MVP Sports Channel

Preds On The Hunt For Crucial Points

Hi again, Hockey Fans….

Thanks for joining me in the zone for this week’s Nashville Predators update. Every week is an important one as we follow our team through the waning games of the regular season. This past week was exciting, so let’s get right to what’s been happening on the ice.

Monday night, the Preds were back at home at Bridgestone Arena taking on the Winnipeg Jets. Our man, Pekka Rinne was between the pipes for Nashville. The Jets tallied a lead in the 1st on a power play goal, and then again a few moments later at full strength, so the Preds faced an early deficit. But they answered on a goal by Austin Watson to make it a 2-1 game. Just before the buzzer for intermission, Craig Smith made an amazing pass to Mike Fisher, who buried the puck to send the teams to the locker rooms tied at 2 each. In the 2nd, the Predators got the go-ahead goal when Ryan Johansen found Filip Forsberg primed and in the perfect spot to light the lamp with his 28th goal of the season. But lo and behold, Winnipeg came right back to even the score at 3, and then put in an extra one to take back the lead 4-3 about midway through the period. It was gut-check time for Rinne then as the Jets caught him without his stick in hand, and they banged one in.  It was ruled a no-goal on a challenge by the Predators’ coaching staff due to an offsides by Winnipeg, so the score remained 4-3. The 3rd period saw yet another see-saw in scoring as Nashville knotted the score up again on a beauty by Ryan Johansen, his 12th of the year. As time wound down in regulation, every shot was a potential game-winner, but time expired with no one finding the back of the net—we were headed to overtime! The Preds played “keep-away” early in the OT, trying to get a high percentage shot. Rinne made a Herculean save and on the following shift, Winnipeg was called for hooking, giving Nashville a power play opportunity with about 3 ½ minutes remaining. Then, James Neal saved the day with a quick wrist shot winner to give the Preds the OT victory in a thrilling game! Way to go, Nealer!

On to Thursday night’s action—it was the Predators traveling to our nation’s capital to take on Washington. It was two of the league’s elite goal-tenders across the ice in Pekka Rinne, who was playing in his 500th NHL game, and the Capitals’ Braden Holtby. The Capitals still lead the league, and the Preds were looking to pick up 2 critical points by taking them down for the second time this season. About midway through the opening period, Nashville committed a turnover, and Washington made them pay, with a goal to get on the board first. Both teams were scoreless in the 2nd as defense kicked it up on both ends of the ice. With only a minute left, “the Real Deal” James Neal tied the game 1-1 on a wrister that zoomed by Holtby. Offsetting penalties at the end of the 2nd meant that the 3rd period would begin with a 4-on-4 situation. No score in the final period forced overtime—-again! In OT, Viktor Arvidsson sped down ice in a 2-on-1 with Ryan Johansen, and fired a shot over Holtby’s shoulder to hand Washington the OT loss and secure  the important 2 points for the Preds. The better news at this point was that our guys in gold have a record of 8-2-3 in their last 13 games, and were 3-3 in their most recent overtime games….a REAL improvement in their OT performance compared to earlier in the season when OT was a marked weakness. It was a fantastic game and a great win for Nashville.

The second leg of the short road trip took the Predators to Raleigh, North Carolina on Saturday night to face the Hurricanes. Juuse Saros got the starting nod in goal for Nashville, looking to lead his team to another victory and another 2 points. That did not start off well as the Canes put in 2 goals in the opening period. Midway through the 2nd, Viktor Arvidsson got the Preds on the board with a rebound he found and returned. Carolina extended their lead to 3-1 shortly after, and then went on a power play on the very next shift—yikes! Nashville’s penalty kill unit held and the 2nd, normally a strong period for the Preds, was not one of their best. The teams went to intermission with no change on the scoreboard. In the 3rd, neither team could find the back of the nets, and nearing the end of regulation, the Predators pulled out Saros in favor of an extra attacker. It paid off on a blast by Filip Forsberg with 1:49 remaining, cutting the Canes’ lead to one. Then another break came for Nashville; Carolina committed a frustration penalty, giving the Predators a power play and a great scoring chance. But the luck ran out there when Caroline lit the lamp on Nashville’s empty net, giving them a 4-2 lead and sealing the win. The slow start by the Preds had been too costly, and they came away from this one empty-handed, a disappointment after such a huge win in D.C. on Thursday—-ugh!

This week did produce 4 out of 6 possible points for Nashville, so that is a positive. They head back home to Smashville for a 3-game home stand next week, in need of crucial points in the standings. Be sure to stay tuned for all the latest on our Predators, as they stay in the playoff hunt! See you back here in the zone next week!

Go, Preds!

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


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