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Hat Trick and Halfway Point Nears for Preds | Nashville

Hello, Hockey Fans…

Deb here back in the zone to bring you the latest from our Nashville Predators. As we near the mid-season point, it is important to begin to stack up wins and points to gain some ground in the standings, and this week, the Preds look to get that done.

On Tuesday night, Predators fans were treated to a homecoming of sorts at Bridgestone Arena.  Former Predator Captain and the face of the franchise Shea Weber, who spent 10 years wearing Predators’ gold, returned to Smashville for the first time with his new team, the Montreal Canadians. Pekka Rinne was between the pipes for Nashville and P. K. Subban, whom the Preds acquired during the Weber trade, was still on IR with an upper body injury and is anticipated to be out of the lineup for 2-3 more weeks. Emotions were high in the opening period, with a heartfelt tribute to Shea during a 1st period timeout. There was a penalty kill for each team, but with Montreal leading 11-7 in the shot count, the game was scoreless at the intermission. It looked as though that was to be the case for the 2nd as well, but with less than a minute remaining, Kevin Fiala rattled the strings of the Montreal net with the first goal of the night to put the Preds on top 1-0. About 5 minutes into the final period, Shea Weber put an exclamation point on “his night” by blasting one of his signature slap shots past Rinne to tie the score at one each. As the period wound down, the Canadians sent shot after shot toward the Nashville net, but Rinne turned away all the remainder of their 38 shots in regulation, forcing the game to overtime….(Oh no!) Montreal kept possession of the puck for over half of the 5 minute overtime period, taking repeated shots with Rinne making some brilliant saves. With only about a minute left, the “puck luck” ran out for the Predators, as Montreal’s Max Pacuiretty was in place to rocket a pass from Alexander Radulov, another former Predator, into the Nashville net to take the OT win 2-1. It was a thriller of a game, and the Preds did acquire a single point from the overtime defeat, but they remain plagued by problems with games that go beyond regulation.

“…and with their goal-tender returning to the ice, Sissons tallied another one…..his third of the game, giving him his first career hat trick!”

Things were looking up—-way up, in Tampa on Thursday night as the Preds traveled to south Florida to take on the Tampa Bay Lightning. It was Pekka Rinne in goal for Nashville. Both teams showcased their special teams, as penalties were abundant with 6 in the 1st period alone, but with only one resulting in a goal. Mike Fisher scored on a Nashville power play about 3 minutes in, but otherwise, the period was scoreless. In the 2nd, Nashville got their scoring sticks going, finding pay dirt multiple times. Filip Forsberg, Colton Sissons, and Ryan Ellis, all scored even-strength goals, and Tyler Johnson for the Lightning put in a power play goal, putting the Predators out in front 4-1 at the 2nd intermission. As the final period waned away with no change on the scoreboard, Tampa Bay emptied their net in hopes of closing Nashville’s lead with an extra attacker, but Colton Sissons put his second puck of the night into TB’s empty net, and with their goal-tender returning to the ice, Sissons tallied another one…..his third of the game, giving him his first career hat trick! The game ended with Nashville handing the Lightning a 6-1 loss. Rinne made 27 saves on 28 shots on goal and surprisingly, the Preds’ 6 goals came on only 19 shots….not too shabby.  It was Nashville’s fourth straight road win!

Then, the following evening, Nashville was in Sunrise, Florida to face the Florida Panthers and were eager to continue their stellar play from the previous night. Back-up goalie Juuse Saros got the starting nod in goal for the Preds, who were missing some key players from their lineup with injuries. P. K. Subban remained on IR, and newly added were James Neal and Viktor Arvidsson, so some big adjustments were necessary in the line groupings. The Panthers came out fast and furious as they got on the board early with a rebound chipped in less than three minutes into the 1st. Period #2 began with power plays but no score early. Florida had the advantage on the shot count 22-11 halfway in…..yikes! The Panthers held onto their 1-0 lead as the teams headed to the locker rooms for intermission. About six minutes into the 3rd, Craig Smith took a beauty of a pass from Mike Ribero to sail one into the Panthers’ net……his seventh goal of the year, and a welcome sight for Preds fans after a lengthy drought of points from Smith. With the game now tied at one apiece, both teams dug in their heels to see this one through. At about the halfway mark in the period, the Panthers sneaked a shot by Saros, whose play had been solid the entire game, giving them the go-ahead goal.  Desperate for the tying goal, Nashville pulled Saros out of the net to get an extra offensive player onto the ice, but ran out of time, losing this one 2-1—–a tough loss for our guys who gave up a very “winnable” game.

Points in the standings are becoming more and more crucial in the very competitive Western Conference as we near the halfway mark in the season. With a record of 17-15-4 and a current points total of 41, our Predators have to find a way to string together some badly-needed wins. I will be cheering them on, as will many other of the Predators’ faithful fans. I hope you will join me here in the “zone” for all the details. As always…..

Go, Preds!


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