Juuse Saros made 28 saves, but the Predators only tallied once in Saturday’s 2-1 loss to the New York Rangers at Bridgestone Arena. It’s Nashville’s only regulation defeat in their past seven tries with the first month of the season now in the rearview.
Nashville had their chances, especially as the game went along, but a couple of hit posts in the second period and 32 stops by Rangers netminder Alexandar Georgiev helped lead to the final result.
“We were chasing the game,” Predators Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. “I actually thought we were at our best parts of the game defensively and fell down 2-0. Kind of unfortunate the way that happened, and then from there you’re pressing… We missed some opportunities, missed some shots, hit the post a few times and just couldn’t seem to get it to fall tonight. That’s what happens when you’re coming from behind, but like I said, I thought we were fairly tight when we were behind and we were pressing offensively. That’s the way the game went today and the game we had to play.”
“It was a tight game,” Saros said. “Good battle. They scored first, and it would be easier for us to play in the lead, it was a tight one-goal game which could go either way.”
The Rangers had a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes, courtesy of a goal from Filip Chytil, and they took a 2-0 lead early in the second when Ryan Strome beat Saros top shelf.
But before the middle frame was out, the Predators cashed in on the man advantage. Filip Forsberg fed Viktor Arvidsson a pass in the slot and the winger directed a shot past Georgiev and into the cage to give Nashville life after two periods.
Saros kept his club in the game throughout the afternoon, and Nashville went on the power play three times in the third period, but they were unable to convert before the final horn.
“We’ve got to be better from the start,” Arvidsson said. “We got going in the second and started to play better – we made a push at the end – but I think our power play needs to step up and get one more or two. We had chances and [Saros] played great, but we’ve got to bring it now.”
It was arguably the best game of the season for Saros, who made a number of key stops on defensive lapses from the Preds.
“He stood on his head there,” Arvidsson said of Saros. “In the third [the Rangers had some chances], had some breakaways, in the second too. He played great, and we’ve got to win this one for him.”
A familiar trio was reunited on the day as well when Filip Forsberg was moved to a line with Arvidsson and Ryan Johansen.
“We moved it around a little bit and it seemed to catch some fire with regard to [Johansen and Arvidsson and Forsberg],” Laviolette said. “They got going, and they started moving things pretty well in the offensive zone. They created a lot of chances and a lot of shots. I thought they were pretty good once they got together.”
With a home-heavy October schedule complete and another three-game homestand finished, the Predators now must head on the road for a four-game trip that will take them across the continent over the course of 10 days – and there will be plenty of challenges along the way.
“We’ve got to tighten up defensively, play better,” Arvidsson said. “But we have a good record, we have a pretty good homestand. We have to go on the road here and get after it.”
Saturday marked career game No. 1,100 for Preds defenseman Dan Hamhuis, just the seventh active player and third blueliner to reach the milestone.
Prior to Saturday’s game, the Predators revealed the jersey they’ll wear at the 2020 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on New Year’s Day in Dallas. Click here for more information and to see the fresh attire.
With the homestand now complete, the Preds will head on the road for a four-game trip, beginning Monday night in Detroit against the Red Wings. Nashville will then make stops in Colorado, San Jose and Vancouver before returning to Tennessee in mid-November.