If an eight-round shootout is what it's going to take for the Predators to eke out a win, so be it. Rocco Grimaldi- Patron Saint of Timely Goals- came to the rescue, sealing a 4-3 win over Columbus and preventing a three-game losing streak from succeeding a three-game win streak.
Tonight's game against the Blue Jackets was far from pretty; the Preds took a 2-0 lead in the first period, then promptly gave up three goals and 20 shots in the second. Colton Sissons tied the game back up near the end of the second frame, with his first goal since Dec. 12 against Buffalo (he missed almost all of January due to injury). The Preds' win also forced an eighth straight loss (0-3-5 record) for the injury-riddled Blue Jackets.
Despite the fact that both teams scored three goals, tonight's game was predestined to be a war of attrition between the goalies: Elvis Merzlikins and Juuse Saros. Before tonight, Columbus ranked fifth overall in shots on goal this season, with 2,007. The Preds ranked eighth, with 1,989. Each "tendie" had to have skated onto the ice at Bridgestone Arena knowing they were going to be battered with pucks- and they were, with the final shot count coming in at 43-36 in favor of the Blue Jackets.
In his second game back from injury, Ryan Ellis was one of just two skaters on both teams to record a +2 rating on the ice, with Mikael Granlund being the second. Ellis has four shots on goal, three blocks, and nabbed the secondary assist on Ryan Johansen's opening goal. In the fourth round of the shootout with Columbus' Gustav Nyquist having put the Jackets on the brink of a win, Ellis came up big with a goal that kept the Preds alive for another four rounds.
Filip Forsberg redeemed his past couple games with a pair of assists last night, marking his first point since the St. Louis game last Sunday.
Matt Duchene against finished without a point against the team he spent half the 2018-19 season with. In his last 10 games, Duchene has just four points (one goal, three assists) and 18 shots on goal; if you're counting, that means he's averaging fewer than two shots per game. Viktor Arvidsson had another rough night, accounting for just one shot on goal and finishing the night with a -1 rating.
Juuse Saros continued the Preds' string of good goaltending with 40 saves on Columbus' 43 shots, which put his evening at a .930 save percentage. Saros' save count last night bumped his season total to 811, surpassing his career-high of 796 in a single season. The heir-apparent to Pekka Rinne's throne has now made his most career starts (32) in a single season.
The Preds are now one game into a five-game homestand and will take on the Senators this Tuesday. The Preds lost the last meeting with Ottawa in overtime on Dec. 19, with Anthony Duclair, Brady Tkachuk, and Jean-Gabriel Pageau all recording two-point nights. Ottawa is 3-6-1 in their last 10 games and will be on the tail end of a back-to-back when they come to Nashville.
Winnipeg lost to Philadelphia last night, which puts the Preds behind them in the Central Division standings by one point. At this very moment, the Jets are squaring off with Buffalo with a chance for a wider playoff berth at stake.