It’s a rare loss at home for the Preds – just their third of the season – in their first-ever meeting with Vegas, but on a night that saw the home team come back in the third period to earn a point in the standings, there was still reason stay positive following the contest.
“I really liked our game,” Nashville Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. “I liked the way we fought back, and I thought we were doing a lot of good things… I think for the most part, I thought we played a pretty solid, 60-minute game.”
“I thought we played hard,” Predators Captain Roman Josi said. “They are a good team. They play fast. We showed a lot of character coming back, and I think the guys worked hard. There are definitely things we could have done better; we had a lead again and we have to find a way to protect it. But overall, I thought the guys played hard, and they are a good hockey team over there.”
Vegas exited the first period with a 1-0 lead, courtesy of William Karlsson, and then former Preds winger James Neal made it 2-0 with a score in his first game back in Nashville after spending the past three seasons with the Preds. But before the second stanza was out, Calle Jarnkrok finished off a nifty passing play from Filip Forsberg and Pontus Aberg to get the Predators on the board by beating P.K. Subban’s brother, Malcolm, for Nashville’s first of the night.
In the third, Viktor Arvidsson and Nick Bonino scored to give the Preds their first lead of the evening, but Erik Haula tied it for Vegas with 40 seconds to play in regulation to force overtime and then a shootout. It took six rounds to finally decide things as Reilly Smith beat Pekka Rinne for the win.
“I think the main thing, no matter what the score is, is that we have go to stick to the plan and you have to keep playing the same way,” Josi said. “If you are trailing, you can go for all or nothing plays… I think the main thing is just sticking to the plan and playing the same way.”
Nashville’s first look at Vegas left the Preds impressed with their opponents, a matchup with two clubs who possess plenty of speed and skill.
“They have a lot of fast players and they are a good team,” Josi said. “There’s a reason for them to be that high up in the standings; it’s not just a fluke.”
Ultimately, Nashville still has points in four-straight games, and by hitting the 40-point mark, they sit even with St. Louis for first in the Central Division. It’s a total they’ll try to add to when they play Wednesday to begin a Western Canadian swing, a chance to build on Friday’s efforts.
“I feel like we didn’t get frustrated, and we just kept going,” Arvidsson said. “We’ve scored a lot of goals this season and [we] have confidence in the team.”
Prior to Friday’s game, Nashville recalled goaltender Anders Lindback from Milwaukee and assigned Juuse Saros. The Predators also placed forward Ryan Johansen on Injured Reserve.
Viktor Arvidsson is now two points away from 100 in his NHL career.
Now that they’ve completed a stretch of 13 games in 25 days, the Preds will now see four days between contests before heading to Western Canada. Nashville faces Vancouver on Wednesday of next week before making stops in Edmonton and Calgary.