It took some time for the Nashville Predators offense to come alive on Thursday.
Once it did, the floodgates opened.
The third period has typically been the Predators’ Achilles heel this season, but that wasn’t the case in Minnesota as Alexandre Carrier, Filip Forsberg and Roman Josi scored three straight goals in the final period to lead Nashville (26-21-1) to a 3-2 victory over the Wild (21-22-5) at Xcel Energy Center.
With every game you take the good with the bad, so here’s a breakdown of what went right and what didn’t during the Predators’ 13th win in one-goal games:
(+) Goals arrive just in time
Minnesota forward Joel Eriksson’s tip-in goal was the only chance converted by either team until Nashville’s late flurry.
Carrier tied the score when he was left alone in the slot and wristed a shot over the right shoulder of Minnesota goaltender Filip Gustavsson 1:44 into the third period. The Predators defenseman now has three goals in January and a career-high four this season.
Less than a minute later, Forsberg tipped in Josi’s shot from the point to put Nashville up 2-1. Josi also added some insurance when his wrist shot bounced off Wild defenseman Brock Faber and into the net with less than nine minutes to play.
— Nashville Predators (@PredsNHL) January 26, 2024
Thursday was only the third time this season the Predators pulled out a victory when trailing after two periods. It was a crucial two points considering Minnesota (47 points) is one of several teams behind Nashville in the race for the final Western Conference wild-card spot, which currently belongs to the Predators (53 points).
(-) Offense disappears in second period
Outside of a would-be Michael McCarron goal that was called off for a high stick, Nashville didn’t muster much offense in the first two periods.
That continued a concerning trend from the past few weeks. The Predators entered the game having lost three of their last four thanks in large part to scoring just five goals during that span.
The Predators managed only four shots and the same amount of scoring chances in the second period against the Wild. Although Nashville broke through in the third, it’s become increasingly clear the team will need to find more consistent scoring to seriously contend should it make the postseason.
To their credit, the Predators used their defense and physicality to their advantage Thursday even when the offense was struggling. McCarron and Cole Smith both dropped the gloves for back-to-back fights in the second period, and Nashville out-hit Minnesota 23-13 and blocked 15 shots.
— Bally Sports: Preds (@PredsOnBally) January 26, 2024
(+) Juuse Saros keeps hot streak going
If the Predators had not rallied late, it would’ve been difficult to place much blame on goalie Jusse Saros, who stopped 22-of-24 shots.
Minnesota scored both its goals on the power play. Otherwise, Saros added to his recent run of solid performances since allowing 10 combined goals in back-to-back home losses to Calgary and Anaheim earlier this month.
In his last six games, Saros has logged a .930 save percentage with a 2.00 goals-against average. His return to form is a big reason why the Predators remain in the playoff hunt.
Follow Russell Vannozzi on X/Twitter @RussellV_MSP.