Nashville, Tn — Things looked pretty bleak for the Nashville Predators tonight after the first intermission, trailing the lowly Vancouver Canucks, 2-0. With Nashville in a real battle for the central division title of the Western Conference, and the St. Louis Blues bearing down on the Preds, this game had real significance.
Not only does Nashville want to win their division, but they want home ice advantage throughout the Stanley Cup playoffs and it all seemed to be slipping away in this game tonight.
First, Markus Granlund backhanded the puck past Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne after taking a perfect pass from Quinn Hughes and the Canucks led 1-0.
Then in what has to be one of the strangest goals this season, Tanner Pearson ripped a shot that bounced off the crossbar, then bounced off of Rinne and into the net for the 2-0 lead.
That’s the way the first period would end, with the Predators trying to figure out how they were going to get themselves out of this “trick sack” and not fold going down the stretch.
Enter Colton Sissons, who’s been playing some great hockey of late. Just 37 seconds into the second frame, Sissons fired a wrist shot on net that snuck through the legs of Jacob Markstrom and “tippy toed” into the net and the Preds had cut the lead in half, 2-1. The call on the ice was no goal because of an early whistle from the referee.
But on video review it was determined that the puck kept rolling towards the net and the score was given to the Preds, much to the disagreement from Vancouver.
Into the third period, Vancouver was getting tired as Nashville was putting more offensive pressure on the Canucks, giving themselves scoring opportunities that just wouldn’t go in. Call it “puck luck” but the Preds just weren’t getting any of it.
Then at 15:40 of the third period, Nick Bonino found a spot down low and cashed in a rebound to tie the game at 2-2. You could hardly hear yourself think at that point as the Smashville fans turned up the volume just a notch, on a game that looked like it wasn’t going to go their way.
With time winding down and the game looking like it was headed to overtime, Ryan Johansen did what “Joey” has been known to do and that’s put the goal in the net, at the most critical times.
With the Predators on a mad rush to the Vancouver net, and only 21 seconds remaining in regulation, Johansen slapped a backhand that deflects off a stick and past Markstrom, and the Predators took the lead for the first time of the game, 3-2.
That would prove to be the final score of the game, and at the end of the night, Nashville sits atop the central division of the Western Conference, because the Winnipeg Jets lost to Colorado. Nashville now has 98 points while the Jets and the Blues have 97.
That puts all the pressure on their final game of the season, which is Saturday night in Nashville against the Chicago Blackhawks. Should be a whale of a game with so much on the line.
Puck drops at 7pm