Predators Insider: Preds beat Colorado again
Before the beginning of this home and home set with Colorado, the Predators knew they needed all four points. But it seemed like a pipe dream. With their 3-2 overtime win over the Avalanche, the Predators have put themselves four points clear of Colorado with a total of 52 points to Colorado's 48. Coming into this series, Nashville was only one point ahead of the Avalanche. It was also Nashville's seventh consecutive victory over Colorado, dating back to the 2009-10 season.
Most importantly for Nashville, it has found some consistency with its defensive identity. Over the last seven games, the Predators have allowed just 14 goals. On top of that, they are one goal up in the standings goal differential. Only once, since the lockout, has a team from the Western Conference made the postseason with a negative standings goal differential.
On top of Nashville's stellar defensive performances, the Predators have figured out ways to claw back in games and win them after getting down early. Nashville now has six wins in which it has come back from two goals or more. Last season, the Predators only had three.
On Thursday, a lot of this had to do with goaltender Pekka Rinne. Rinne let in two bad goals early, but made all the necessary saves to allow his team to come back.
In their next three contests, the Predators will take on a trio of Eastern Conference teams in Philadelphia, the Islanders and Rangers. It'll be a good test to see how they stack up against two of the East's better teams in Philly and the Rangers.
The Predators landed three players in All-Star weekend. Defensemen Shea Weber and Ryan Suter were selected by the NHL for the actual team. It was Weber's third selection and Suter's first. Rookie center Craig Smith was picked to take part of the skills competition.
"I'm still kind of getting my feet wet a little bit, and I get to go to an event where some of the best players in the world are going to be," Smith said. "It's a pretty humbling experience to see your name on a list with those guys."
G Pekka Rinne brushed off two goals in 12:17 of the first period, and turned aside the rest of Colorado's shots to pick up the victory. Rinne made 27 saves in the win. Following the game, Nashville's players said they wanted to come back for Rinne.
"We all know he's going to be there for us and we have to be there for him," C David Legwand said. "That's what the guys do in here, they stick up for each other and we stood up for him (Thursday)."
C David Legwand is becoming a clutch player for the Predators. Legwand scored his second overtime winner for Nashville. His first game on Nov. 5 at San Jose. He also netted the shootout winner in the Predators' Dec. 17 win over the St. Louis Blues.
"Leggy, he has a little bit of a penchant for getting the big goals this year," coach Barry Trotz said.
QUOTE TO NOTE
"You focus on the next shot to start building up your confidence again. Your confidence takes a hit after a couple of those goals, but at the end of the day, you've played the game for a long time, and (you) try to forget it and look forward." -- G Pekka Rinne.
C David Legwand scored two goals. It was the second time this season he had scored an overtime winner. The first was at San Jose on Nov. 5.
D Shea Weber capped off a day when he was selected to his third All-Star game with an assist. Weber leads the Predators with 31 points on the season.
By playing 24:55, D Ryan Suter fell under the 27-minute average ice-time number. Suter now averages 26:57. Coming into the game, he was one of two players in the league who averaged 27 minutes or higher.
RW Jerred Smithson (lower body) is day-to-day.