With only three games left in the regular season, the Nashville Predators would either come out swinging or take their time, trying to avoid any injury or mishap possible. However, with a possible playoff position still looming in the air as to wether the Predators would start out at home or away, the boys couldn’t afford to sit back and let the Minnesota Wild (who are completely out of the playoff running) come out and steal the show.
It’s hard to believe that at one point during this season, Minnesota was sitting pretty at the top – and by top, we mean the entire league. Injuries hit the Wild hard this season, with Minnesota almost exhausting their farm team’s roster. But, that’s the beauty of hockey; nothing is for certain. However, just because Minnesota’s out of the running doesn’t mean they’ll just finish off the rest of their season quietly. The Wild have won their last three games, including Chicago 5-4 on Sunday. Needless to say, Minnesota came to the Music City raring to go.
- When Nashville announced that goalie Chet Pickard would be called up from the Milwaukee Admirals, it was pretty clear Pekka would be taking the night off. Though said from officials to be suffering from both the stomach flu and cold-like symptoms (well, which one?), it was obvious Pekka was on the scratched list just so he could have a night to rest and for Anders Lindback to get some much needed ice time.
- Jack Hillen, Ryan Ellis, and Brian McGrattan were the usual scratches last night, but also making the list were Matt Halischuk, Jordin Tootoo, and (surprise, surprise) Colin Wilson. Halischuk has proven himself time and time again, but Trotz chose Craig Smith of the lineup in his place. As for Toots, well he may be sitting more often thanks to Radulov’s tremendous influence on the team so far. And, last but not least, Colin is well, still healing (…).
- If you happened to catch the game last night, you would have noticed both teams had problems staying on their feet, with many of the players simply dropping to the ice. Snipers in the Bridgestone? No, just “choppy” ice conditions. Thanks to the unseasonable warm weather, the ice in the Bridgestone wasn’t at peak condition, thus allowing for more divots in the ice, causing issues with the blades on the skates. In fact, we are pretty positive Mike Fisher is made of lead.
- The first period was slow for both teams, possibly because of the issue with the ice, but Nashville was able to release 10 shots to Minnesota’s 12. Both Lindback and Backstrom were ready, whether the ice was melting or not.
- Gabriel put the first points on the board at 12:31 in the 2nd Period with a clean pass from Nick Spaling (11th assist). Bourque has been the rookie on fire as of late, sealing his 7th goal of the season.
- Minnesota responded to Bourque’s goal at 17:53 with a goal from Dany Heatley, his 23rd goal of the season. The Predators and Wild would end the 2nd Period tied at one.
- The 3rd Period resembled the first, with no goals recorded by either team. Both teams evenly hit seven shots on goal, but both Linback and Backstrom were still on their A-Games.
- Overtime produced no goals, so to the shootout they went. This would be Anders Lindback’s first career shootout. Here’s how it played out:
- MINNESOTA – Erik Christensen – MISS
- NASHVILLE – Martin Erat – SAVE
- MINNESOTA – Mikko Koivu – SAVE
- NASHVILLE – Alexander Radulov – GOAL
- MINNESOTA – Devin Setoguchi – SAVE
- Radulov’s ego will rise as he continues to shine on NHL ice, which as long as he is wearing a Predators sweater, we don’t care. Anders Lindback not only made Nashville proud, he also made goalie coach Mitch Korn beam with pride, realizing that even behind Pekka, Nashville has an extraordinary goalie. Lindy was able to stop 25 of 26 goals on net.
- As stated in the headline, penalties were Nashville’s best friend last night as the Predators racked up six penalties in the 1st and 3rd periods; that’s three more than Minnesota accumulated. Lucky for the Predators, the Wild weren’t able to capitalize on any of their penalty chances. Here are the six offenders:
- Ryan Suter – 7:25 1st Period – Cross Checking
- Brandon Yip – 16:42 1st Period – Roughing
- David Legwand – 18:53 1st Period – Interference
- Martin Erat – 0:42 3rd Period – Tripping
- Nick Spaling – 11:54 3rd Period – Hooking
- Andrei Kostitsyn – 19:48 3rd Period – Tripping
Although Minnesota snuck away with one point, Nashville ultimately left with the big W, which is better than nothing. It is understandable why the Predators want smooth sailing for the remainder of their regular season, but with Detroit nipping at their heels, Nashville can’t afford any losses this week.
The Predators finish their final home game on Thursday against the Dallas Stars, a fellow playoff contender. The Predators will end the their season in Denver against the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday.