After playing eight of their previous nine games on the road, and having another at Ottawa postponed because of COVID protocols, the Nashville Predators were glad to finally start a three-game homestand on Monday with a 3-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks.
Ryan Johansen and Yakov Trenin each had a goal and an assist and Juuse Saros, pulled after allowing five goals on 19 shots in a 6-3 loss at Montreal on Saturday, bounced back to make 29 saves for Nashville in just its second home game in the month of November.
Next up for the Predators is a home date with the Vegas Golden Knights on Wednesday.
“Nash-Vegas, it’s good to be back,” Johansen told the home crowd after being named the first star of the game against the Ducks. “It feels like we’ve been on the road a long time. Couple more games here before we go back on the road, so we’ll keep it going.”
The Predators blocked 15 shots and also snapped Troy Terry’s 16-game point streak while grinding out their first victory in three games.
“That’s our mentality … work first,” said Johansen. “It’s a cliche thing but we try to outwork 20 other men every night. It makes it easier playing in front of (home fans) and having lots of fun.”
It was the fourth home win in a row for Nashville in a streak that goes back to Oct. 26. The Predators improved to 5-3-0 on home ice.
“I don’t think it was a perfect game by any means, but as we all know, it’s really hard to win in this league,” Johansen said. “We’ve done a lot of traveling lately and had some juice from our fans being back here tonight, and we found a way to win a hockey game.”
Added Nashville coach John Hynes: “I thought it was a hard-fought battle. Anaheim’s a good team. … We got better as the game (went) on. Special teams were a major factor — both of them were really good — and I liked our compete, I liked our toughness, and it’s a good win. A good win against a really good team, good start to the homestand.”
Vegas will be playing the second game of a two-game road trip that started with a 5-2 loss at St. Louis on Monday. The Golden Knights, prone to slow starts this season, actually took a 2-0 lead in the first 6:50 on goals by Chandler Stephenson and Reilly Smith, but then gave up five unanswered goals, including three in the span of 2:15 midway through the first period.
“We got the start we wanted for a change,” Vegas coach Peter DeBoer said. “Then we let them back in the game. The first goal was a bad angle, and then we turn one over for a breakaway.
“If you’re going to win on the road in this league, you can’t beat yourself. I thought that was the case in the first period. We made some mistakes and had some penalties, and that’s a recipe for disaster when you’re on the road.”
The Golden Knights could get a boost on the injury front Wednesday. Left wing Max Pacioretty, who has missed the last 17 games after fracturing a bone in his left foot in an Oct. 14 game at Los Angeles, traveled with the team after returning to practice last Saturday. DeBoer said the 33-year-old Pacioretty, who had a team-high 24 goals last season, is day to day.
–Field Level Media