not going to be easy. It takes every guy to be a man and play like a man every night.”
Legwand picked up another two points, making it 10 in his last 11 games. The veteran center has really stepped up with all of the injuries.
“Leggy is a tremendously talented individual,” Trotz said, “and he’s playing with a lot more passion and a lot more urgency in his game.”
Though the penalty kill only killed off three Bruins power plays, it came through in the clutch and was an unsung hero (for lack of a better term) in this win.
“The PK was huge,” Trotz said. “You always talk about how special teams affect momentum. Tonight, we got some momentum. Once we killed that (major) penalty, it was like we had energy and they didn’t. We were able to capitalize a couple times.”
Nashville, who currently sits in ninth in the Western Conference, will host Detroit on Saturday before heading to Buffalo on Sunday.