The Nashville Predators won their fourth game in a row on Thursday night at the Bridgestone Arena in what may have been the biggest win of the season.
Not only did the Predators come back with three unanswered goals to defeat the Detroit Red Wings 4-3, they managed to do it in regulation time. When Shea Weber scored his second goal of the final period with 1:36 remaining in the contest, it sealed two points for the Preds and prevented the Wings from picking up a point since overtime was avoided.
The win pulled the Predators within three points of the Red Wings and allowed them to also stay within three points of St. Louis in a Central Division race that would have four teams in the playoffs if they were to begin today. Chicago was idle and has a three point lead on the Wings and Blues.
The final goal came after the Nashville sell out crowd's noise level came to a crescendo during a stoppage with 4:14 remaining. Barry Trotz described the occasion. "We're starting to get some home ice belief and again, what happened, 'the miracle moment.' Everybody stands up and right after that, we score. It is amazing."
The game was not an easy one. The first period was well played by both teams and ended 1-1 with a power play goal from Tomas Holstrom and a rebound goal from David Legwand.
The second period was more uneven as Detroit was dominating the zone time and picked up a pair of goals from Henrik Zetterberg and Nicklas Lidstrom. Jordin Tootoo's goal with 2:38 remaining gave the Predators hope.
Trotz felt that "in the second period we weren't executing well coming out of our own zone. We weren't real sharp and ended up in our own zone way too much."
The final period push with two goals by Weber in less than three minutes was truly something the team will build upon in the weeks to come. "In big moments, you need your top players to step up in a big way, and Shea did that today," explained Trotz.
"With a young team it was a big win. It's the third time we've come back from two goal deficits in two weeks so we showed a lot of character and persistence. We got great efforts from everybody."
"It was a good learning experience for our team. They've (Detroit) been a top team and they are playing as good as anybody. They've been tearing teams apart, so it was a good learning experience and a big win."
Nick Spaling was a key player down the stretch and was credited with an assist and provided a distraction for Weber on his game winner. Trotz singled out Spaling's contributions. "Nick Spaling was fantastic. He was sharp and had a lot of battle in him, which he always does. That whole line was strong, Wilson, Tootoo and Spals."
Spaling explained the Predators' uptick in the final period. "We held on to the puck a little bit more and played more of their game. They are a puck possession team and we did what we could to keep it out of their hands."
The Predators scored on their only power play chance to give them a seven game streak of man advantage goals. They moved into second place in the NHL with a 21.5% conversion rate.
Spaling explained the improvement on the man advantage, "We are shooting the puck and getting good net front presence and doing a good job of finishing the chances. It's a huge boost when we get one. They've been doing a great job for us and getting the momentum for us."
Spaling summed up the Predator effort, "The confidence boost was huge. Every two points is big but you want to keep playing to the end and tonight we did that."
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass