Both the Nashville Predators and Boston Bruins earned at least a point Thursday.
It was the game’s referees who made the most significant point, though.
In the wake of two days of NHL general managers meetings, during which the primary topic of conversation was hits to the head, Predators’ forward Patric Hornqvist was assessed a five-minute major penalty for elbowing and a game misconduct for a hit on Boston’s Tyler Sequin with 2:30 to play in the first period.
Nashville managed to kill off that penalty and then overcame a third-period deficit for a 4-3 overtime victory against a team that came into town tied for the league’s best road record. Shea Weber scored the game-winner with 1:23 to play in the extra period, 38 seconds into the Predators’ fourth power play of the contest.
“Especially at this time of year, we wanted to get that extra point,” Weber said. “Obviously, there were a couple of shifts there we spent in their end where guys were working hard. We drew a penalty, which ultimately led to the power-play goal.”
Weber’s goal was the only one scored by either team during special teams play, but it’s not as if either side lacked for opportunity.
Nashville had a two-man advantage for 40 seconds of the second period and failed to capitalize.
Boston, likewise, missed out on the significant opportunity afforded by the call against Hornqvist. It helped that it happened when it did because the five minutes the Predators played shorthanded were divided evenly between the final 2:30 of the first period and the opening 2:30 of the second.
“That was huge actually,” Nashville forward Jerred Smithson said. “They had some pretty good chances that first part of the power play. They picked us apart pretty good. [The intermission] gave us a chance to regroup and talk about things and tighten up. I thought we did a lot better job the second half.”
Game officials declined a request from media covering the game to discuss the call, but it’s no secret that one of the hottest topics related to the sport is an attempt to reduce head injuries.
The league’s general managers took no official action during their meetings Tuesday and Wednesday in Florida but they discussed the possibility that any and all hits to the head could be considered penalties eventually. Players said they received no information regarding any sort of immediate crackdown.
“We haven’t been warned, but I’m sure everybody goes on NHL.com and looks at what’s going on,” Colin Wilson, who had a goal and an assist, said. “I’m sure anytime you go near the head, you’re going to get a penalty. So I think we’re all starting to realize that.”
It’s not as if Hornqvist, Nashville’s leader in goals, has any sort of reputation among the referees. In 175 career NHL games prior to Thursday, he had fewer than 100 career penalty minutes.
Plus, Seguin, who gave Boston a 1-0 lead when he scored fewer than two minutes into the contest, was not injured on the play. He took regular shifts throughout the remainder of the contest.
“I didn’t feel anything,” Seguin said. “No headaches, so I’m OK.”
Nashville was called for just one more penalty the rest of the game — a high-sticking violation by Martin Erat.
As it turned out, that call led to the game-tying goal scored by David Legwand with 9:04 to play in the third period. Erat got the puck and got free on a breakaway as soon as he exited the penalty box. His shot was stopped, but Sergei Kostitsyn and Legwand each followed with rebound chances.
Even though things eventually worked out for the best, the Predators still would have preferred the call against Hornqvist was not made.
“When I looked at it [on replay], I really didn’t think it was a penalty,” Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. “… I looked at it a number of times and I’m probably in disagreement with the referees, but I have the advantage, obviously, of watching it in slow motion.
“It doesn’t really matter now. It’s called and he missed the game. We had to fight through a very good power play that created a lot of chances.”
So it was that the Predators ultimately earned a second point when their power play delivered — and in well under five minutes.
• This was the first of two straight games in which the Predators’ home ice advantage will be put to a test.
Prior to Thursday’s games, the Bruins and Red Wings were tied for league’s best road record. Each was 23-9-4.
Boston led twice in this game, including 3-2 when it scored 1:42 into the third period.
“They don’t lose too many times in the third period when they have a lead,” Trotz said.
Detroit comes to town Saturday. Faceoff is 7 p.m.
• The victory was Nashville’s first this season in games decided during the four-on-four, five-minute overtime period. They were 0-6 in such contests and had another 10 extended to shootouts.
“Overtime has not been kind to the Nashville Predators, so that was huge for us,” Trotz said. “It was a huge two points.”
• Joel Ward missed his second straight game with a lower body injury. The forward determined following the morning skate that he was unable to play.
“Talking to our trainers, they feel a lot more optimistic for Saturday,” Trotz said. “Obviously, we’re going to need him. We’re pretty shorthanded right now.”
• Weber’s goal was the 80th of his career, which made him the franchise’s all-time leader in goals by a defenseman. Kimmo Timonen, with 79, was the previous record-holder.