Another try at a comeback came up short as the Nashville Predators fell by a 3-1 final on Saturday night at Bridgestone Arena. It’s the second consecutive regulation loss for the Preds, the first time they’ve done so since Dec. 19-21, 2017, but it wasn’t all doom and gloom in the locker room following the contest.
Predators Head Coach Peter Laviolette and Nashville players say Saturday’s effort was a step in the right direction when it comes to playing the way they want to be successful. The Preds could’ve easily had the game tied, as they hit the post at least twice – maybe more – on the night, but the bounces didn’t fall.
And even though they feel they may have played well enough to win, as Laviolette said, it doesn’t matter how many chances the Preds had – it ultimately wasn’t enough.
“I thought we did a lot of good things out there tonight, but at the end of the day it’s not enough,” Laviolette said. “I give Detroit credit, they played hard, they checked hard, they defended hard, they blocked a lot of shots and were able to walk out with the two points.”
“I thought we played well,” Preds defenseman Ryan Ellis said. “We had a lot of shots, we had a lot of good chances and we were competing hard. That’s a fast team over there. They worked just as hard, and they earned that win. I thought we did a lot of good things, but there are obviously still areas to improve. I think from Juuse [Saros] out, we had a solid effort, it just wasn’t there.”
Detroit took a 1-0 lead when Luke Witkowski scored his first NHL goal by beating Saros on a breakaway, and Gustav Nyquist gave his club a 2-0 advantage before the period was out.
After a scoreless second period, Craig Smith gave the Predators life when he scored on the power-play to snap an 0-for-21 streak and get Nashville on the board. But with a minor penalty taken late for either side, Detroit iced it with an empty-net tally to give them the last goal of the night.
“I think we worked hard tonight, and we had a lot of energy,” Predators Captain Roman Josi said. “Everybody cares in this room, and everybody is trying, but we have to get back to 100 percent playing our way. When we are at our best, we get pucks deep. With our forechecking, it’s so hard for other teams to break out – we have zone time, we have a lot of pressure – but we’re doing that a little inconsistently right now. We have to make sure we do that for 60 minutes, and that’s how we win games.”
The Predators will host Ottawa on Monday night before traveling to Detroit to face these same Red Wings on Tuesday – two more chances to get back into the win column and play to the level those in the Nashville room know they’re capable of.
“For me, it was a step in the right direction,” Laviolette said. “A power-play goal [means] we’re doing the right thing out there. At the end of the day, though, like I said you have to score goals. If you score one goal a game you’re going to lose a lot of games. So, we have to find a way to put that puck in the back of the net.”
Saturday’s attendance of 17,561 at Bridgestone Arena set a building record for a hockey game.
Kyle Turris returned to the Nashville lineup after missing Thursday’s game due to illness.
Defensemen Alexei Emelin and Yannick Weber were both healthy scratches on Saturday; blueliners Matt Irwin and Anthony Bitetto took their places in the lineup.
Nashville concludes their four-game home stand on Monday night when the Ottawa Senators come to town before jetting off to Detroit to play the Red Wings once more on Tuesday.