MVP Sports Channel

Preds One Home, Three Away

Hello, Hockey Fans!

Welcome in to this week’s update on our Nashville Predators. It was an important slate of games with a home game followed by a three-game road trip to the West Coast. The Preds are playing well right now and are battling to maintain their current place in the standings.

Saturday night in Smashville saw the rival Chicago Blackhawks come in to take on our Predators. Juuse Saros started in goal for Nashville, and on IR was one of our top four defensemen Ryan Ellis, who is out day-to-day with a lower body injury. The Preds began the game showering Hawks’ goaltender Corey Crawford with shot after shot in a fast-paced start. The lone score in the first period belonged to Chicago on a power play goal by Patrick Kane. The first half of the 2nd was scoreless until Jordan Tootoo, a name Preds fans will recognize from his days in Smashville, got one by Saros, taking the game to 2-0. But the Preds responded with a goal by Viktor Arvidsson to close the gap. The scoring continued with a power play goal by Chicago, but only a few seconds later, Callie Jarnkrok stole the puck in the neutral zone and sent a rocket in on the very next shift, ending the period 3-2. Early in the 3rd, Arvidsson put in an amazing shot to log his second goal of the game and knot the score at 3. The clock counted down, and for the second game in a row, the Preds allowed the go-ahead goal with only a minute or so remaining in regulation. The Preds emptied their net with a minute to play in an attempt to tie, and as is sometimes the case, it worked against them. Chicago got possession and put the puck into our undefended goal to give themselves a 5-3 victory. It was a heartbreaker for sure as Preds fans saw the imminent defeat of the dreaded Blackhawks slip away in the final seconds—ugh!

On Thursday night, Nashville headed back out for a 3-game West Coast swing, starting with Anaheim. Bringing their record of 30-24-9 to face the always tough Ducks. Nashville needed to tally points to keep 3rd place position in the Western Conference. Nashville started Pekka Rinne in goal and thankfully, Ryan Ellis was back in the lineup after being injured last week. The Preds struck pay dirt first on a perfect pass by James Neal to Collin Wilson, who nailed a quick back-hand shot. Then 2 minutes later, Ellis sailed in a blast on the power play, and just like that….the Predators were up 2-zip! The Ducks responded with a goal on a rebound that popped out into the perfect spot for a return shot, getting Anaheim on the board. The 2nd period began with Nashville on their fourth power play of the night—(the Ducks are second in the NHL in penalty box minutes.) No goal there, but about halfway through the period, Callie Jarnkrok forced a turnover on a Ducks power play and passed the puck perfectly to Filip Forsberg who slammed it home to score a short-handed goal and give the Preds a 3-1 lead. But that was not to be for long; a couple of minutes later, Anaheim put another rebound back in to pull to within one. Then they closed that gap with less than a minute left before intermission to send the teams to the locker room tied at 3 each. The 3rd period was fast and furious with Anaheim putting the puck on net over and over, testing Rinne and upping their lead on the shot count to 34-21. The period belonged to the Ducks, and Nashville was just able to survive and hold on for the tie to send the game to overtime. The OT period seemed to be all Predators as they kept possession and made many quality shots on goal, but Anaheim’s goalie was spot-on. The extra period could not produce a winner, and the game was forced to a shoot-out. No shots made it in during the first 4 rounds, but in the 5th, the Ducks got one past Rinne to hand the Preds an 3-4 OT loss. Nashville earned one point out of this one, but let the win slip away after having had a 3-1 lead.

The West Coast swing continued on Thursday night as the Preds were at the Staples Center in Los Angeles taking on the Kings. Pekka Rinne was in goal for the guys in gold, and net-minder Jonathan Quick, who had missed the previous two meetings of these teams this season, was between the pipes for the Kings. Ryan Ellis began the warm-ups, but re-aggravated his prior lower-body injury and left the ice for the locker room. The opening period was scoreless until Callie Jarnkrok got Nashville on the scoreboard with about 3 minutes left. In the 2nd, L. A. scored the equalizer about 3 minutes in on a power play. Then shortly after the opening of the final period, Kevin Fiala banged one home to the back of the Kings’ net, giving the lead back to Nashville 2-1. About midway through, a slashing penalty proved costly to the Predators, as the Kings capitalized with a power play goal to tie the score once again.  The Preds got a chance to answer with their own power play immediately afterwards, but no goal resulted. It was a duel of goal-tenders from then on with the skills of both on display often, but no score sent the game to overtime. In OT, the Kings got a prime chance on a Nashville penalty of too many men on the ice—-yikes! And surely enough, they lit the lamp to win, 3-2. The Preds again got a point, but not the 2 points they were looking for.

On Saturday afternoon, the Predators were in San Jose at the SAP Cener facing the Sharks in a matinee game. Nashville continued to be in a tricky spot, scratching and clawing for position in the standings. It was the rookie Juuse Saros starting in goal for the Preds, pumped up and ready to go as always when he is needed. The Sharks got the scoring started early in the 1st period with a slap shot into heavy traffic that got past Saros. Ryan Johansen evened the score for the Preds on only their fourth shot on goal. In the 2nd  period, James Neal broke out of a recent goal drought with a big wrist shot past Sharks’ goalie Martin Jones, his 19th of the season, putting Nashville up 2-1. It was high drama at the end of this one as the Sharks went on the power play with just over2 minutes remaining, and when San Jose emptied their net, it was a 6-on-4 situation for the Preds to deal with——and deal with it they did!!!  P. K. Subban took the puck off the boards behind the Nashville net and hurled it down the length of the ice, where Viktor Arvidsson met it a few feet in front of the Sharks’ net and tapped it in for a short-handed goal giving the Predators a huge win in a real thriller!

This week’s games produced a mixed bag of results—a loss, a shoot-out loss, and overtime loss, and a win. Still, some points were achieved, which is always a good thing, especially now when the season is winding down and every point is critical in a very tight race among the Western Conference teams. Don’t miss the excitement—-be here next time for your weekly update from the zone!

Go, Preds!

(Debra Murray is a weekly contributing writer for MVP Sports Channel (and die-hard fan of the Nashville Predators).

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