The Predators have already had their way with Minnesota once this year, reminding Ryan Suter of the team he abandoned back in the off-season to “be closer to home”. With a shutout victory of defending Stanley Cup champs the L.A. Kings on Thursday, Nashville was still riding high as they flew into St. Paul to face the menacing Wild. However, tonight would prove much more difficult than the last time they visited, with controversy to follow suite.
- The seven d-man assault left Matt Halischuk on the scratched list, along with Brian McGrattan. Similar to the first encounter with Minnesota, Chris Mason was called up to man the net.
- Paul Gaustad would be the leading man of the night, notching his first goal of the season at 10:11 in the first period with a wrister past Backstrom. Craig Smith would pick up his first assist of the season as well.
- As usual, the Predators were out-shot in the first period, this time 10 to 6 by the Minnesota Wild.
- The second period would prove a bit more physical for the Predators, with the Wild hammering down at all costs. After immense pressure on net, the Cal Clutterbuck collected a tip-in goal from Ryan Suter to tie the game at one.
- The Predators would not retain a goal after Clutterbuck’s, nor would the Wild, thus sending the game into an all-too-familiar scenario. However, this is where the controversy comes into play. Apparently, there is a new face-off rule and Mr. Paul Gaustad did not abide to those new standards… Here’s Rule 76.4:
“Both players facing-off are prohibited from batting the puck withtheir hand in an attempt to win the face-off. Any attempt by either center to win the face-off by batting the puck with their hand shallresult in a minor penalty. This penalty shall be announced as ” Minor Penalty for Delay of Game – Face-off Violation”. The two players involved in the actual face-off (the centers) are not permitted to play the puck with their hand without incurring a penalty under this ruleuntil such time as a third player (from either team) has at least touched the puck. Once the face-off is deemed complete (and a winner of the face-off is clear) hand passes shall be enforced as per Rule 79.”
…And here’s a .gif of what Gaustad did wrong:
Did you catch Gaustad’s mistake? No? As you watch the animation above, note that Gaustad’s hand grazes the puck as he and Granlund battle it out. Although it is clear Gaustad is not “batting the puck away to win the faceoff”, that is what the referee apparently thought, as this was probably his first encounter with this new rule at hand. The Wild would inevitably score on Gaustad’s penalty, sealing the win in favor of Minnesota in OT.
But was it really a bad call on the ref’s behalf that crushed the Predators? Though it wasn’t very helpful, this new rule did not solely cause certain doom for the Predators last night. A double minor on Devin Setoguchi in the third period, giving the Predators a four-minute powerplay, could’ve prevented this whole “Rule 76.4” mess in the first place, had the Predators worked together to nab a goal. Now, the Predators did outshoot the Wild twelve to eight in the third, but Nashville had plenty of opportunities to throw this one in the bag, but just couldn’t seem to get it together long enough to capitalize on their attempts.
The Predators will have to shake this one off quick, as they return tonight to face the ever welcoming Chicago Blackhawks, their first meeting of the season tonight at Bridgestone Arena.