The Nashville Predators are one win away from winning the Central Division for the second time in franchise history, thanks to a dramatic, come-from-behind win over the Vancouver Canucks.

There was a bit of luck involved in the win, but in the end the Predators got the job done.

Down 2-0 after the 1st period, it looked like the Preds were going to let yet another opportunity slip through their fingers. A pair of power play goals by the Canucks put the Preds behind the eight-ball early in front of their home crowd. All the Preds needed was to keep pace with the Jets and Blues, but that was in danger early on.

Cue the comeback.

Thirty seven seconds into the 2nd period, Colton Sissons sent the puck towards Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom, who held it and then lost it. Initially the refs waved off the goal due to an early whistle. But they reviewed the play and gave Sissons credit for the goal.

That made it a 2-1 game and woke up the home crowd.

From there, the Preds poured on the offense. They generated 42 shot attempts on the Canucks the rest of the game after getting only 11 in the 1st period. They also generated a total of 15 high danger chances in the game. Though Jacob Markstrom played very well, in the end he couldn’t stop everything.

Nick Bonino tied the game with 4:20 left in the 3rd period following a fury of chances from the Preds’ best defensive line. The Colton Sissons, Nick Bonino, Austin Watson line was again sensational, playing excellent two-way hockey despite Laviolette once again relegating them to a purely defensive role.

The Bridgestone Arena crowd was hopping at that point, knowing the Preds were right back in the Central title race. Then after more pressure from the Predators, Ryan Johansen capped it off with an epic, though somewhat lucky, play to give the Preds the win.

That made it a 3-2 game with 19 seconds left and the Preds held on to win. And though the puck technically went in off defenseman Troy Stecher’s stick, this goal was a reflection of the work that the Preds put in all night.

Rather Be Lucky AND Good

It’s true: the Predators got a bit lucky last night.

Nick Bonino’s goal was very close to goaltender interference. And Colton Sissons’ goal was reviewed and perhaps shouldn’t have been upheld. Then even Ryan Johansen’s goal was reviewed for offside, though it wasn’t close. It was the first time I can remember that the Preds had three goals reviewed and all three were upheld.

But just calling last night a lucky win isn’t fair.

The Predators worked very hard to get everything they earned last night. They out-shot and out-chanced the Canucks pretty much all night. They played better defense and had a more formidable forecheck. The Canucks perhaps got better goaltending, but Pekka Rinne wasn’t tested as much as Jacob Markstrom.

Take a look at the chances the Predators had at even strength. Pay close attention to all the chances the Preds had directly in front of the Canucks goal.

You don’t just get “lucky” and generate that many dangerous chances. You only do that by outplaying your opponent and working hard in the offensive zone.

Consider for example Filip Forsberg’s play on the game winning goal by Ryan Johansen. His work to maintain possession of that puck and then find Johansen in the circle is absolutely incredible. He simply did not give up on that puck.

There’s no luck involved in what Forsberg did to keep that puck alive, even if the puck eventually found some luck on its way to the back of the Vancouver net.

In the Stanley Cup Playoffs, which begin next week, you can’t win without a little bit of luck. Right now it looks like the Predators are getting a little bit of luck. But they are going to need more of last night’s effort in order to really make some waves.

— Advanced stats via Natural Stat Trick. Featured image via Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports —
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