Nashville Predators goaltender Dan Ellis didn’t see the game passing before his eyes in the second period, but he did think he might pass out.
Shelled with 19 shots by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the second period, Ellis started feeling the effects of dehydration. He held on for a 3-0 shutout of the Blue Jackets Tuesday night at the Sommet Center, but even after receiving the I.V. his body was still shaking from the loss of 13 pounds during the night, dropping him from 186 pounds to 173.
“I always lose weight,” Ellis said. “That’s nothing new. This was just a little more extreme.
“I could tell in the second period my energy was starting to waver. It was a 2-0 game at the time. I started feeling it when we were on the penalty kill. I didn’t think it would be fair for Chris Mason to come in and go under fire. Fortunately, the game ended before I did.”
Ellis’s performance helped keep the Preds in the playoff race. Nashville has 84 points, two behind Colorado, which currently holds the eighth and final playoff spot.
One thing that helped save Ellis was the need to repair a broken pane of glass during the second period.
“I was happy for the rest,” Ellis said. “It gave the team a chance to regroup and reevaluate the way we were playing. We got back to playing more disciplined hockey and hung on for the win.”
It was the fifth shutout of the season for Ellis, who has won his last two games after putting together a pair of sub-par performances.
“It wasn’t one of our better games, but I think goaltending kind of owed the team after the two games I got yanked,” Ellis said. “I knew the team would find itself. We all have to be responsible for our own jobs. I want to be able to give us a chance to win right now.
“The timing of those games and being back-to-back was not encouraging to anyone in the organization. All I can do is take the opportunities I do get and try to show them I want to help the team out and do my best to help them.”
Left winger Jan Hlavac scored what proved to be the game-winner with an assist from center Jason Arnott at 5:22 of the first period. A little more than 10 minutes later Arnott scored the second goal of the period. Center Radek Bonk iced the game in the third period with a power-play goal at 5:45.
Arnott credited Ellis with carrying the team against the Blue Jackets as he turned back 36 shots.
“This was a huge confidence booster,” Arnott said. “Ellis is a huge part of this, no question, in the last two games. We need him to keep going because it is not over yet.
“Hopefully, Elly doesn’t get too high and stays on an even level. We need him to come ready to work the next game.”
Arnott doesn’t expect Ellis will have problem with his composure. Even when Pekka Rinne was called up from Milwaukee, Ellis kept an even emotional keel.
“Elly comes to the rink and has fun and works hard even when things are down,” Arnott said. “When Pekka was called up there was no change in his mood at all. He was making saves in practice and working as hard as he ever has.
“He is that type of guy. He doesn’t let too much bother him. That is nice to see. We can go a long way with that.”
Predators coach Barry Trotz credited Ellis as the main reason the team has won its last two games and remains in the middle of the playoff race. The Predators travel to Columbus for a rematch Friday night.
“Danny was great again,” Trotz said. “The last two games Danny has responded fantastically. In the second period he just stood on his head. It was all about goaltending.”
One thing that continues to be frustrating for Trotz, despite the wins is the failure of the Predators to put in 60 minutes of work on the ice.
“We had a very poor second period,” Trotz said. “We can’t play 40-minute or 30-minute games. We have to have complete effort.
“We got away from what we did in the first period. We had a good pace and we executed well. Then in the second period we turned off the switch, took too many penalties and gave them momentum. We have a lot of work ahead of us.”