NASHVILLE — The Nashville Predators stooped, but certainly didn’t snap, when injuries began mounting earlier in the season.

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This article was published 17/1/2019 (1302 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

NASHVILLE — The Nashville Predators stooped, but certainly didn’t snap, when injuries began mounting earlier in the season.

The Preds were without the services of forwards Viktor Arvidsson and Filip Forsberg, along with blue-liner P.K. Subban, for big chunks of time in the latter stages of 2018, but were able to endure.

Now able-bodied for the most part, the talented Central Division team is inflicting pain and suffering on NHL opponents as it hovers near the top of the Western Conference standings.

Entering Thursday’s tilt with the Winnipeg Jets, high-powered Nashville had gone 6-1-2 since New Year’s Eve, and was coming off a 7-2 home-ice triumph over the reigning Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals on Tuesday night.

Predators head coach Peter Laviolette admitted Thursday even he’s been impressed with the team’s resilience.

"There’s no question we’d rather have our full lineup, but we didn’t talk about it much. There’s nothing you can do about it. Things happen on a day-to-day basis, and you’re either going to float or you’re going to sink. And so, credit to the guys in the room, we were able to float," Laviolette said following the morning skate. "It wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t always pretty, but we did enough good, we stayed above .500 from the time Arvidsson went out to the time Forsberg came back in."

The only real blip for the Preds was a five-game losing skid in late December. The club also struggled on the road, losing 10 straight, but has now collected points in six of its past seven away from Bridgestone Arena.

"Credit the players for stepping up and moving into different positions and taking on different roles and responsibilities. But, to be honest, there was not a question that it wasn’t going to happen," Laviolette said. "Our guys believe in each other and they believe they can step up when things like that happen, and I thought they did a pretty good job of that."

Arvidsson, a pesky presence during this past spring’s Jets-Predators seven-game playoff battle, began the 2018-19 season on fire, netting eight goals in a dozen games in October before suffering an upper-body injury Nov. 1. He missed 24 of the next 25 games, but rejoined his teammates after the holiday break and has picked up right where he left off.

His hat trick against Washington upped his total to nine since his return and put him on a pace that only the league’s top scorer, Caps sniper Alex Ovechkin, is matching. Prior to Tuesday, Arvidsson had 17 goals in 24 games, an average of .71 goals per game. Ovechkin (a league-leading 33 goals) is tops at .72 among all players who’ve suited up for at least 15 games.

Subban missed 19 games, but returned just days before the new year. Forsberg missed 17 games, but came back on Jan. 7 and has four goals in five games on a dominant line with centre Ryan Johansen and Arvidsson.

"You’ve got different elements, incredible speed on the wings, great play-making in the middle and now they have a long-term chemistry. They’ve played together long enough now that they can do things without slowing their game down," Jets head coach Paul Maurice said, assessing Nashville’s top trio.

jason.bell@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @WFPJasonBell

Jason Bell

Jason Bell
Sports editor

Jason Bell wanted to be a lawyer when he was a kid. The movie The Paper Chase got him hooked on the idea of law school and, possibly, falling in love with someone exactly like Lindsay Wagner (before she went all bionic).