by Jackson Walsh
Riding a two-game losing streak before coming home Tuesday night, it was high time for the Nashville Predators to show what they were made of to get back on track. It was a grand homecoming indeed for the Predators (28-16-4, 60 points). A solid victory in which, from beginning to end, they annihilated the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals (27-14-5, 57 points) 7-2 at Bridgestone Arena.
From the very first puck drop, the Predators played a lot quicker, sharper and more organized than in Sunday’s game at Carolina. They limited turnovers in their own zone, were able to establish smoother puck movement and generate a ton of offense, but the big story of the game was Viktor Arvidsson.
What an impact he has had on the Predators’ offense since returning from that thumb injury that shelved him for 21 games. Arvi has 9 goals in his past 11 games, including the Predators fifth hat trick of the season. The bid for the hatty began at the 3:45 mark of the first period, after receiving a flawless feed from Mattias Ekholm netting the ice breaker goal past Phoenix Copley. 1-0 Preds.
Nick Bonino added to the lead by burying the puck out of sight of Copley that got lost in the back of the net, then the Arvi show continued. Now in the second period, Subban blasted the puck in from the blueline and Arvi executed a skillful deflection in front of the net the tip in that went 5-Hole on Copley and into the net. At the 1:20 mark in period 2, it’s 3-0 Predators.
Nicklas Backstrom provided the first bit of offense for the Caps on a power play goal after P.K. Subban tripped Brett Connolly. Washington would go on a power play again with another trip, this time Calle Jarnkrok on T.J. Oshie. But the force was strong with Arvi again.
Arvi stripped the puck at center ice with 1:45 left in the Caps power play, leading to a sweet breakaway chance and the goal that sealed the deal. Shorthanded, hat trick goal, 4-1 Predators.
Viktor’s stellar performance was backed up with even more offensive firepower. Goals from Grimaldi ( a beautiful spin-around backhander), Bonino (his second), and Jarnkrok busted the game wide open for an outright route.
Our goalscorers were only four of the twelve Predators who gained a point last night on the ice. Matty Ekholm continued his great work on that side of the puck, getting two assists. Then Forsberg, Subban, Watson, Hartman, Sissons, Fiala, and Johansen all gained one assist.
Now it’s on to the Jets this Thursday. The first place team in the division that has a hard time losing right now. A three-game win streak, recently a 4-1 win vs Vegas last night. The Preds are only two points behind them in the standings and can pull even with a win, in a race that shows no sign of slowing down any time soon.