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Ryan Ellis and Seth Jones help prevent disaster in Ottawa

Preds v OTT

The Nashville Predators needed this one. And two young defensemen gave it to them.

In front of 19,063 at Canadian Tire Centre, the Preds beat the Ottawa Senators 4-3 in overtime. Pekka Rinne made 34 saves en route to his first victory since October 19. Nashville is now 24-2-5 when they score three or more goals this season.

After a scoreless opening frame, the Preds mounted a three-goal lead headed into the third period.

Nick Spaling continued his career year by bagging his 12th of the season midway through the second. Michael Del Zotto received a pass from Colin Wilson behind the Sens net and fired a shot from the blueline. Spaling, cutting in front, got his stick down in time and gave the Preds a 1-0 lead.

It was Nashville’s first goal in 137:52.

Exactly midway through the contest, the puck crossed the Ottawa goal line again, this time thanks to a tip by Craig Smith. In nearly a carbon copy of the first goal, Mattias Ekholm took a shot from the blueline and Smith was able to get a tip on it to put his team up 2-0 and tally his 19th of the season.

Before the second was over, the Preds added another. Eric Nystrom — who hadn’t scored since his four-goal outburst in Calgary on January 24 — picked up a loose puck at the hashmarks and wired a shot past Craig Anderson to make it 3-0 headed into the dressing room.

Ottawa made things interesting early in the third when Jared Cowen took advantage of a scramble in front of the Predator crease. Rinne originally tried to sweep away a Jason Spezza chance but didn’t get it into the corner. As a result, the puck came to Cowen in front and he put a fluttering shot into the net to cut Nashville’s lead to two.

Moments later, Marc Methot pulled his team within one when he snuck behind the defense and received a Spezza pass from behind the net.

In the final minute of regulation, Spezza completed the comeback when he got a goal of his own. He slammed a deflected puck past Rinne at the backdoor and tied the game.

In overtime, however, Colin Wilson made a tremendous play at his own blueline that lead to a breakaway for the Preds. Ryan Ellis had so much time that he could have had a sandwich before shooting it. Instead, he took a look around to see how much space he had and saw Seth Jones hustling to join the rush. After Ellis’ initial shot was stopped by Robin Lehner, Jones poked home the rebound to give Nashville the victory.

Nashville had squandered a three goal lead on the road to a team outside the Eastern Conference playoff picture. Additionally, a single point wasn’t going to be good enough considering they were 10 points behind the 8th place Dallas Stars coming into the night. Jones’ goal screamed “crisis averted!” to Preds fans everywhere as they gained some ground on the pack.

The Preds will now travel to upstate New York in order to take on the league’s worst team, the Buffalo Sabres, tomorrow night. If they can earn a victory there as well, they could find themselves just six points out of the West’s final playoff spot.

Puck drops at 6:00pm Central.