MVP Sports Channel

Epic Comeback Against Blues | Nashville

Hello again, Hockey Fans,

Deb here, back in the zone to bring you the latest on our Nashville Predators. It was a four-game week, so there is plenty of action to tell you about as we make our way to the middle third of the season.

On Thursday night, the Preds traveled to the American Airlines Center in Dallas to take on a strong divisional opponent, the Stars. Pekka Rinne was in goal for Nashville and shined early making a number of big stops. Dallas managed to get one by him with ten minutes left in the 1st. While Nashville was trying to regroup, another puck sneaked behind Rinne only 23 seconds later, and just like that, the Stars had a 2-0 lead—-Yowsa! Pekka was clearly irked by that chain of events and expressed his frustration as he rarely does by throwing an elbow and receiving a roughing penalty; fortunately the Preds’ penalty kill unit held. The Stars went back on the power play, but hooray….Nashville got a breakaway and Viktor Arvidsson blasted his 9th goal of the year in goal to grab a short-handed goal for the Preds, making it a 2-1 game. Nashville was outshot 15-6 in the 1st and spent far too much time in their own defensive zone; fortunately, the Stars took only a single-goal lead into the intermission. Period #2 got underway with a fast pace and aggressive play all around. Dallas got back the lead about four minutes in, but the Preds went on the power play right after, but were not able to convert it. No sooner were the teams back to even strength, when the Stars found pay dirt again….4-1 Dallas. That was enough for Coach Laviolette as he pulled out Rinne, who had allowed 4 goals on 18 shots, and replaced him with back-up goal Marek Mazanec——not Pekka’s night for sure. Tempers flared with pushing and shoving from both sides. Nashville got back-to-back power play chances, but again could not find the back of the net. Time was winding down in the 2nd, but before time could expire, the Stars put yet another puck in to end the period with a 5-1 lead…….(man, that was brutal)!!! The 3rd period opened with the Preds clawing to get back into the game, and Dallas showing no signs of letting up. The Predators finally scored late, when Callie Jarnkrok rocketed one in to close the gap to 5-2, which held on to become the game’s final score. The Preds’ push in the 3rd period was “too little, too late” as they could not recover from being out-scored, and out-played early. Needless to say, some regrouping will be necessary before they hit the ice for the next game.

Our game on Saturday night was in Glendale, Arizona vs. the Coyotes, with the Preds trying to get back in the win column. Rinne got the start in goal for Nashville. Both teams got power play chances midway in the 1st period, but neither could make it count. The Coyotes got on the board first though on a wrist shot through heavy traffic to gain the 1-0 lead. Things got no better a few minutes later when they scored again on a rebound that bounced behind Rinne to go ahead 2-0. Then Roman Josi sneaked in a quick shot to get the Preds on the board…..thank goodness! Then, Viktor Arvidsson was hit from behind and driven into the boards, and no sooner had he gotten to his feet, when P.K. Subban came to his defense and threw down the gloves to make it clear that no one does that to his teammate—gotta admire that! There was no other score until early in the 2nd, when Arizona went on the power play on a slashing penalty, and hit pay dirt to go up 3-1. The Preds then got a chance to get it back with another power play immediately, but had no luck there either. As the 3rd period got underway, Coyote Shane Doan got a breakaway down ice, but was fouled on a clear shot. He was awarded a penalty shot; fortunately, Rinne made the stop. Yet another power play opportunity came for the Preds about seven minutes in….again, no cigar! With five minutes remaining, Rinne allowed shot to rebound out, and the Coyotes slipped it right back in for their 4th goal of the night. Arizona goaltender Mike Smith played a whale of a game turning away 42 of 43 shots on goal by the Predators and handing them a 4-1 loss. Road games remain tough for Nashville; this is an area that is in desperate need of improvement moving forward.

Preds BluesOn Tuesday night, the Predators were back at Bridgestone Arena after the win-less road trip for a game with tough divisional rivals the St. Louis Blues. With two quality players, Ryan Ellis and Colton Sissons back in the lineup from their injuries and Pekka Rinne in goal, the Preds knew they must execute and play 3 strong periods to get the win. The Preds had two early scoring chances with power plays, but no goal. The Blues opened the scoring about eleven minutes in on a re-direct, and then added another goal on a blast over Rinne’s shoulder. Down 2-0 at the 1st intermission, the Preds would need to play catch-up in this one. Early in the 2nd, St. Louis tallied a power play goal to extend their lead to 3-0. Finally the Preds made it onto the board with a shot by James Neal, his 12th goal of the season about five minutes in….3-1 St. Louis. Then two minutes later, the Preds were back in it with a goal by Filip Forsberg. Our guys were playing with their hair on fire to get the tying goal …. (where was this team earlier?) Time ran out in the 2nd with nothing more on the scoreboard. Three minutes into the 3rd, Nashville’s Ryan Johansen hit pay dirt with a rocket past Jake Allen, and just like that, it was a tie game! Then, Captain Mike Fisher took a perfect pass from Colin Wilson and buried the puck to put the Preds out in front! AND before the Blues could recover, Mike Ribero lit the lamp for his fourth goal of the year….. Wow—–5-3 Nashville! The Blues emptied their net with 2 ½ minutes remaining to attempt to get something going, when Captain Fisher threw one at the net from the opposite blue line and tallied his second goal of the game to end this one 6-3!

The Preds had shocked everyone, and pulled off an amazing comeback from a 3-0 deficit to give Pekka Rinne his 250th career win! What a great night in Smashville!

Then Thursday night saw Nashville facing another Central Division opponent, the Minnesota Wild in an important game at Bridgestone. They were hoping to keep the energy going from Thursday night’s huge comeback win. Rinne was in goal for the Preds, and faced Devan Dubnyk, a former Predator, in the opposing net. Dubnyk had been on fire lately, and has one of the best save percentages in the league, so Nashville had their work cut out for them. Period 1 was scoreless halfway through, when the Wild put one in to get on the board. Two minutes later, Defenseman Ryan Ellis responded with a goal to tie the score. It was “yikes” time again for Preds fans as they watched Minnesota put two more pucks in the Nashville net within 30 seconds. The 2nd period was fast-paced, but there was no change on the scoreboard until Captain Mike Fisher found himself in prime position to tap in a feed from James Neal on the power play to bring the score to 3-2 Wild. 3rd period action had Nashville firing the puck on net and pulling out a 28-14 shot advantage. A power play chance for the Preds came with nine minutes left, but Dubnyk made a couple of great saves, keeping the Preds at bay. Still down a goal, Nashville emptied their net to get another offensive player on ice, but as sometimes happens, that backfired when Minnesota took a stray puck the length of the ice, followed by a 2-on-1 breakaway, both leading to empty net goals and giving the Wild the final 5-2 victory…..another tough loss for the Predators.

Although we see moments of excitement and stellar play from our team, (Tuesday night’s game vs. St. Louis, for instance)… there are clearly problems with consistency. The players, coaches, and fans all know that in this league, teams have got to play 60 full minutes of solid hockey in order to stack up wins. The good news is that with an 82-game season in the NHL, there is plenty of time to get things on track and accrue the needed points to get into the post-season. We know they can do it……….stay tuned!

Go, Preds!

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