Predators face tough stretch
The question before Sunday’s Predators game against the Chicago Blackhawks was Nashville’s exhaustion level. The Predators played the night before. The Blackhawks last played Wednesday. The Predators showed they had the necessary energy to defeat Chicago 6-1 in their home building.
The victory gave the Predators some important breathing room in the standings. Nashville now has 96 points to Chicago’s 92. The Predators also jumped the Detroit Red Wings in the standings. Nashville has 96 points to Detroit’s 95 — though the Wings have a game in hand. The Predators also have 40 regulation and overtime wins, two more than Detroit and three more than Chicago.
The Predators said they got away from their defense-first game leading into the weekend. They had allowed 11 goals in their previous two games before Saturday. In their last two contests, the Predators allowed just two goals. Goaltender Pekka Rinne backstopped both. Their offensive output of six scores matched a season high.
Nashville’s schedule won’t get any easier this week. The Predators continue their march through the Central Division’s toughest teams. They play St. Louis on Tuesday and then Detroit on Friday. They finish off this slate with another back-to-back against Chicago on Saturday. Wins in all three contests could put the Predators in prime position to get the fourth playoff seed in the Western Conference.
-Earlier in the year, the thought of LW Jordin Tootoo as a healthy scratch was far from anyone’s mind. At one point, he was driving Nashville’s forwards and had six points in a seven-game stretch. He quickly blew by his career-high point total of 18 and currently sits on 29 points.
Saturday night against Winnipeg, the Predators decided to sit Tootoo. He was briefly back in the lineup Sunday before suffering an upper-body injury in a fight with Brandon Bollig early in the first period. The Predators said he was “fine” following the game.
“You have to be a professional about it. We’re all in it together and we’re the ones that don’t make the decisions,” Tootoo said. “We have to go about our business and bring the right attitude every day. It’s all about working together and helping each other out.”
-Sunday, Nashville was in a back-to-back situation when it played the Chicago Blackhawks. Chicago hadn’t played since Wednesday. The Blackhawks had won five in a row going into Sunday’s game. For the Predators, they’d rather stay in game-mode. The Predators used the schedule to their advantage with a 6-1 win.
“For us, it’s always been playing,” D Shea Weber said. “The rest is key but the more you can continue to play and get on the same page, especially with a bunch of new guys, it’s better for us.”
-There was little worry on the part of the Predators that LW Alexander Radulov wouldn’t be OK for his first NHL back-to-back in four years. Radulov returned from four seasons in the KHL last Tuesday. The forward had an assist and set a screen on D Francis Bouillon’s third-period goal.
“The way he’s wired, he pushes himself pretty hard,” coach Barry Trotz said. “He really competes with pucks in the corners. He really battles and has second effort on plays. He makes stuff happen, not because he has great skill, but because the second-effort stuff is really good and that’s why he can do some of those things.”
QUOTE TO NOTE
“Our foundation is still hard work and we can’t get away from that. It doesn’t matter who we have in the lineup, or how many offensive guys we have, that’s still our game. We have to be solid defensively, work hard and keep it simple. The offensive part of the game is going to come. I think tonight was a good example of that.”– G Pekka Rinne.