Preds down Bolts 6-1; Sissons earns Hat Trick

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After the frustrating loss against Montreal on Tuesday, it was clear the Predators had moved on after trouncing the Tampa Bay Lightning 6-1 last night. While it is easy to fuss about the inconsistency Nashville has been plagued with this season, the type of communication and style of play that came from the team last night was further proof that they are capable of working together successfully. One could argue that perhaps Tampa Bay was simply having an off night and maybe they were. The difference here is Nashville’s victory was not guided by fluky behavior from the Bolts; they were actually organized.

Mike Fisher got the ball rolling at 2:25 in the first period, earning his 11th goal of the season. Fisher’s powerplay goal was assisted in part by Ryan Johansen (21) and Mattias Ekholm (13).

While the first period would end 1-0 with Nashville on top, Filip Forsberg would open the second period at 3:56 with his 9th goal of the season, assisted by Kevin Fiala (3) and Ryan Johansen (22), to give Nashville a 2-0 lead.

It would begin to look like Tampa Bay was on its way back as Tyler Johnson collected his 12th goal of the season, breaking Nashville’s lead in half a 2-1. Colton Sissons, however, would object to that and punch his 3rd goal of the season, assisted by Mike Fisher (12).

Not even a minute later, Ryan Ellis would notch his 5th goal of the season, but not first without some nay-say from the officials. Linesmen initially called goaltender interference on Viktor Ardvisson, claiming the goal was no good:

Predators head coach Peter Laviolette quickly challenged the ruling, which was reversed despite the disapproval of the home crowd. But before Nashville could celebrate, head coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Jon Cooper, threw out the challenge that Jarnkrok was off-sides prior to the goal. However, after thoroughly reviewing the play, it was deemed inconclusive and Ryan Ellis’ goal would stand. Colin Wilson (11) and Viktor Arvidsson (15) would notch the assists.

The third period would belong to Colton Sissons as he not only notched his fourth and fifth goals of the season, he also picked up his first career NHL hat trick. This was also his first multi-goal game in his NHL career, too. Oh, and yeah, he’s the first player in NHL history to record a hat trick with the second goal an empty-netter and the third goal with a goaltender in net. Sort of a weird record but I highly doubt Sissons is complaining.

Victories like these can help propel the Predators through this second half of the season and give them the boost for which they have desperately been searching. They will have tonight to see if that momentum lasts as they move south to Sunrise to take on the 16-15-8 Florida Panthers. Game time is at 6:30PM.

 

Preds sign Matt Carle to one-year Deal

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Image Source: Tampa Bay Lightning

Keeping everyone on their toes today, the Predators confirmed a second signing this afternoon, this time involving veteran defenseman Matt Carle. Here’s the official word from the Predators:

The Predators newest defenseman, who inked a one-year, $700,000 deal with the club on Wednesday, played for Preds Head Coach Peter Laviolette and Assistant Coach Kevin McCarthy from 2009-12, when the three were members of the Philadelphia Flyers organization. Add that to the time spent with Preds Assistant Coach Phil Housley and Team USA at the 2013 World Championship, and the familiarity with those behind the bench can only help Carle find his game once more.

Bought out of the final two seasons of a six-year deal by Tampa Bay, Carle is hoping for a fresh start in Nashville with a blue line that is arguably the League’s best.

Carle is a veteran of 724 career regular-season games – the most of any Preds defenseman – and 127 postseason contests, which include two trips to the Stanley Cup Final, once in 2010 with Laviolette and the Flyers, the other in 2015 with Tampa Bay. The 31-year-old blueliner, born in Anchorage, Alaska, is excited to see what’s next to come in Tennessee.

Carle saw the most statistical success of his career while playing under Laviolette, hitting the 35-plus point mark for three consecutive seasons, including 40 points in 2010-11. With the interest in Nashville already present, a phone call with Laviolette may have sealed the deal.

Drafted 47th overall in the 2003 NHL Draft, Matt Carle was actually Tampa Bay’s highest paid defenseman last season at $5.5M. However, after a disappointing 2015-16 season, the Lightning bought out the remainder of his contract and off to unrestricted free agency he went… and into the arms of the Nashville Predators. At 31-years-old, Carle will be the oldest defenseman on the team, filling the veteran void left behind by Weber and Jackman. Matt Carle should find success under his former coach, which should overshadow his performance last season.

Preds take Lightning 3-2 with OT Winner

Source: John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images

Source: John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images

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

FIRST PERIOD:

  • 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:

SECOND PERIOD:

  • 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.

THIRD PERIOD:

  • 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.

OVERTIME:

  • 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.

NOTEWORTHY:

  • 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.