The injury riddled Preds prevailed 4-3 over the Detroit Red Wings in a win that only be described as character shining through. The Preds jumped out to a 1-0 lead after Steve Sullivan pots his 10th goal since returning in January, but give up a shorthanded goal and a 5-3 PP goal and trail going into the third 2-1. During play in the second period, Marty Erat is knocked out of the game after taking a Shea Weber slapshot in the leg. Moments later, Patric Hornqvist is temporarily knocked out of the game after getting hit in the face with an Antii Pihlstrom shot (he would later return to the game). In the third, the Preds simplified their game and threw pucks on the net. Joel Ward continued his amazing season as he slapped in a rebound in a goalmouth scramble for his 17th goal of the year. 20 seconds later, Jerred Smithson dug a puck out of the corner and, after taking a nice pass from Cal O'Reilly, fired a shot past Osgood for his fourth goal of the year to give the Preds a 3-2 lead. Good to see Smithers rewarded on the scoresheet for his efforts. He is playing solid hockey for this club right now. After Johan Franzen tied the game at 3 with a wicked slapper, Ryan Suter scored on the PP with a slapshot blast that cleanly beat Osgood for the game winner. Radek Bonk was screening in front of the net on the game winning goal, paying the price with his body to impede the vision of Osgood.
This win exemplifies the character of this team. It would have been easy to say we played an overtime game last night and were tired. It would have been easy to say that the Joe has been our own house of horrors. It would have been easy to say that our injury depleted lineup couldn't compete. Easy, however, is not the road this team chooses to travel. Once again, they reached down deep inside to find a way to get a critical win and capture two vital points. Once again, who this team is was on display. A team that has been bred never to quit. Two points that could have easily gone the other way. Two points closer to securing a spot in the playoffs.Two points that defines this team.
The magnitude of this win is amplified by the fact that St. Louis continues to win, beating Columbus 5-2. The Preds sit in 7th in the Western Conference playoff race with 84 points; Columbus is 6th with 86 points; St. Louis is 8th with 83 points. We now start to get some separation from Edmonton (9th with 81 points) and Anaheim (10th with 80 points).
The dogfight that is the Western Conference race continues on Tuesday with the Preds taking on the slumping Bluejackets in Columbus. Another opportunity for character to shine through.