preds

The Nashville Predators completed a three-game road sweep over the weekend that finished with a 4-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes Saturday night at Gila River Arena.

It was the Predators’ fourth straight win — tied with the Colorado Avalanche for the longest current win streak in the NHL — set up by capitalizing on a week’s worth of performances from goaltender Juuse Saros.

Saros stopped 38 of 40 shots against the Coyotes, running his record to 19-9-1. Saros hasn’t allowed more than two goals in four straight starts. In fact, he’s held opponents to two goals or fewer in 24 of his 29 starts this season.

“Huge; I mean he’s the biggest reason,” captain Roman Josi said of Saros’ importance to the Predators’ success. “He's unbelievable. You saw it all year. I think there’s no better goalie in the world than him. Every night he’s giving us a chance to win.”

Predators coach John Hynes said the strength of his group is their ability to be mentally ready. Defenseman Mattias Ekholm echoed a similar sentiment, stating the Predators are difficult to play because of their toughness and camaraderie.

“That’s kind of been the mentality the whole year,” Ekholm said. “It doesn’t matter if we’re on the kill, if we’re on the power play, it’s a fight, whatever, we stand up for each other and I think that’s a great way to play.”

Thirty-six games into the season and the Predators not only hold a one-point lead over the St. Louis Blues in the Central Division, but they’re also currently the No. 1 team in the Western Conference, leading the Blues and Vegas Golden Knights by a point.

Many prognosticators — or fans, for that matter — did not anticipate such a sudden turnaround before the season, so Nashville’s run to the top of the conference has surprised many.

But for the players, this is right where they expected to be.

“When the season started, even getting off to that 1-4 start, I thought we played some really good games, we just didn’t get the wins,” Josi added. “I think everybody, coaching staff, [GM] David [Poile], me, we did a good job of playing the same way and not getting frustrated and then the wins came, and we realized what makes us successful.”

Ryan Hanna is a sports intern with the Nashville Post. You can follow him on Twitter @Dice_Man_21.