After the Rangers scored four straight, Roman Josi brought the Preds back to within one with two minutes to play in regulation when he finished off a slick passing play, but that was as close as the Preds came to forcing overtime.
“They have a lot of team speed. They’re constantly making sure you have them in check,” Preds Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. “I actually think it takes a bit away from you offensively because the more you press and something turns over, the more they’re willing to fly, so it’s a dangerous group they have.”
A P.K. Subban slapper generated a low rebound that Cody McLeod spun and deposited into a gaping cage for a 1-0 Nashville lead in the first period. New York seemed to own the lionshare of quality chances in the opening 20 minutes, but it was the Preds who emerged with the advantage.
Calle Jarnkrok stretched the visitors’ advantage to two goals with his 10th at 3:50 of the second, but the Rangers would not fade away quietly.
First, Matt Irwin’s clearing attempt deflected off an official to Kevin Hayes, who dished to Michael Grabner for an in-tight bid that cut Nashville’s lead in half. Roughly six minutes later, a New York 2-on-1 with Hayes and J.T. Miller resulted in an all-square contest through two periods.
“They got some fortuitous bounces tonight,” Laviolette said of the Rangers. “One of the goals was off the referee’s skate, comes out to the middle and it’s in the back of the net… they got some bounces that went their way. I thought after the first seven or eight minutes, we were working, generating chances, but they’re going to get chances, they’re a good hockey club.”
At 5:36 of the final frame, Chris Kreider zipped in front of the net as a shot arrived and deflected the puck in for his 22nd of the campaign. Nashville challenged to see if the play was offside, but the goal was upheld. Miller added New York’s fourth of the night before they hung on to hand the Preds just their second regulation loss after scoring the game’s first goal this season.
“They’re a fast team, and they have some fast players,” center Ryan Johansen said. “I think it took a little while to adjust to it, and we got a two-goal lead, exactly what we wanted, but [they had a] couple lucky bounces on their goals, too. And myself, I had three chances right in front and I have to find ways to get those in the net because I miss my chance they come right back down and score.”
The Predators now return to Nashville for a weekend doubleheader, with four more huge points available for the taking, before a mandatory five-day break beginning Monday.
Pete Weber’s Postgame Report