In the span of fewer than eight minutes Thursday night, the Nashville Predators might have changed the tenor of their four-game Eastern Conference road trip.
The Predators will look to build off that dramatic win Friday night, when they complete a back-to-back set by visiting the New Jersey Devils in Newark, N.J.
Eeli Tolvanen’s goal with just 11.5 seconds left Thursday capped a third-period comeback by the Predators, who edged the New York Islanders 4-3 in Elmont, N.Y. The Devils snapped a four-game losing streak Wednesday night, when they blanked the visiting Philadelphia Flyers, 3-0.
The win was the third straight and the fourth in the last five games for the Predators, who trailed 1-0 in the first period and fell behind 3-2 when the Islanders’ Noah Dobson scored 5:08 into the third.
But Nashville collected the next five shots, the last of which was put home from point-blank range by Yakov Trenin to tie the score with 7:29 left. The teams appeared headed for overtime until Dobson’s pass from behind the Islanders net glanced off the boards and to Ryan Johansen, who dished a no-look pass to Roman Josi at the blue line. Josi’s shot into a gaggle of players in front of the net glanced off Tolvanen’s stick and sailed past Semyon Varlamov.
The win put the Predators halfway to a perfect trip. Nashville, which beat the Detroit Red Wings 5-2 on Tuesday night, is slated to end the trek by visiting the New York Rangers on Sunday night.
“I give the Islanders credit, that was a hard-fought, physical game,” Predators head coach John Hynes said Thursday night. “But I think to be able to have that style of game, come from behind twice, down 3-2 with seven minutes left to tie it and then find a way to win it, is something. I mean, you have to find a way to be able to win on the road. It was a hard-fought game, tough environment to play in and our guys stuck with it and got rewarded for it.”
The Devils felt a similar sense of relief Wednesday, when Mackenzie Blackwood stopped all 25 shots he faced as New Jersey authored its second shutout of the season.
“It’s nice to get rewarded for playing solid,” Blackwood said.
It was the second straight strong defensive effort for the Devils, who fell to the Ottawa Senators 3-2 in a shootout Monday following a five-game span in which they were outscored 24-15. That stretch began with a 4-2 loss to the Predators in Nashville on Nov. 26.
The win was just the third in the last 12 games (3-6-3) for the Devils, who haven’t won consecutive games since a three-game winning streak from Nov. 6 through Nov. 11.
“It felt like we really needed a win tonight,” Blackwood said. “It felt like we should have gotten a win last game as well.”
–Field Level Media