The Nashville Predators made a major change to their defensive unit and it paid off against the Washington Capitals.

Pairing Roman Josi with P.K. Subban and Mattias Ekholm with Ryan Ellis gave the Preds a huge lift defensively as they pounded the Capitals by a score of 7-2. And Coach Peter Laviolette indicated after the game that we can probably expect more of this in the future.

“We know that Ekholm and Ellis play well together from years past because they’ve had a lot of ice time together but with P.K. and Roman, this is really the first game where we decided to put them together,” Laviolette said after the game.

Then he added “Hopefully, we leave it that way.”

It would be hard for anyone to argue with that decision given the result last night. The Preds dominated the Caps from the opening puck drop, going up 2-0 in the first period, then 6-1 in the second period, then finishing them off 7-2 in the third period.

The Capitals had very little room to work in the Predators’ zone. And even when they did, Juuse Saros was solid in net, collecting 26 saves on the night. It’s only one game, but it’s a perfect start for the new defensive setup.

Though the main story heading into the game was the defensive change, it was the Predators’ offense that got the Bridgestone Arena crowd on their feet.

Offensive Explosion For Nashville

The big man of the night, Viktor Arvidsson, got things started for the Predators. He took a nice lead pass from Mattias Ekholm and buried the first goal of the game by Capitals goalie Phoenix Copley.

Then, a bit later, Nick Bonino slapped a one-timer by Copley to make it 2-0. It was such a quick goal. the referee didn’t initially call it a goal. It appeared as if Bonino scored, but the puck was no where to be found.

Oh, here it is:

Arvidsson scored his second of the game early in the second period. After Roman Josi skated the length of the ice with the puck, the cycle eventually landed on the stick of P.K. Subban. He blasted it to the net where Arvidsson tipped it home.

After the Capitals made it 3-1 on the power play a few minutes later, Arvidsson scored his third of the game on a shorthanded breakaway. Johansen made a great play to tip him the puck. That made it 4-1 Preds, but they weren’t done yet.

Not three minutes later, Rocco Grimaldi busted out an amazing, spin-o-rama goal to make it 5-1 Preds. It could easily be the goal of the year for Nashville, and coming from a somewhat unlikely player.

Goals by Nick Bonino and Calle Jarnkrok completed the blowout. The Preds’ seventh goal surpassed their previous season high of six goals, which they scored against the Capitals on December 31st.

Arvidsson, Grimaldi Humble After Win

Despite their outstanding play on the ice, two of the Predators’ forwards were quick to downplay the 7-2 win, knowing their job is far from over.

“We just have to refocus here. We have a big test coming up, a division game against Winnipeg,” Viktor Arvidsson said after the game. “They’re the top of our division so we have to bring our game.”

Similarly, Rocco Grimaldi was quite conciliatory after scoring arguably the best goal for the Preds all year.

Grimaldi has been a revelation for the bottom six, collecting four goals and four assists in 29 games, despite limited playing time. His energy and speed mirror that of Arvidsson’s, providing more balance to the forward lineup for the Preds.

With the Winnipeg Jets coming into Bridgestone on Thursday, the Predators have little time to rest. But if the defensive pairings remain steadfast and the offense fires on all cylinders like they did tonight, the Preds should be fine.

— Featured image via Steve Roberts/USA TODAY Sports —