It was six games. Six games in which the Nashville Predators traveled to the farthest NHL city from Middle Tennessee (Vancouver), faced the team that arguably has become their most heated rival (Chicago) as well as the player who has scored more goals against them than any other (Calgary’s Jerome Iginla).
When all was said and done with Wednesday’s 2-1 loss to the Canucks, the Predators had spent more than a week and a half on the road and came away with as many victories (three) as defeats (three). More importantly, they protected their place in the Western Conference playoff chase and reached the All-Star break in fourth place.
Nashville finally plays at home again on Tuesday (its first Bridgestone Arena appearance since Jan. 15), but in the meantime, here are some details from the trip to consider:
• Balanced scoring: Nashville scored 17 goals in the six games. That’s an average of 2.83 per game, which is slightly higher than its season average (2.56), and much like what has taken place all season the goals came from up and down the lineup.
Twelve different players (nine forwards, three defensemen) scored at least once. The only ones who scored more than one goal were forwards J-P Dumont (five) and Patric Hornqvist (two).
Sixteen different players had at least on assist, and 10 had more than one. The leader in that category was defenseman Cody Franson with four.
• Third period woes: The Predators outscored the opposition in each of the first and second periods. The third was problematic, though.
Of the 16 goals allowed in the six games, 10 came in the final period.
Worse yet, two of the three losses came after the team had a third-period lead. Wednesday at Vancouver, Nashville led 1-0 but gave up two goals in the final nine minutes. In the trip opener, the Predators were up 3-2 at Chicago but allowed four goals in the final 11 minutes.
• Short on shots: Nashville was outshot in four of the six games. Four of the six opponents had more than 30 shots while the Predators never got more than 28 pucks to the net.
The most lopsided game in that regard was Jan. 18 at Phoenix, where the Coyotes had a 34-21 advantage (the Predators actually won 5-2). The one time Nashville outshot the opposition was Sunday at Edmonton (28-24).
• Injury issues: The Predators have taken their lumps all season, and these six games were no exception.
After having racked up six points (five goals, one assist) in the first three games, Dumont played just 7:25 Sunday at Edmonton and missed Monday’s game at Calgary because of a minor injury he sustained when he was hit on the back of the neck with a stick against the Oilers.
Defenseman Francis Bouillon started the trip but barely got going. He played just 2:28 of the opener at Chicago before he sustained an upper-body injury and was sent home.
• Shootout success: The Predators have six shootout victories (in eight tries), which ties them with Calgary for the most this season.
They added to that total in the only game on the trip that went to overtime. Franson was the only skater who converted for either team in Nashville’s 3-2 shootout victory Sunday ar Edmonton.