Nashville, Tenn. (WKRN)- This week has been a bit of a whirlwind for the Nashville Predators. First, Peter Laviolette was relieved of his coaching duties Monday, then less than 24 hours later, General Manager David Poile introduced John Hynes as the third head coach in Predators history.
The new bench boss was not on the ice for practice on Tuesday morning, but he did coach in the game later that evening at Bridgestone Arena, where the Predators fell to the Boston Bruins 6-2.
There weren’t too many new things Hynes could implement in that game, but he was able to get in a full practice on Wednesday before heading to Chicago for a meeting with the Blackhawks.
It was on Thursday when Hynes ‘new voice’ really came into play. There weren’t any crazy line combinations, but the Predators did seem to put more focus on defending in front of the net, along with having more of a presence in the middle of the ice.
The Predators had one of their best first periods of the season, getting goals from Viktor Arvidsson, Colin Blackwell and Matt Duchene. And while the Blackhawks worked hard to get within one goal in the third period, Hynes was quick to huddle up his team on the bench, sending a message that was received right away.
In the last moments of the game Nick Bonino added an impressive empty-net goal and for the first time in his NHL career, goaltender Pekka Rinne scored a goal, as the Predators finished off the Blackhawks 5-2.
Not only is it the Predators first win with Hynes behind the bench, but it is also two huge points in the standings as they try to make up ground in the playoff race.
The Predators now sit four points behind the Winnipeg Jets with two games in hand. A nice end to a wild week, but there isn’t much time for rest. Next up, the Jets on Sunday.