The NHL Trade Deadline has come and gone, and the Predators have begun the unofficial stretch run with two more points.
Ryan Ellis and Viktor Arvidsson scored power-play goals, as Nashville defeated the Ottawa Senators, 3-2, on Tuesday night at Bridgestone Arena. The result gives the Preds their second-straight victory and points in six of their last seven outings.
Plus – at least for the evening – Nashville has climbed back into a playoff spot for the first time since November. Not bad for a Tuesday night.
“[Our effort was] good,” Ellis said. “[Ottawa is a] young team over there, and they’re working really hard. We talked about our compete level, and I thought it was pretty good tonight. We need to keep doing that.”
“Even if it wasn’t necessarily the best start for us – I think Ottawa came out hard and wound up getting a lead – but we were able to respond,” Preds Head Coach John Hynes said. “We’re really figuring out – as games continue to go on – that there’s certain things, we have to do better, and the guys are responsive to it. It seems as though when things go well, we stay with it. But also the responses when things don’t go well have been, I’d say, more consistent and more focused on what needs to get done the right way.”
The Senators tallied first on Tuesday night when Thomas Chabot beat Juuse Saros less than five minutes into the contest, but exactly 20 seconds later, Colin Blackwell tied the game when he deposited a rebound in the crease.
“When you play with a lot of emotion, you kind of just black out when things like that happen,” Blackwell said of goal and subsequent celebration. “It was a big goal after they had just scored type of thing. I thought maybe a couple weeks ago the building got flat, maybe the bench got flat, but it’s just how we respond.”
Ottawa regained the lead late in the opening frame, but in the second stanza, Nashville’s power play went to work. First, it was Ellis, who snapped a shot past Craig Anderson on the man advantage for his first goal since returning from a 20-game hiatus. Then, Arvidsson tapped home a loose puck for the home team’s second power-play goal of the period for a 3-2 advantage after 40 minutes.
That was all the offense the Preds needed, because Saros continued to stand tall, stopping 33 shots in total by the time it was all over.
“It was a strong second… and I think that showed a lot of character,” Arvidsson said. “In the third too, we kept them off the scoresheet. I think Juuse played great in net. We managed to pull it out, and we played a solid 60 minutes.”
As Monday’s Trade Deadline came and went with the Preds remaining relatively quiet, General Manager David Poile expressed confidence in his group and the upward trajectory they appear to be attaining.
Tuesday’s win was another example of Nashville raising their level of play once more, and although it wasn’t perfect, the points are paramount.
“We are taking good strides in the right direction,” Ellis said. “Overall, I think our record is getting better and better and we seem to be somewhat clicking at the right time. It’s not going to be every shift, but it’s about the overall process of the game and the night in, night out. But things are looking up in this dressing room right now and guys are starting to work harder. Like we say, ’embrace the grind.’ I think we are on the right path.”
Prior to Tuesday’s game, the Preds recalled goaltender Connor Ingram on an emergency basis from Milwaukee. Ingram served as the backup to Juuse Saros. Pekka Rinne did not dress due to illness.
Newcomer Korbinian Holzer was among the scratches for the Predators against the Senators. Yannick Weber and Austin Watson were also out of the lineup.
Colin Blackwell is now on a three-game point streak for the first time in his NHL career.
On home ice, the Preds are on a six-game winning streak against the Senators, a run that dates back to Oct. 9, 2014.
Nashville has scored at least three goals in 10 consecutive games versus the Senators.
Nashville’s five-game homestand continues on Thursday night at 7 p.m. CT when the Calgary Flames come to town. Colorado will visit Bridgestone Arena on Saturday, and Edmonton stops by on Monday.