The Predators rolled out a snowman on the scoreboard on Tuesday night.
Seven unanswered goals turned a 3-1 deficit in the second period into an 8-3 victory for the Preds over the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum. It’s the second-highest goal total in a single game in franchise history, just the seventh time Nashville has tallied at least eight.
The comeback win bestows four of four available points to the Predators’ visit to New York; up next, their four-game trip will take them north of the border to Ottawa.
“We’re all really happy,” Preds forward Nick Bonino said. “It was a great start. I think they controlled the last bit of the first and early second, and we’ve had trouble battling back from leads. I thought our response when we went down 3-1 was awesome… It’s something we’ve been searching for a lot of this year, and to get that result tonight on the second game of the back to back, we’re very pleased.”
The first frame only featured one goal, and it came off the stick of Craig Smith less than five minutes into the contest to give Nashville the game’s first lead. And then both clubs went wild in the second stanza.
The Preds and Isles combined for seven goals over the next 20 minutes, and the first three belonged to the home team. Brock Nelson, Derek Brassard and Casey Cizikas all tallied for the Islanders, with the Cizikas tally coming shorthanded. Considering they entered the game allowing the NHL’s second-lowest goals against per game at 2.3, scoring three goals is usually all the Islanders need to win. But not on Tuesday.
Twenty-seven seconds after giving up a shorthanded goal, Filip Forsberg started the rally on the very same power play. The winger cut the New York lead to 3-2, and then less than two minutes after that, Smith roofed his second of the night to tie the game.
“It feels good,” Smith said of his two-goal outing. “With that being said, a lot of games I’m right there, we’re in the right spots and I haven’t changed much. I’m just trying to get into those pockets and find in a lane to be able to shoot, but I was able to get a good look.”
The Predators weren’t done yet, and Mattias Ekholm’s point shot deflected off of Bonino and into the twine at 18:24 of the second. Less than a minute after that, Rocco Grimaldi went top shelf for his second goal in as many nights to give the Predators a 5-3 lead after 40 minutes.
“It’s a huge win for us,” Grimaldi said. “It was a great response at the end of the second there, and then we just stuck to our game plan. I know, in the past, we’ve kind of sat back on our heels, and sometimes they start coming at us, but I thought today we just kept going.”
The string of goals kept rolling into the third period as well, as Calle Jarnkrok netted his 12th, Roman Josi notched the team’s second man-advantage marker of the night and Ryan Johansen capped off the scoring with the visitor’s eighth goal of the evening.
The need to play well and collect points on this trip was emphasized by those in the Nashville locker room, especially after a 4-1 loss to Dallas at home last Saturday. Now, the Preds have four points in two nights to start the four-game excursion.
“We need points right now,” Grimaldi said. “That’s what we were talking about before coming on this road trip. That it was a four-game road trip against four good teams. We knew that to have a good road trip, you’ve got to start with the first one, and then after the first one, you’ve got to start the second… We can’t control what other teams do, whether they’re winning or losing or going on streaks. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. You can only control what we can control, and I think we can keep putting together good efforts like tonight and we’re going to start climbing back up the standings.”
The win is arguably the Predators’ most significant victory of the month, and on Thursday they’ll attempt to stretch their winning streak to three for the first time since October. The Predators will face the Senators in the third stop of their trip.
“We talked about this as a big week, a season-defining week, maybe,” Bonino said. “We’d love to get all four, but just to start with two is big. It’s tough not to look at the standings right now. We’ve got some games in hand, so these back-to-backs are always huge, and now we’ll go to Ottawa.”
Tonight’s game was just the third time in franchise history the Predators had at least eight different players with at least two points in a single game.
Mikael Granlund (lower-body, day-to-day) and Yannick Weber did not play for the Preds on Tuesday.
With two goals and an assist, Craig Smith recorded his first three-point outing since December of 2017.
The eight goals allowed by the Islanders was the highest total allowed under head coach Barry Trotz.
The four-game trip now halfway complete, the Predators will travel to Ottawa to prepare to face the Senators on Thursday night (at 6:30 p.m. CT) before finishing up on Saturday in Boston.