Monday, December 19, 2011
The Nashville Predators are currently riding a five-game winning streak heading into tonight's game against the Washington Capitals. During that span, the Predators have seen their fair share of late game heroics.
It all started on December 8 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus. The Predators were down 3-1 with less than two minutes remaining in regulation, and were able to come back and tie the game at three to send it to overtime. Colin Wilson scored the game-winning goal in overtime to catapult Nashville to a dramatic victory.
A game like the Columbus game can go a long way toward building confidence late in games. Nashville has put that confidence on display on several occasions during the past few weeks.
"I think we've shown some good signs of just not giving up. Sometimes you win one like we did in Columbus and you really gain some confidence in third periods," said Predators centerman Mike Fisher.
Trailing late in games is never something that teams want to have to deal with, but the Predators seem to have the confidence to keep battling in those games where they find themselves on the wrong end of the scoreboard with not a lot of time left. The Predators seem to become more aggressive in late game situations where they are trailing.
"Sometimes you'll change your gameplan a little bit where (defensemen) are joining and you're trying to take a few chances," Fisher said.
During this five-game winning streak, those chances have paid off. The Predators have found themselves trailing or tied in the third period in all five games.
One thing that has really helped the Predators in the third period this year has been the power play. In the game against Detroit on December 15, Nashville's power play got the game-tying goal when Shea Weber fired a laser past Jimmy Howard.
"Our power play has been really timely this year and has scored when we needed it to," Fisher said.
Hockey is just like anything else in life. If you've done it before, you have the confidence to be able to do it again. In Nashville's playoff series against the Anaheim Ducks last season, they were able to come back in the third period of a critical Game 5 matchup to tie the game. They eventually won in overtime on a goal by Jerred Smithson. Nashville has continued to show their resiliency so far this year despite being a very young team.
If the Predators are able to continue their resilient ways late in games, it will have a huge benefit for them in the Western Conference playoff race for the rest of the season.
Of course, it would be easier on the cardiovascular health of PredNation if they just started winning by five goals a game.
(Photo Credit: Leanne Charles)