MVP Sports Channel

The Deb Zone: Rough Road Trip | Predators

Hi again, Hockey Peeps!

Deb here with this week’s report on our “guys in gold.” The Predators have not begun their season as successfully as we had hoped or expected, but we fans remain confident that things will turn around as the team settles into their schedule.

On Saturday night, the Predators were at the SAP Center in San Jose taking on last year’s Western Conference champions in a playoff re-match.  Pekka Rinne was in goal again for Nashville.  Rinne turned away 9 shots and allowed 1 goal which became the only score in the 1st period.  In the 2nd, Yannick Weber went to the penalty box, setting up the Sharks to cash in on a power play opportunity and extend the lead 2-0. Before any of us could blink an eye, the Sharks found the back of the net again in less than a minute’s time.  Bam! 3-0 lead for San Jose.  Thankfully, with only 40 seconds left in the 2nd, James Neal scored a huge goal for the Predators, and the period ended with the Sharks ahead 3-1.  In the final period, Nashville worked the puck well, but was not able to create a scoring opportunity.  As the time ticked away, the Preds were down 2 goals, so in a desperate attempt to shorten the lead, they emptied their net.  This didn’t work out however, as Joel Thornton (a name Preds fans will remember all too well from last season’s round 2 playoff games) broke open and sped toward our empty net.  He was tripped up by a Predator, and according to NHL rules, was awarded the goal, making the score 4-1 in favor of the Sharks the game’s the final score.  The Preds ended the West Coast portion of this away-game stretch with no wins… good riddance to that part of the schedule!

Tuesday night, the Predators traveled to Denver to face the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center.  Looking to bounce back from Saturday’s loss, our guys were counting on their scoring forwards to break out and light the lamp.  Preds fans were delighted to see Craig Smith pick up the first goal of the game less than 2 minutes in.  However, Colorado followed up with a goal only a couple of minutes later, tying the score at one each.  After both teams killed off penalties, Matt Irwin (a new name on the Nashville roster this season) scored his first goal as a Predator.  The 1st period ended with a 2-1 Nashville lead. Woo hoo! The 2nd period opened with an early power play opportunity for the Preds, but to no avail. But another power play chance several minutes later did yield a goal from Ryan Johansen, his first of the season.  Nashville finished off the period with a huge penalty kill to protect their lead into the 2nd intermission.  The 3rd period began with a brief scuffle (it’s fun to see these every now and then in hockey….don’t you agree?) just to fire things up. 5 minutes in, Mattias Ekholm committed a tripping violation, putting the Avs on the power play, but the Preds’ penalty kill unit stepped up in a big way, and did not allow Colorado a single shot on goal during their man advantage.  The Avalanche threw everything they had at Rinne in the net as the clock wound down.  With 7 1/2 minutes left in regulation, Roman Josi banged one home to give the Predators a 4-1 lead.  About a minute later, Craig Smith extended their lead with his second goal of the night.  Nashville held on to get the 5-1 victory and improve their record to 3-5-1 for the young season. ( I love it when the good guys win)!

The Predators’ final game of this “forever” road trip was Thursday night in Phoenix taking on the Coyotes.  Pekka Rinne was in his usual spot between the pipes.  The Coyotes struck first midway through the 1st period.  But the Preds got a prime scoring opportunity immediately afterwards with two consecutive power plays in which they fired shot after shot at Louis Dominque in the Coyote net, but were not able to convert.  The Preds did find pay dirt when Matt Irwin sneaked one by heavy traffic in front of the Phoenix net and tallied his second goal of the year, tying the game at one apiece at the end of the 1st.  Period 2 continued to be a special teams frenzy and began with an early Predators infraction, giving Colorado their first power play chance of the game, but our penalty kill unit held them at bay.  Our guys had their own power play chance shortly after, but were not able to score either. Trading time in the penalty box continued, and the Coyotes went back on the power play mid-period, but still could not get one past Rinne; then the Preds returned to the man advantage once again.  This one paid off as Craig Smith fired one past the Coyote net-minder to give Nashville a 2-1 lead heading into the 2nd intermission.  The 3rd period got underway with both teams fighting hard for puck possession.  Phoenix peppered Rinne with shots from all sides, and about 6 minutes in, banged one home to tie the score 2-2.  With no other score, time expired sending the game to overtime.  The Predators played “keep away” with the puck during a large portion of the 5-minute 3 on 3 OT period.  With about 1 1/2 minutes  remaining, Nashville again got another, this time crucial, power play chance, but even with that advantage, were not able to find the back of the net.  For the first time, this season, the Preds game would be decided by a shoot-out.  Unfortunately, Rinne could not make the stops from the Coyote shooters, and Phoenix took the 3-2 shoot-out win.

The Predators began this tough road trip out west very poorly, but turned things around somewhat, getting points in 3 of the 5 away games.  Rinne was solid in the net overall, and some players who had yet to get their scoring sticks going, did so… reminding us that we have a team to be reckoned with when everyone is playing up to his potential.  When that happens, it is pure magic to see.  We can’t wait for more… see you next week!

Go, Preds!

Facebook Twitter Email