MVP Sports Channel

Things are looking good in Smashville!

Hello, Hockey Peeps!

Welcome back to the zone for your weekly update on our Nashville Predators. The All-Star break is approaching, and things are looking good in Smashville after last week’s games.

On Sunday evening, the Predators finished their lengthy road trip in Minnesota taking on the Wild. The game was sure to be a tough one, as Minnesota leads the league in points in the standings. In the net was Pekka Rinne, with Josi, Wilson, and Salomaki still out on IR. In the opening seconds of the game before the Preds could even get settled in, the Wild sneaked one past Rinne to score the first goal of the game on their very first shot on goal. Then at around the midway point in period #1, they got a second one past him to hit pay dirt again….2-0 Wild. But never fear, less than three minutes into the 2nd period, James “the Real Deal” Neal cut the Minnesota lead in half on a feed from Mike Ribero. Nashville had to depend on their penalty kill unit heavily during the 2nd, but with the fast pace of the game, the Preds were back in it, with solid play going into intermission. The Predators opened the 3rd period leading the shot-count 22-16, but still down a goal. Filip Forsberg earned his keep by putting in his 13th goal of the season, assisted by Ryan Johansen, which tied the game at 2. Filip “Scoresberg” did it again on a brilliant pass from Ryan Ellis with 6 ½ minutes remaining in regulation, giving our guys the lead 3-2. The Wild pulled their goalie out with 1:48 left to make a final push to tie the game. With a bit over a minute left, Ryan Johansen banked one into Minnesota’s empty net to seal the win for the Predators. This was surely a sweet victory for Preds’ fans, seeing our guys come from behind to defeat the league-leading Wild and give head coach Peter Laviolette his 500th career NHL win! Awesome!

Game #2 this week found our Predators back in Smashville after a long stretch of road games taking on the Buffalo Sabres. Coach Lavy gave the starting nod in goal to Juuse Saros, and with Colin Wilson back from 8 games on IR, the lineup looked solid. The Sabres had a brief 5-on-3, but the Preds turned it around on them on a breakaway by Callie Jarnkrok who made a sweet pass to Forsberg for a short-handed goal, giving the Predators a 1-0 lead 10 minutes into the initial period. Nashville outshot Buffalo in the rest of the period, with several scoring chances for both, but the goal-tenders did their jobs beautifully, and the score remained 1-0 at the intermission. The Sabres managed to tie the game a little over halfway into the 2nd. Then Cody McLeod sneaked the puck behind the skates of the Buffalo net-minder to put Nashville back out in front 2-1. With only 17 seconds left in the 2nd, the visitors scored yet again to take the game to intermission tied at 2. In the 3rd, the back-and-forth play continued with Viktor Arvidsson rattling the net strings giving the lead back to Nashville 3-2. They extended their lead to 4-2 when James Neal tallied on a beauty of a pass by Callie Jarnkrok. A subsequent goal by Buffalo was reviewed and waved off—-whew! The score remained 4-2, but the Sabres were not going away; they put another shot from a side angle in behind Saros with a bit over 5 minutes left in regulation—4-3 Preds. Buffalo pulled out their goalie, as expected, with slightly over a minute left, and it paid off with the tying goal for the visiting Sabres….OT hockey, again! The Predators would have to settle for a single point in this one, as Buffalo’s Jack Eichel slipped the puck past Saros to secure the OT win 5-4.

 

Then on Thursday night, the Predators again were on home ice in Smashville facing the Columbus Blue Jackets in the final game prior to the All-Star break. Between the pipes for Nashville was our #1 goalie Pekka Rinne, hoping to secure the 2 points from this important game with one of the strongest teams in the NHL. Columbus gained the lead in the 1st with a wrist shot into heavy traffic that impeded Rinne’s line of sight….1-0 Jackets. A rough and physical 1st period ended with that score, but in the 2nd period, Callie Jarnkrok evened the game on a power play goal which went through a coach’s challenge from Columbus, but stood as a good goal….1-1. Then the guys in gold stepped out into the lead on a goal by Harry Zolnierczyk…(yikes, I like a few more vowels in a name.) The Preds picked up a huge penalty kill with about 6 minutes left against the Blues power play unit, which happens to be #1 in the league…..Nice! Columbus came out strong in the 3rd, but it was Nashville who got on the board again on a goal by Craig Smith assisted by Mattias Ekholm..3-1 Preds! During a 4-on-4 after an episode of pushing and shoving, Columbus cut the Preds’ lead to one about halfway into the period. Then a bit of breathing room opened up when Craig Smith did it again, notching his second goal of the game and restoring the Predators’ 2-goal lead. But clutch time came yet again for Nashville as Columbus closed the lead to 4-3 with 2 ½ minutes left to play in regulation. The Jackets emptied their net as time clicked down to add the extra attacker, but it was a no-go! The guys in gold came from behind to win this one 4-3……..Sweet!

Our team picked up 5 points in the standings this week and have pulled themselves back into a spot as one of the top teams in the division. A few days off for the All-Star break will provide them with the opportunity for a bit of extra rest to hopefully be beneficial as we head toward the last couple of months of regular season play. It is a fun and exciting time to be a Predators fan……stay tuned!

Go, Preds!

Debra Murray

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