More Than Meets The Eye: Preds in Overtime
A lot has been made of the Nashville Predators having lost 10 games in overtime/shootouts prior to the 2014 Olympic break. Some may look at it as valuable points left on the board, but when you actually break down those extra-time losses, you’ll find that in most of the games the Preds came from behind to earn at least a point they would have otherwise lost.
Heading into the break, Nashville had earned points in 10 of its last 14 games, placing the team on the cusp of moving into wild card contention in the Western Conference. Eight of the 20 points earned in that span came via overtime wins or overtime losses.
Here’s a breakdown of seven of Nashville’s 10 overtime losses this season, and how the Preds battled adversity to earn those vital points.
Beginning with the most recent, the Nashville Predators rallied twice against Minnesota on Feb. 6 to earn a point in overtime. Craig Smith played the hero in both rallies for the Preds.
After the Wild scored just four minutes into the game, Smith responded less than two minutes later jamming home a loose puck to tie the game. Zach Parise later pushed the Wild ahead with a power-play goal to close out the first period. Smith once again found the net in the second period to tie the game and eventually force overtime.
Outside of the goal scoring in Minnesota, the Preds had to kill off four penalties, including a cross-checking penalty to captain Shea Weber with less than four minutes remaining in the game. Nashville also rang three shots off the post at various times during the game.
The Preds were able to secure a crucial point against a Central Division rival, all while dealing with the additional emotional strain caused by Pete Weber’s heart attack and David Poile’s freak injury earlier that morning.
Four days prior to Nashville’s game in Minnesota, the Preds overcame a two-goal deficit in St. Louis to force a shootout against the high-powered Blues.
The Blues jumped out to a 2-0 lead within the first 24 minutes of play on goals from Jaden Schwartz and David Backes, but Paul Gaustad pulled the Preds within one to close out the middle frame. In the third, the Preds most productive period of play this season, Mike Fisher and Roman Josi pushed Nashville out in front, 3-2, by the 7:33 mark.
The next shift after a goal is something that cannot be stressed enough in hockey, and the Preds failed to capitalize on the momentum of Josi’s goal, as Vladimir Tarasenko tied the game 16 seconds later to force overtime.
The game eventually worked its way into a shootout, where Tarasenko sealed the win for the Blues. However, it was another important point, especially against a team who leads the League in points percentage (.737).
Perhaps the most exciting come-from-behind game this season came on Jan. 31 with the New Jersey Devils in town.
The Preds held the 1-0 lead midway through the game after Weber’s first-period goal, but back-to-back goals from the Devils saw the Preds scrambling late in the game. Then, with 11 ticks left on the clock and Carter Hutton pulled for the extra attacker, David Legwand scored to force overtime.
In the five-minute overtime, it was Hutton who first came up big for the Preds, as the netminder stymied Michael Ryder’s breakaway attempt a little more than a minute into the extra period. A minute after Hutton’s save, the Devils won an offensive-zone faceoff, but Colin Wilson jumped on a loose puck and rushed up ice. As he broke into the Devils’ end, he split the defenders and dropped the puck to a trailing Weber, who fired a wrist shot for the win.
The win was just Nashville’s second in overtime this season, but it proved that despite some inconsistency in overtime and the shootout, the Preds have the character and the wherewithal to come up big when called upon.
Back on Jan. 4, the Preds were in South Florida and trailing the Panthers 4-2 with less than six minutes remaining.
As time expired on a Nashville power play, Seth Jones pulled his team within a goal at the 14:52 mark. A little more than four minutes later, Paul Gaustad scored, in what was the Preds first extra-attacker goal of the season, and first since March 19, 2013 at Columbus (Fisher), to tie the game.
Nashville would eventually loose in the shootout, but once again the character was there to secure important points against a non-conference foe.
Just two days earlier, the Preds found themselves digging out of a 2-1 hole late in the third period at TD Garden in Boston.
The Preds led late in the second period after a Viktor Stalberg goal, but the Bruins, who sat near the top of the Eastern Conference at the time, tallied twice early in the third to lead late in the game. With less than six minutes remaining, Weber bombed in a slap shot to tie the game.
Brad Marchand would score just 54 seconds into overtime, but Nashville came away with another important point they would have otherwise surrendered.
On Dec. 21, the Montreal Canadians and Nashville Predators battled to an overtime decision.
The Habs jumped out to a 3-0 lead after the first 14:37 of play, but the Preds used two power-play goals and one even-strength goal to ultimately tie the game with less than seven minutes remaining. Montreal would go on to win in overtime when David Desharnais avoided a tripping penalty and walked-in alone to beat Carter Hutton.
When talking about facing adversity, the game on Nov. 30 was perhaps the high-water mark for Nashville thus far. The Preds were playing their third game in four nights against a surging Eastern Conference team with two of their top four defensemen out of the lineup (Weber and Kevin Klein). Many people may call that a perfect storm of hockey misfortune, but that’s what the Preds were looking at as the Philadelphia Flyers came to town.
The Flyers got on the board first on a Claude Giroux goal at 16:49 of the first period. But, as I said before, the shift after a goal is always the most important, and this time the Flyers failed as Fisher tied the game a minute later. Wilson would give Nashville the lead just five minutes into the final period, but Sean Couturier tied the game with seven minutes left to force overtime.
Nashville battled hard in the overtime frame, firing three shots on goal, but the Flyers would go on to secure the win in the breakaway competition. This is where the common theme of this feature began, the Preds were able to come away with at least a point in what may turn out to very important game come late April.
Surviving and overcoming hardship is something the Preds have become accustomed to as they have often been looked at as an underdog – just one of the many trials of being a hockey team in a non-traditional market. But the ability to take that adversity and turn into a moment when the team’s character can shine through and, more importantly, turn it into points, is something that will continue to galvanize any Nashville Predators postseason run.