Nashville Predators Head Coach Barry Trotz has said with past teams that three goals seems to be the magic number to reach when trying to win a hockey game for the Predators. With a team that normally is very good defensively, three goals will normally give the Predators a chance to at least be competitive in most games, if not win them.
That proved to be the case again on Saturday night as the Predators picked up a 3-2 victory over the New York Islanders. Nashville fell behind 2-1 in the second period but was able to battle back and escape with their second win of the season.
In the two games the Predators have won so far this season, three goals has been the magic number.
“I think the whole league is three goals,” Trotz said. “There’s good teams. That’s a very good hockey team right there. They’ve got some game-breakers in [John] Tavares and [Michael] Grabner and people like that. They play a real good game. Offensively, they are dangerous, and we held that team to 16 shots. I mean they had 11 shots or something like that after two periods.”
Nashville pretty well dominated the Islanders in the first period despite not being able to score. They controlled the play and possessed the puck for most of the first period. They were able to jump out to a 1-0 lead in the second period on a power play goal by Seth Jones, the first of his NHL career.
After that, the Predators seemed to take their foot off the gas a little bit. New York was able to take advantage of that and get two quick goals by Frans Nielsen and John Tavares to take a 2-1 lead. Nashville regained control of the game and got two goals from Patric Hornqvist and Ryan Ellis to retake a lead they would not again relinquish.
“I thought in the second period at about the 10 minute mark, we started having some cheat in our game. And when the cheat came in, they were able to capitalize on a couple situations, but we can control that when we’re committed just staying with the gameplan. I liked our game. I was hoping we could pull away a little bit, but we couldn’t and we found a way to hang on towards the end, which is a typical Preds victory if you will,” Trotz said.
Nashville has struggled to score goals so far this season, notching just nine goals in the first five games. However, Saturday night was the first time all season long that they scored the first goal of the game. That allows them to play the type of game they want to play, which is with the lead.
“We’ve been chasing the game the first four games of the season. We scored first tonight and we get a victory, so I think the guys really did a good job,” Trotz said. “We’ve got lots of ways we can win. I think we can win if it gets a little looser.”
Trotz has full confidence in this Predators group’s ability to score goals, especially once some of their better offensive forwards start to get going offensively.
“There’s nights we’re going to score five or six. I think we’re deep enough as a group, and we have a lot of guys that are defining their roles. Some guys that are good offensive guys are going to score,” Trotz said. “A good example of a guy that I thought played outstanding tonight and hasn’t scored a goal yet is Matt Cullen. He was really good. He was dangerous, he was making plays, he had a couple of good chances. Once he gets on the board and you get Stalberg back and going, and our defense are starting to contribute from the back end, then we’re going to be able to get some nights when a team’s maybe not as detailed or the goaltender is not as good as they have been against us, we’ll be able to score four or five goals.”
Nashville hopes Saturday night’s win over the Islanders will be a game off of which they can build. Other than the brief lapse in the second period, the Predators were suffocating on defense and opportunistic on offense. That’s going to be the formula the Predators will have to follow this season if they’re going to be a successful team.