The Nashville Predators did the unthinkable with a second straight miracle comeback victory against division rival, Columbus at the Bridgestone Arena on Thursday night.
Preds coach Barry Trotz was elated after the game. "We had a comeback the last game we played in their building. They’re up two goals with two minutes to go in the game and we come back and win. We knew that if we could just stay in it long enough that they would be a little bit nervous, that’s just the way their year has gone."
"We stayed with it and got rewarded. That to me was a huge character victory. We could have quit many times during that game. Every time we got a little momentum, they scored, and we stayed with it. To me that shows great character and that’s something you can’t teach."
Martin Erat's breakaway goal with 8.4 seconds left on the clock broke a 5-5 tie to give the Preds a most unlikely win after the team was down by three goals twice. Scoring the final four goals of the game was the the story line of how the Preds were able to overcome a seemingly insurmountable deficit.
The Predators were never really outplayed by the Blue Jackets but gave up three goals in 1:39 period during a Brian McGrattan interference major that got him booted from the contest late in the opening period.
In spite of being down 4-1 at the end of the opening period, Trotz was still positive. "I said after the first period that it came too easy. I’ve seen this so many times in the past where something comes too easy for a team and you get a big lead and all you have to do is chip away because there’s a ton of time left and we did that."
Trotz continued, "I thought the whole key was the shift that Nick Spaling, Jordin Tootoo, and Colin Wilson had - they got the goal right back (8:53, second period to make it 5-3). They got the momentum going again and we were within striking distance so we stayed with it and a lot of credit to everybody."
Nick Spaling's value to the team continues to grow. In addition to the key goal, he had three shots, was a plus one, and had 20 face-offs, going 12-8, to tie David Legwand for the most in the game. "It's nice to be able to contribute offensively and the faceoffs, I need to keep going on those."
Spaling explained how big the turn-around win was for this team. "It's huge. Going down early like that can deflate you on the bench but we stuck with it and played the second and third the way we were supposed to."
He continued, "Our first (period) was lacking of some details that we talked about before the game and we turned it around in the second when we started to play our game again. We need to work on putting the whole sixty minutes together."
Spaling gave his version of what the team was told during the first intermission. "We were told that we need to body up. They've got big skilled guys and that we need to take time and space away, block shots, stop letting them get second chances, and play our game."
Pekka Rinne got the win in spite of giving up five goals to improve his record to 16-9-4. The plan is for him to play again on Friday and Trotz did not lose confidence and pull Rinne in spite of the Columbus offensive outburst.
Trotz explained, "It was one of those games where everything found the back of his net. I thought Peks played well but it was just one of those nights where it was some good goal-tending and some lucky breaks (for Columbus)."
Spaling looked forward to Friday's game in Dallas and the take-aways from Thursday's win. "The guys are pretty high right now but we need to look at our first period and build to play a whole game but a win like this is big and makes us feel pretty good going back to back."
Trotz was pragmatic about the quick turn around with a trip to Dallas for a game on Friday night. "It is what it is. We've got to play back to backs and we'll drain the tanks tomorrow and then have two days off."
The Predators will return home after Friday night's game against the Stars and regroup for the morning skate on Monday to prepare for the evening clash with Detroit at the Bridgestone Arena.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass