Opening night in Nashville did not disappoint, to say the very least.
There are still 79 games remaining in the Nashville Predators regular season, but chances are that none of them will be as crazy as their 6-5 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night.
Nashville held a 3-0 lead midway through the second period, found itself trailing 5-3 with 13:12 left in regulation and came out on top thanks to two late power play tallies. Scott Hartnell tied things up on a 5-on-3 power play with 1:17 left on the clock and Filip Forsberg lit the lamp for the game winner with just 36 ticks left.
After their rather disappointing effort against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night, Nashville was looking to come out of the gates fast and after raising their Western Conference Championship banner to the rafters, that’s exactly what they did to start the contest.
After dominating play for the opening three minutes, Craig Smith drew a slashing penalty on Claude Giroux and it was Smith who made the Flyers pay. Kevin Fiala found Smith in the slot and the 28-year-old sniped one past Brian Elliott to give the Predators a 1-0 edge with just over 16 minutes left in the frame. Mattias Ekholm was also credited with an assist on the tally.
After controlling both the pace of the game and the shots on goal count, the Flyers were able to slow things down in the opening period, but the Preds took their 1-0 lead into the first intermission.
Nashville came out with the same pace to start the second period as it did in the first. After killing off the remainder of a Smith minor penalty the Predators were able to double up their lead.
Pontus Aberg found the puck and sent a shot on net as he entered the zone which created a long rebound out wide that found the stick of Hartnell who sent a one-timer past Elliott for his first goal of the season.
Just over 40 seconds following the Hartnell goal, both teams were handed roughing minor penalties and the Preds were able to take advantage of the extra space during 4-on-4 action. Ekholm received a strong pass from P.K. Subban and dangled his way towards the net where a bouncing puck found Nick Bonino on the doorstep giving the former Penguin his first goal in a Preds sweater.
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The Flyers didn’t lay down after finding themselves in a major hole. In fact, they were able to tie things up with a flurry of goals all coming within a five minute span.
Andrew MacDonald got the Flyers on the board with 9:41 left in the middle frame and the next 4:46 was all Philadelphia in every facet. Nolan Patrick scored his first NHL goal just 16 seconds after the MacDonald goal and 4:35 later it was Valtteri Filppula knotting things up at 3-3 with his power play goal. Philadelphia very much so found their attacking skates while Nashville became comfortable.
Philadelphia out shot Nashville 15-8 in the second period.
The third period began just as the second period ended; with the Flyers continuing to control play in a major way.
Just over five minutes into the final frame Travis Konecny found himself on a partial breakaway with Alexei Emelin chasing and Knoecny was able to beat Pekka Rinne giving the Flyers their first lead.
Following the go-ahead goal, the Flyers were gifted a power play after Hartnell was given a minor for cross checking and Filppula was able to score his second of the night 30 seconds into the power play.
Then something changed. A switch was flipped and the Predators turned things on.
“We just started playing,” Filip Forsberg simply stated after the comeback win. “We played until we were up 3-0, then we stopped playing and they came back, then we started playing again.”
It wasn’t that simple, however.
Forsberg scored exactly 50 seconds following the Filppula goal to cut the lead to 5-4. With 2:41 left Ekholm drew two penalties on the same sequence giving Nashville its 5-on-3 power play that would ultimately give it an opportunity to capitalize and win the contest 6-5.
Hartnell scored the first power play goal, but following the goal the Flyers decided to challenge for offsides, but failed. This was a huge moment as new NHL rules penalize teams a bench minor for failed challenges giving the Preds another 5-on-3 chance for 36 seconds. Forsberg’s game winner didn’t come on the 5-on-3, but it did come just seconds after the Flyers got their fourth man back on the ice.
When it was all said and done, the Preds out shot the Flyers 31-30 and their power play ended the night an impressive 3-for-4. Subban (3A) and Forsberg (2G, 1A) led both teams in scoring with their three point nights.
“We’re trying to get better here,” Predators head coach Peter Laviolette said. “There’s certainly positives to take back from the game tonight and then there’s things we will continue to work on.”
Stats via Corsica.