Holding a 3-2 lead heading into the third period, the Nashville Predators allowed two third-period goals to Alex DeBrincat and Jake Walman before surrendering the game-winner to Lucas Raymond 2:13 into overtime to fall 5-4 to the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena on Friday.
Every game you take the good with the bad, so here’s a look at what went right and what didn’t in the Predators’ loss Friday.
(-) Another blown third-period lead
For the seventh time this season, the Predators allowed the tying or go-ahead goal in the third period. Despite besting the Red Wings 9-6 in shots, 7-4 in scoring chances for, and 5-1 in high-danger chances for in the period, the Predators surrendered two goals within a minute and 44 seconds.
While the Predators have made some notable strides with head coach Andrew Brunette this season, they’ve failed to learn to closeout games under his watch. Nashville would likely be close to the top of the Central Division standings if it could reduce its third-period meltdowns by half.
(+) Two-goal nights from Filip Forsberg, Gustav Nyquist
One of the hottest scorers in the league, Forsberg is now tied for 10th in goals (18) after his fifth multi-goal game of the season. He followed up an 11-goal, 19-point November with six goals and 14 points in 14 games in December, continuing his more than point-per-game scoring pace.
Conversely, Nyquist has tallied seven goals and 22 points in 27 games since the beginning of November, and he’s really found a home playing on the top line next to Forsberg and Ryan O’Reilly.
(-) Juuse Saros has another off night
Though he was on a heater from Nov. 20 to Dec. 16, Saros has performed at a sub-par level in four of his last five games. Over that span, he’s allowed 20 goals with a save percentage below .800 three times, and he’s been pulled twice.
Sure, he had a highlight-reel save late in the first period, but some of his mistakes were glaringly obvious against the Red Wings. Some of the goals he allowed came from between the face-off dots and the high slot with no considerable traffic in front of him to shield his vision.
(+) Penalty kill
Special teams has been Nashville’s Achilles heel for much of the season, and after allowing three power-play goals on six opportunities against the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday, the Predators’ penalty kill shut down Detroit’s 14th-ranked power-play on Friday. While a small victory, it’s a positive sign for a PK unit ranked 25th in the league to go 10-for-11 in four of its last five games.
(-) No longer undefeated in overtime
And then there were two. Until Friday’s loss, the Predators were one of three teams along with the Ottawa Senators and Anaheim Ducks to not suffer an overtime loss this season. Considering the caliber of opponent the Predators have defeated in OT — Toronto, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Carolina — making it to Game 36 without an overtime blemish was an impressive feat.
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