Predators look to stay hot at Ottawa

NHL Hockey

Nick Bonino and the Nashville Predators are looking to be greedy during the holiday season.

After posting resounding victories to begin their four-game trek, the Predators vie for their third win in a row on Thursday when they visit the Ottawa Senators.

Nashville followed Monday’s 5-2 victory over the New York Rangers by scoring seven unanswered goals the following night in an 8-3 romp over the Islanders.

“We talked about this as a big week, a season-defining week, maybe,” said the 31-year-old Bonino, who opened the floodgates with the go-ahead goal late in the second period versus the Islanders.

“We’d love to get all four, but just to start with two is big. It’s tough not to look at the standings right now. We’ve got some games in hand, so these back-to-backs are always huge, and now we’ll go to Ottawa.”

While Bonino is taking an immediate approach, Predators coach Peter Laviolette is looking at the bigger picture when it comes to the team’s road schedule.

“It’s a year-long battle; there’s definitely things that can be lost on a road trip, that’s for sure. You head out for whatever it is, five days, seven days, eight games, there’s things that can go wrong, and you can certainly lose ground and take steps in the wrong direction,” Laviolette said.

“We can move up the standings and continue to climb, and I think the games in hand are really important, but there will be a lot of hockey left after Christmas.”

Ryan Johansen scored and set up a goal to boost his point total to four (three goals, one assist) in his last five games. He also had three assists as Nashville rallied from a three-goal deficit to force overtime before dropping a 4-3 overtime decision in Ottawa on Dec. 17, 2018.

Captain Roman Josi, who collected two goals and an assist in that contest, leads the team in assists (20) and points (30) this season.

While the Predators are trending in the right direction, the Senators have answered a sterling 7-2-0 stretch with losses in nine of their last 12 games (3-7-2).

Anthony Duclair continued his torrid stretch in Tuesday’s 4-3 overtime loss to Tampa Bay, scoring on a breakaway for his team-leading 19th goal of the season and ninth in his last seven games.

Duclair, who is the NHL’s Second Star of the Week, resides one goal shy of his career high set with Arizona in 2015-16. The 24-year-old has 27 goals and 40 points in 56 games since being acquired from Columbus in a trade on Feb. 23.

Defenseman Thomas Chabot logged 37:50 of ice time against the Lightning, with Ottawa ravaged by injury on the back end.

“The minutes certainly were a little high,” first-year coach D.J. Smith said with a smile. “I don’t know if it’s the highest in the NHL this year, but he was certainly really good. It’s not ideal for the long run certainly. We needed a point or better, and we got it.”

Chabot scored 21 seconds into overtime in Ottawa’s last encounter with Nashville.

–Field Level Media

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