It looked like the Nashville Predators were down and out.
The Montreal Canadiens had come into Bridgestone Arena and jumped out to a commanding 3-0 lead on just five shots on goal. Marek Mazanec had been pulled from the game in favor of Carter Hutton, and the Predators had what seemed like an insurmountable three-goal deficit to overcome. However, Matt Hendricks wasn’t about to go down without a fight. Literally.
Hendricks dropped the gloves with Travis Moen just 1:20 after the Canadiens had scored their third goal of the game. After the fight was over, Hendricks skated over to the Nashville bench to head down to the locker room. Before he went down the tunnel, Hendricks started yelling at his teammates by the bench trying to get them into the game.
“I don’t really remember what I said. It was kind of along the lines of ‘Let’s pick it up, let’s get it going.’ The game was still available, still had a chance to win it. That’s kind of what I said I think,” Hendricks said with a smile.
Whatever Hendricks said, it seemed to work. The Predators were able to battle back in the second and third periods to tie the game and force overtime. David Desharnais scored the game-winning goal for Montreal in overtime after Mattias Ekholm was taken down by what appeared to be a penalty. There was no call. However, the Predators managed to get a point after it looked like they were about to get blown out of their own building in the first period.
“We played a good game,” Hendricks said. “That’s the type of hockey that this team needs to play. That’s the type of brand of hockey we need to bring every night. We played a solid 40 minutes tonight, played solid in overtime. We’ll have to see what happened there at the end. It kind of looked like it tripped us, but those things happen in a hockey game.”
Hendricks’ fight and outburst on the bench afterward seemed to be the turning point in the game for the Predators. Nashville really controlled most of the play in the second and third periods and looked like a completely different team than they did in the first period.
“[Hendricks] is part of it, and that’s part of keeping guys accountable. A lot of stuff stemmed from our leadership, and he’s part of the leadership and character in the room,” said Predators head coach Barry Trotz.
Even though the Predators managed to get a point when it looked like that was not going to happen, the fact that they have gone winless in their past three games still holds true. Nashville has been a streaky team all season long. Now, they’ve got to figure out a way to get back on the winning side of a streak.
“We need to look at what we did tonight in the last 40, plus overtime,” Hendricks said. “We need to keep going, we need to play that type. We need to be ready for the next one and get a win.”