The red-hot Nashville Predators will look to extend their points streak to six games when they visit the Ottawa Senators on Monday.
The Predators are 4-0-1 over their last five games and are looking for a fourth consecutive victory. Nashville’s most recent victory came in dramatic fashion, as Ryan McDonagh scored on a back-handed shot at 16:44 of the third period to give the Predators a 3-2 result over the Washington Capitals.
It was McDonagh’s first goal of the season and his first since being traded to the Predators during the offseason. However, the defenseman was less impressed by his individual achievement than he was by his team’s overall effort.
“We’re obviously getting some consistency and finding a recipe here,” McDonagh said. “And more importantly, we’re showing our character and guys are sacrificing and showing some will. … Those are the things that add up and make a difference and we’re seeing it pay off here recently.”
Backup goalie Kevin Lankinen faced Washington, with starter Juuse Saros expected back in net Monday. Saros got a well-earned night off after a 64-save masterpiece in Nashville’s 5-3 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on January 5.
Goaltending has been just one strength for the Predators, who have been clicking in both 5-on-5 play and on special teams. After struggling for much of the season, Nashville’s power play is 8 of 24 over the Predators’ last nine games. The penalty-kill unit has been even sharper, killing off 27 of 29 opposing power plays over an eight-game stretch.
Power-play scoring could be difficult for either team on Monday, given how Ottawa has also been dominating the penalty kill. The Senators have killed off 39 of 41 penalties in their last 14 games, including a perfect 15-for-15 run in their last six outings.
Stingy defense has led to a lot of recent success for the Senators, who were 4-1-0 in five games heading into Saturday’s matchup with the Seattle Kraken. But the run of success was interrupted when Ottawa allowed a season-high in goals during an 8-4 defeat.
Seattle’s eight goals came on just 24 shots as the Senators were plagued by what head coach D.J. Smith described as “crazy mistakes.”
“When we play a certain style, regardless of who’s in the lineup, we’re in the game every night,” Smith said. “And we did not play that style. … You only win by playing hard defense in this league, and we didn’t play nearly enough defense tonight to have a chance to win the game.”
Starter Anton Forsberg allowed three goals on five shots over 15:13 of play. Cam Talbot then entered the game and gave up five goals on 19 shots in the remaining 44:17.
Tim Stutzle was a bright spot in defeat, recording a hat trick and an assist for his second career four-point game. Stutzle has 12 points (eight goals, four assists) during a seven-game points streak.
In the first meeting between the teams this season, the Senators earned a 3-2 win at Nashville on Dec. 10.
–Field Level Media