One week ago, the Nashville Predators were riding high, as their 3-0 win over the Ottawa Senators on Jan. 9 gave them a 5-0-1 run that put them within striking distance of the wild-card chase.
The tide has turned.
Heading into Monday’s home clash with the Calgary Flames, the Predators are on a three-game skid, with the latest defeat Saturday’s 5-3 home-ice loss to the Buffalo Sabres.
“It’s like two steps forward, one step back, two steps forward, one step back,” coach John Hynes said. “It’s that consistency to win more regularly. That part of our game, that part of our mindset, has to get better.”
As disappointing as the Buffalo loss was to the Predators, who are now seven points out of a playoff position, the game wasn’t a disaster.
It was tied 3-3 after two periods before the Sabres — a team that can score in bunches — pulled away thanks to a short-handed marker.
“We felt pretty good going into the third and it’s obviously an unfortunate way to lose, to give up a goal on the power play,” captain Roman Josi said. “Going into the third in a tie game, we’ve got to find a way to win.”
With Nashville’s position in the standings, and the need to vault a few teams over the second half of the season to earn a playoff spot, the margin for error is shrinking and the mistakes that led to their last defeat can’t be duplicated.
“It was a good, hard-fought game and when it comes to tight games like that, it’s those little details that are a big difference,” Hynes said.
The Flames arrive in Nashville riding a two-game winning streak and looking to close out a positive road trip on a winning note.
Calgary claimed a wild 6-5 win Saturday in Dallas — the Flames staked a 6-1 lead and held on to the final buzzer — and boast a 2-0-2 record on this trip.
The Flames, who sport an 11-4-6 record in their last 21 games and sit in a wild-card spot, must turn the page on a game that should have been a cakewalk but ended up a nail-biter.
“I wasn’t anxious,” coach Darryl Sutter said. “Anxious is usually if you’re scared or don’t know what you’re doing.”
Then again, positives can be found easily in a much-needed win.
“Two points. That’s what it is in this league,” goalie Dan Vladar said. “No one’s asking about the score is. Just the two points are the thing that matters the most. It’s better to win 6-5 than lose 1-0.”
Plus, the coaching staff has plenty of ammunition to use to remind the players the importance of always maintaining focus and how quickly things can change when the other side gains momentum.
“We’ve been playing well … We let (off) in the third period, but still, we’ve got to take that as a learning curve,” winger Jonathan Huberdeau said. “We got the two points we wanted. We’ve been putting up a lot of points lately, so we’ve got to keep doing what we’re doing.”
–Field Level Media