Being the fifth game back in action since his knee injury to Anaheim on January 26th, it was high time for Hornqvist to find the back of the net. 14 periods and 26 shots later, it couldn’t have come at a better time.
Hornqvist’s 5-on-3 goal, the first two-man advantage goal of the season for Nashville, helped the Predators inch back against the Stars as they completed the comeback in overtime to beat Dallas 5 to 4.
In what looked to be a promising start for Nashville as they led the first period 1-0, finally netting a goal after being shutout in the previous two, the Predators ended up being behind the 8-Ball only 1:45 into the second period as Dallas received goals 25 seconds apart from Fraser and Smith to take a 2-1 lead. It was then that Coach Barry Trotz took his only timeout of the game to settle his team down.
“We can’t start the second period like we did. We let in 2 easy goals, it was bad coverage, it was just a wake up call. Sometimes you have to take a timeout to change something and [Trotz] really stepped up and told us to get going,” said forward Patric Hornqvist.
While Nashville would tie the game 1:20 later with Roman Josi’s first of two goals and four points on the night, the Predators ended up in some penalty trouble that saw the Stars score the first two powerplay goals that Nashville has allowed at home in the previous 21 attempts.
It was at 11:45 of the second period that the momentum firmly shifted into the hands of the Predators as Brandon Yip and Eric Nystrom dropped the gloves. Yip and Nystrom would both go to the box, but Nashville would receive a powerplay as Nystrom collected two extra penalty minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct.
“[Yip's fight] got us a powerplay. Then it ended up being a 5-on-3, we score on that, and we take the momentum from there,” said Hornqvist. “Of course, there was a lot of good things that happened there in the last 38 minutes. We took a fight, Webs made two big hits without his stick, and we get a couple of big momentum goals.”
The ensuing 5-on-3 would see Hornqvist net his first goal since January 21st against St. Louis, a 6-1 win against the Blues. For Hornqvist, it was more a matter of time than anything before he found the back of the net.
“You know it’s always nice to get the first goal out of the way after you get hurt, but I get so many chances so sooner or later it’s going to go in,” said Hornqvist. “I spend a lot of time around the net and today I get a little lucky one. I’ll take that and hopefully I get going here.”
“Yeah, he keeps going to the net, he’s going to get them. We’ve all been snake-bitten with our chances, but it was good. I think anytime you score, you get that confidence. Your hands are lighter, your feet are lighter, and you have a smile on your face,” said Coach Barry Trotz.
Scoring the Predators third goal wouldn’t come without paying a small pittance in front of the net, however. Hornqvist would get a stick to the face immediately after the 5-on-3 goal, cutting the skin right above his cheek. While there was no call afterwards on the play, even though the ref clearly saw the play and checked on the cut, Hornqvist refused to get frustrated over the non-call.
“You can’t get frustrated. If you get frustrated, you’re going to take a stupid penalty or something like that. You have to stay calm and stand up. You know you’re going to get hit in front of the net and we try to do the same to their forwards,” said Hornqvist.
As the Predators found a way to win in another thrilling overtime match, their 10th overtime game in the first 20 games (an NHL high), they’d like to carry this momentum over to their next game on Wednesday night.
“That’s what we have to take to the next game,” said Hornqvist. “We found a way to win. That’s what a good team does.”
Nashville’s next game is against the Anaheim Ducks in Anaheim on Wednesday night. Puck drop is at 9pm CST