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Nashville Predators

Predators vs. Canadiens Plus/Minus: You Can’t Win Them All

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Photo of Gustav Nyquist by John Russell/Nashville Predators

The Nashville Predators’ eight-game win streak was snapped Tuesday night following a 4-3 overtime loss to the Montreal Canadiens at Bridgestone Arena.

While it was a disappointing atmosphere in the locker room after the game, Nashville battled through adversity and squeezed out a much-needed point as it keeps pace in the Western Conference wild-card race. 

With every game you take the good with the bad, so here’s a breakdown of what went right and what didn’t in the Predators OT loss to Montreal Saturday night:

(+) Gustav Nyquist

Nyquist was hands down the best player on the ice, as he was constantly creating scoring chances throughout the game. His line-mates, Ryan O’Reilly and Filip Forsberg, performed strongly as well with all three players finding the back of the net. Nyquist can disappear at times, but you could see he felt that this was a big game where the top guys needed to show up.

The Forsberg-O’Reilly-Nyquist line carried much of the weight for the Predators in what many considered to be a trap game with Montreal out of the playoff picture. 

Nyquist controlled much of the tempo throughout the game, and Forsberg and O’Reilly cycled the puck well and kept Nashville in the game despite not having the depth scoring it had grown accustomed to over the last eight games. This was top-level hockey on this goal.

 

(+) Luke Evangelista

Evangelista had arguably his best period as a Predator in the first period on Tuesday. The chemistry between him and Tommy Novak continues to grow, so it seems like head coach Andrew Brunette has found a pairing he could potentially keep together for years to come.

Evangelista almost buried a picture-perfect pass from Novak about five minutes into the game. He’s getting chances, so the goals will come. It’s good to see him shooting more, but he still needs to start thinking shoot first. Novak is the playmaker on that line; Evangelista just needs to put more pucks on net. 

 

He was creating chances and was all over the ice, finally getting on the scoresheet after sending over a nice pass to Forsberg for the first goal of the game. 

 

There’s a lot of positives to take from Evangelista’s performance, but he seemed to disappear after the strong first. Nashville will hope to see more of that Evangelista going forward. There’s certainly promise there. 

(-) Trouble battling adversity and taking bad penalties 

The night was full of adversity with Nashville starting off slowly, not being able to create too many chances until it managed to draw a penalty and get onto the power play. The Predators seemed to settle down afterward and controlled the game for the most part until they finally found the back of the net on Forsberg’s 30th goal of the season to go into the first intermission up 1-0.

The first line continued its dominance into the second period with Nyquist netting his 17th goal of the season. All things seemed to be moving in the right direction as Nashville went up 2-0, but the hockey gods had a different plan. Following a turnover in the defensive zone, Brendan Gallagher buried a shot point-blank from the high slot to bring Montreal within one.

Then, on a seemingly harmless David Savard dump in from center ice, Montreal received a fortunate bounce to tie it up 2-2. Nashville appeared a bit deflated after the crazy bounce, which gave Montreal hope and a bit of momentum going into the second intermission. 

The Predators needed the adversity, and they continued to battle with the grit that Brunette likes to see. However, Montreal kept pushing and Nashville was unable to take the game back over. O’Reilly put the Predators up 3-2, but the score was tied again only a few minutes later. More adversity came when Michael McCarron’s goal was called off due to high sticking.

At that point, Nashville began looking undisciplined and took a too many men bench minor penalty with less than two minutes remaining in regulation. Although the Predators killed off the penalty going into OT, Nick Suzuki notched the game-winner prior to the Predators regrouping after the penalty expired. Essentially, it was a power play goal in my opinion. 

While the wins streak getting snapped was disappointing, the Predators know they did not bring their best performance Tuesday night. They’ll need to regroup and prepare for another test on Thursday against the Buffalo Sabres, another non-playoff team, come to town.

Videos courtesy of the NHL’s YouTube channel. 

Follow Clay Brewer on Twitter/X: @ClayBrewer10

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