Jan 12, 2014
Nashville lost to the Ottawa Senators 2-1 in a shootout on Saturday night at Bridgestone Arena, but for the sixth time in the team’s last eight games, the Predators managed a point.
“I really thought the second half of the game, we were rolling over the lines,” Predators forward Eric Nystrom said. “We had a lot of opportunities to give ourselves a chance to win and those are the types of games that suit our team – the tight checking, close games. I think we’re good when we play that type of style and not running and gunning. Two points would have been nice, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.”
After battling to a scoreless tie in the first period, the Predators fell behind in the second when Kyle Turris capitalized on a Mattias Ekholm turnover at 6:23 to put Ottawa up 1-0.
With Nashville trailing and with Senators goaltender Craig Anderson seeming very difficult to solve, Nystrom decided to do something about it.
“I was just trying to get the crowd into it and the boys into it,” Nystrom said. “We’ve really been on the bad side of a lot of breaks lately and I really just wanted to punch someone.”
With exactly five minutes remaining in the second period, Nystrom dropped the gloves with Ottawa’s Colin Greening.
After Nashville’s Rich Clune and Ottawa’s Jason Spezza both went off for minor penalties at 15:57, the teams found themselves in a four-on-four situation. A little over a minute later, former Ottawa Senator and current Nashville Predator Mike Fisher buried the puck behind Anderson to tie the game.
To Nashville head coach Barry Trotz, the Nystrom fight was the catalyst.
“It engaged us and it engaged the crowd,” Trotz said. “It engaged our team and everybody. It was one of those moments where they were feeling comfortable in our building and Eric says, ‘That’s enough. Don’t feel comfortable in our building.’ He got the crowd into it, he got the team into it. He forced us to battle harder. Those things can do that. That’s why Eric’s one of those intangible guys that you love. You love him as a player. He’ll do anything for a team. The other night that line didn’t have a great night and no one is more distraught than Eric when it comes to his play and his performance. He always feels like he lets the team down. If you have 20 guys who feel like that every night, you can go a long way as a group. I can say not everyone is like that. Some guys can blow it off really easily…and other guys every moment counts for them and every play counts for them. He’s one of those guys and that’s why he’s an intangible guy for our team. He got us into the battle tonight.”
While Nashville was unable to score again for the remainder of the game, the team generated plenty of chances in front of Anderson, while containing Ottawa’s offense. When all was said and done, Nashville lost the game 2-1 in a shootout, but gained a point in the standings.
The result did not fall into the win column, but Trotz was pleased with the team’s response to at least allow them to make a small amount of progress in the Central Division.
“There’s a lot of resiliency in that room, I’m really proud of how hard we play every night,” Trotz said. “That’s undeniable that we come out and play hard, and that’s really what we have to do every night. We’ve had some difficult stretches where we absolutely deserve to get those two points, but we haven’t been able to do it. We come and play hard every night and that’s something I think everybody in that room can hang their hat on, there’s nothing to complain about.”
The shootout loss was Nashville’s fifth of the season in five chances. It was also the sixth straight overtime or shootout game that the Predators have lost this season. However, the Predators inched a little closer and sit eight points out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
“Obviously, getting two points is huge, but you know it’s good to get one,” Nystrom said. “I think we have been playing well, we just have to keep building and we are going to get our break soon.”
Photo: Sarah Fuqua