The Nashville Predators pulled off a dramatic victory at Bridgestone Arena on Thursday night, beating the Calgary Flames 4-3 in overtime. The win helped the Preds remain in a playoff spot for the time being, though in the final minute of regulation, it looked like that wouldn’t happen.

With the game tied 2-2, Flames winger Andrew Mangiapane scored to put the Flames ahead with only 43 seconds remaining in the game. Hoping to at least get to overtime and secure a point in the standings, the Preds had to regroup to tie the game late.

Mikael Granlund did just that, scoring with one-tenth of a second remaining, sending Preds fans into a frenzy.

It was a big moment for Granlund, but he wasn’t done yet. With just over a minute gone in overtime, Granlund carried the puck into the Calgary zone, crossed in front of the defense, and fired the puck by goalie David Rittich for the game winning goal.

Game over, Preds win 4-3.

“That’s hockey sometimes. Entertaining for sure,” Granlund said of the crazy finish at home.

Of note, it was only the 4th time in NHL history that a player had scored the game tying goal in the final 10 seconds of a game, then also scored the game winner in overtime. For Granlund, it was just another example of the team’s hard work and spirit to stay in the game.

“It’s obviously fun, but at the same time that really doesn’t matter. Whoever [scores the goal] that’s the main point. We need these points. Tonight it was me, but like I said it was quite the game and we found a way again.”

To Granlund, it was the team’s fight and mental effort that helped them stay in the game, despite the late goal by Calgary.

“We just keep playing. They scored their third goal, and we just try to go out there and try to play the right way and we got rewarded. Just go out there, keep playing, keep believing.”

Preds overcome tough effort from Flames

John Hynes’ balanced forward lines were on display again tonight, most notably with Ryan Johansen matched up with two “bottom six” wingers in Colin Blackwell and Colton Sissons for the 2nd consecutive game. It paid off eventually with that line generating the first score for the Preds.

Colin Blackwell found a streaking Colton Sissons on his way to the Calgary net in the final minute of the period. Sissons buried the puck past goalie David Rittich for a 1-0 lead with only 32 seconds left in the period.

The 2nd period was not as kind as the 1st for the Preds. The Flames came out flying and tied it up on a goal by Rasmus Andersson just 26 seconds in. Then just three minutes later, Mikael Backlund got credit for an unfortunate bounce off the skate of Mattias Ekholm.

The Flames dominated most of the middle frame, keeping the puck in the Preds’ end for long stretches at a time. They went into the 3rd period up 2-1, but if not for some excellent play by Juuse Saros, it could have been much worse for the Preds.

It was more of the same in the 3rd. The Flames were largely the better team, keeping the Preds to the outside and pressuring the Preds zone with a good forecheck. It was only due to a great individual effort by Roman Josi that the Preds were able to tie the game with 5:30 left, as he skated into the zone and ripped a wrist shot by Rittich.

Then, of course, the thrilling finish. Mangiapane put the Flames ahead with 43 seconds left. Then Granlund tied it with .1 on the clock and scored the game winner in overtime.

Grandlund’s consistency has been key

If there’s one player that’s benefited the most from John Hynes’ arrival, it’s Mikael Granlund.

He’s now scored 11 goals and 4 assists in 22 games under Hynes. That’s a far better pace than his previous 35 games this season under Peter Laviolette, where he scored only 6 goals and 8 assists.

Hynes says it’s all due to Granlund’s consistent play night in and night out.

“He’s very consistent in his play,” Hynes said after the game Thursday. “If you look at his game offensively, he gets to the areas where you can score. He has the ability to make key plays at key times. That’s how good a player he is. But I also think you look at his game in general, we have him out in key situations. Sometimes when we’re defending a lead, he’s out there, he’s just an extremely competitive player.”

Granlund finished with two goals on four shots, playing on a line with Filip Forsberg and Kyle Turris. Hynes says its Granlund’s overall hockey IQ that leads to so many chances every night for his line.

“He’s got great hockey sense, he’s got great instincts,” Hynes added. “He combines those things together and then his consistency allows him to be an impact every night.”

The Nashville Predators need more consistency, that much is clear. Too often this season, we’ve watched them take entire periods off, come out flat against weak opponents, or have inexcusable breakdowns in the defensive zone. Consistency has been a big issue and one of the reasons they are having the fight for their playoff lives this late in the season.

But as long as guys like Mikael Granlund are still around, they might be able to change that narrative.

— Featured image via Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports —
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