BOSTON (AP) — The Nashville Predators will look back on this road trip as the turning point if the rest of their season gets rolling.
Ryan Ellis scored with 54.2 seconds left on the clock in overtime to lift the Predators to a 4-3 win over the stumbling Boston Bruins on Saturday night.
“The guys were working hard trying to get back to where we need to be,’’ Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. “The road trip was a big part of it.”
Roman Josi had two goals, Filip Forsberg also scored and Pekka Rinne stopped 29 shots to help Nashville finish a four-game trip at 3-0-1.
“It is crucial for us,” Rinne said of the trip that included wins in New York against the Rangers and Islanders, and an overtime loss to Ottawa.
“Before this road trip, we weren’t where we wanted to be,” Rinne said. “This is a huge road trip against good teams.”
Patrice Bergeron scored twice and Par Lindholm had the other goal for the Bruins, who have won just once in their last eight games (1-5-2). Jaroslav Halak finished with 25 saves.
Boston had won eight straight from mid-November to early December.
“It’s frustrating losing. We want to win. We were in the games, it’s just one goal,” Boston forward David Pastrnak said. “That’s hockey. Sometimes you win games you weren’t (supposed) to win. That happened to us a little in November.”
Boston had been 10-3-1 lifetime at home against Nashville.
Ellis beat Halak with a wrister from the edge of the slot for the winner after getting a pass from Ryan Johansen.
Bergeron had tied it when he tipped Pastrnak’s shot from the left circle past Rinne with 65 seconds left in the third period. Bergeron nearly won it when he had a close flip shot from the edge of the crease with about 30 seconds left in regulation.
Trailing 2-1 in the third, the Predators tied it when – with Rinne off for an extra skater during a delayed penalty – Forsberg came around the net and tucked the puck into the goal inside Halak’s right pad and the post at 7:35.
Josi’s second of the game came 35 seconds later when Halak came charging way out before diving to try and poke a loose puck away, but the Predators’ captain got to it near the boards, turned and fired a shot into the wide-open net.
“I was first to the puck,” Halak said. “It was just one of those plays it bounced the other way and he was able to put it in. It happens to everyone. Too bad there’s no one (behind) when the goalie makes a mistake that can cover him.”
With Forsberg off for roughing late in the second period, Torey Krug made a backhand pass from along the boards to Bergeron in the slot, where he one-timed a shot inside the left post to give Boston a 2-1 lead with 47.7 seconds left in the period.
Early in the second, Halak made a nice pad stop on Matt Duchene’s wrister from the slot before Lindholm made it 1-0 at 7:30 when he skated hard to get his stick on the rebound of Brett Ritchie’s shot from the right circle. The puck ended up trickling into the net off Predators defenseman Kyle Turris’ knee as he went to the ice with Lindholm.
Nashville tied it a little less than five minutes later when Josi slipped a backhander from the slot past Halak, who looked like he may have been screened when Predators forward Viktor Arvidsson cut in front of him as Josi was firing his shot.
Stumbling through their toughest stretch of the season, Boston coach Bruce Cassidy has been preaching lately the team’s need to get back to its identity. They failed to close out another tight game at home, falling to 0-1-4 in their last five at TD Garden.
NOTES: Cassidy sat two-thirds of his fourth line for the game, replacing David Backes and Joakim Nordstrom in the lineup with Ritchie and Lindholm. “Sometimes it’s a way to get certain players attention,” Cassidy said after the morning skate. “This is a little bit of that. I’m not putting it all on David Backes or Nordie. Let’s see where it leads us.” … Defensemen Josi (33 points) and Ryan Ellis (28) are the Predators’ top two scorers. … Boston D Charlie McAvoy turned 22-years-old Saturday. … Backes and Nordstrom were both dressed in festive Christmas suits sitting in the press box. … The teams meet again in Nashville on Jan. 7.
Predators: Host Arizona on Monday night.
Bruins: Host Washington on Monday night.
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