MVP Sports Channel

Preds OT Win At The Halfway Point

Hi again, Everyone!

Deb here in the zone to update you on how things went last week for our Nashville Predators.  Clearly, wins are needed now more than ever as the season reaches its halfway mark. The Preds have a few points to make up for in order to remain among the top teams in their division.

On Sunday night, the Predators were in Chicago at the United Center to once again face their biggest rivals….the dreaded Blackhawks. Our lineup was somewhat fractured as injuries have stacked up for Nashville with Subban, Neal, Arvidsson, and Salomaki out. Chicago struck first in the opening period, but that goal was quickly matched as Mattias Ekholm answered with a goal for Nashville on the very next shift. The Blackhawks went back out in front 2-1 before the conclusion of the 1st. Rinne and Hawks’ goalie Corey Crawford held off scoring opportunities galore throughout the 2nd until early in the 3rd when Austin Watson slammed one home tying the score at 2 each. With about nine minutes left in regulation, Chicago’s Ryan Hartman slipped the puck in behind Rinne to score a goal that was reviewed  and determined to be good….3-2. Nashville furiously made shot after shot, no less than 3 (by my count) of which banged off the post of the net, barely missing goals that could easily have gone our way. The Preds emptied their net as time wound down to get on an extra attacker, but Chicago’s Hartman got possession and put in an empty netter, and then was able to do it again, giving him a natural hat trick and handing the Predators a 5-2 loss and a TON of frustration.

The season was officially halfway done on Tuesday night as the Predators were back in home gold jerseys taking on the Vancouver Canucks in Smashville. With Rinne between the pipes and Viktor Arvidsson back in the lineup, there was positive energy in the building. Early in the 1st, Nashville’s Filip Forsberg redirected a puck into the Canucks’ net, but it was called a “no goal” on a rule regarding the position of his stick when he sent the puck toward the net…..(there are a zillion tiny rules in hockey.) Nashville spent plenty of time in their own offensive zone in the 1st, but were not able to get a goal on the board to show for it. However, on the first shift after the puck dropped to begin the 2nd,  Austin Watson opened the scoring for the Preds as he took a ricochet from the back wall and fired it home—1-0 Preds! With an almost even shot-count, the goalies kept the remaining shots at bay, and the score at the 2nd intermission held at 1-0. The Predators made a huge penalty kill with about five minutes remaining and Rinne made a remarkable save that was surely one for the highlight reels, both of which allowed Nashville to hang onto their lead by a thread. The Canucks emptied their net for the extra offensive player, and with 48 seconds remaining, their gamble paid off when the Canucks’ Brandon Sutter sneaked one behind Rinne for the tying goal, sending the game to overtime—-NOT good according to past history! But hold on to your hats…..20 seconds into the OT period, Roman Josi scored! Unfortunately, a call was made on the ice that it was a “no goal” due to goaltender interference by Arvidsson, who inadvertently went into the blue ice and got into the goalie’s way—–high drama in OT! With slightly over 2 minutes left, Mattie Ekholm committed a holding infraction, sending him to the penalty box and leaving the Canucks with a man advantage for the rest of the game…..(geezaloo)!!! But the hockey “powers that be” smiled on the Predators in spite of it all. Josi got control of a loose puck and sailed down the ice beside Callie Jarnkrok on a 2-on-1 breakaway. Josi brilliantly held onto the puck till the last possible second, then passed it to Jarnkrok who buried it in the Vancouver net with 2 seconds on the clock…..scoring the game-winning, short-handed, overtime goal and giving Nashville their first overtime victory this season—-and in dramatic fashion!!! (These games are why we LOVE this sport)!!!

The second half of the season kicked off at Bridgeston Arena on Thursday night as the Predators faced Tuukka Rask and the storied Boston Bruins, who were on a run of wins and points and are currently one of the best road teams in the league. Across the ice from Rask, was Juuse Saros, who was making his 8th start in goal for Nashville. Subban, Neal, Wilson, and Salomaki were still out of the Predators’ lineup with

Injuries. About midway into the 1st, Zane Mcintyer had to replace Rask who took a puck around the underside of his mask and was forced to leave the game. The physicality of the game continued as Roman Josi took a shot to the head giving Nashville a power play on the 5 minute major infraction. Unfortunately, the Bruins have the 2nd best penalty kill percentage in the league, and Nashville was not able to convert. The teams headed to the locker rooms with nothing on the scoreboard at the intermission.  As the 2nd period got underway, Preds fans came to their feet when for the third game in a row, Austin Watson scored the first goal for his team to put them on the board, 1-0! However, the Bruins tied the game on a power play goal from a shot into heavy traffic in front of the Nashville net, 1-1 game! Then with a little more than 2 minutes remaining till intermission, Filip Forsberg sneaked in a beauty behind Mcintyer, his 10th goal of the year, to put Nashville up 2-1. That score held into the 3rd, with several fantastic saves being made by Saros as Boston threw everything they had at him. It was crunch time, and tempers flared for both teams in the final minutes. The Bruins, as expected, emptied their net, but Saros came through with 35 saves on 36 shots and preserved the 2-1 win for our guys in gold….woohoo!

Getting these home wins in tight games, the Predators are showing that our team is ready to dig in and stand tall as the second half of the season gets underway. Our guys head back out for an extensive 5-game road trip next week, hoping to take the momentum from the home wins with them. Fingers are crossed that they can do just that; stay tuned!

As always…..

Go, Preds!

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