Has it decided that the Predators love the game so much they just have to beyond regulation? Or am I – and everyone else – just suffering from a case of déjà vu? Either way you slice it, the Predators are coming out with the two points — whilst doling a point to their given opponent. The Tampa Bay Lightning are just as their name perceives – lightning fast and that trait has helped boost them to the top of the Eastern Conference and fourth in the league (tied at 74 points with the Blues who have one less loss than the Bolts). The Predators have more of a “if I can setup the play, I’ll just dump it” mentality, which has gotten better this season than in the past, but with a in-your-face team like Tampa Bay, the Predators needed to be a little more risqué when it comes to shooting the puck… at the net.
SCRATCHES: Mattias Ekholm, Colin Wilson, Olli Jokinen
- For the third game in a row, neither team was able to get one in the net during the third period. Chalk this one up to both Pekka Rinne and Andrei Vasilevskiy just being on point. Rinne blocked ten shots-on-goal while Vasilevskiy blocked his eight shots. I mean, look what this kid did to rob Mike Ribeiro:
- In only his second NHL Career game, Anthony Bitetto – who was called up to fill in for the injured Mattias Ekholm – dropped the gloves against Brett Connolly. Bitetto did so to defend fellow player Craig Smith, which made a fairly good impression on his teammates – that, and Bitetto clearly won the bout.
- Seth Jones would finally get the blood flowing at 8:31 with his 6th goal of the season. Viktor Stalberg (4) and Anton Volchenkov (5) nabbed the assists.
- Just four minutes later, Taylor Beck would put Nashville up 2-0 at 12:47, his fifth goal of the season. Paul Gaustad (9) and Eric Nystrom (5) would tally the assists.
- Nashville would own the second period, sending 11 shots-on-goal compared to Tampa Bay’s eight.
- Ah, but the Lightning weren’t going down without a fight. At just 1:20 into the third, Brett Connolly made up for losing his bout with Bitetto and sent a wrister whizzing past Rinne, his 10th of the season.
- And, just seven minutes later, Nikita Kucherov would tie the game at 7:50 with a slapshot, his 21st of the season.
- The Predators just couldn’t muster up another goal (nor could Tampa Bay) so thus the déjà vu of bonus hockey returns.
- In what everyone deemed was going into a shootout, James Neal had other plans. Breaking the puck away with less than 30 seconds left in overtime, Neal connected on a wrister to win the game, his 18th goal of the season. Roman Josi (28) and Matt Cullen (7) assisted in the winner.
- Viktor Stalberg, who was called up to fill in for the ailing Colin Wilson, saw 11:43 of ice time walked away with one point (assist).
- With the trade deadline fast approaching (March 2nd), will Nashville make a move? No doubt they will, but in order to get something good, you’ve got to trade something good in return (whether that be a player, draft pick, or a combination of both). With no word on Ryan Ellis’ return (and the fact his jersey has no appeared in the GnashVegas auction), my guess is Ellis will be up for trade bait. Yes, he did just recently sign a five-year, $12.5M contract, but remember, we traded Patric Hornqvist off during his five-year contract extension, too (just one year after he signed it).
- Colin Wilson may be ready to return within the next game or two, as he was practicing with the team yesterday morning.
- With just ten more wins, Nashville can secure a playoff spot. That, and they are just two points from being the first team to reach 80 points this season. Me gusta.
If you missed last night’s game, then you surely don’t want to miss tomorrow’s against the Winnipeg Jets, a division rival that’s clawing for a playoff spot. Winnipeg is twelve points behind Nashville, but has won their last two; they’ll be looking to knock of the league leader for sure tomorrow night.