Predators use forward focus to move up in standings

Sunday, March 21, 2010 at 8:51pm
barry.jpg
Trotz

When it comes to the playoff chase, the Nashville Predators have adopted a singular identity.

Having entered last week seventh in the Western Conference standings, they took dead aim at the teams ahead of them and chose to ignore those in pursuit – chiefly the Detroit Red Wings and Calgary Flames.

“We’ve been (saying) let’s not look behind us, let’s look forward, keep pushing forward and see what happens at the end of the day,” coach Barry Trotz said. “If you keep looking forward and something comes your way in terms of someone faltering and not getting their job done, you move up a little bit.”

They did exactly that when they ran their current win streak to six games with a come-from-behind 3-2 victory over the Blues on Sunday at St. Louis. That moved them into fifth place, two points ahead of Los Angeles, which has played three fewer games.

Dustin Boyd, acquired at the trade deadline, scored his first two goals as a Predator, including the game-winner with 2:46 to play – 48 seconds after Patric Hornqvist had tied it.

A night earlier, Nashville moved from seventh to sixth, one point ahead of Colorado, with a 1-0 overtime victory over Columbus.

Nashville now has won 42 games this season, two more than in 2008-09 and the third-highest total in franchise history. The record of 51 victories was set in 2006-07.

Nine games remain – seven of them against teams among the top 10 in the West, including two versus fourth-place Phoenix.

“There’s no nights off,” Rinne said. “… There are a couple teams there that are really close.”

The win streak includes back-to-back shutouts (three overall) by Rinne, who ran his streak without a goal allowed to 149:04 – the second-longest in franchise history – before St. Louis took a 1-0 lead at 16:28 of the first period.

The weekend did exact a physical toll, though.

Jason Arnott sustained a head injury in the third period Saturday against Columbus and did not play against the Blues. Another forward, Joel Ward, sustained an upper body injury in the second period at St. Louis and missed the remainder of that contest.

The status of each will be updated Monday.

“We just have to keep looking ahead,” Trotz said. “Whatever happens, we just have to look ahead. Fortunately (Saturday) night we were able to jump over a team.

“They have games in hand, but you’re ahead of them. You force the issue on them a little bit and force them to play different. If they fumble the ball, or what have you, maybe you can continue on.”