Preds defeat Canucks in OT Stunner

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Image Source: NHL Public Relations

Overtime. More specifically, 3-on-3 overtime. Nashville’s nagging nemesis. Since it was introduced last season, the Predators have had a difficult time finding success after regulation ends. But last night, Calle Jarnkrok decided to change that 0-3 OT record (not including SO losses) to 1-3… with 1.5 seconds left in OT.

But let’s first talk about the game before this overtime craziness. While the score sheet notates that there were no goals recorded in the first period, don’t tell that to Filip Forsberg. Early in the first, Forsberg blasted one by Ryan Miller, but was immediately waved off by the officials as being played with a high-stick. After a quick review, it was still determined to have been played with a high-stick and the score remained at 0-0.

Austin Watson, on the other hand, made up for the missed goal just 35 seconds into the second period for his third goal of the season. Mike Fisher (14) and Roman Josi (16) assisted in giving Nashville the lead early into the second.

Nashville would maintain that lead until Miller was pulled towards the end of the third period. And guess what? That extra attacker move proved successful for Vancouver, as Brandon Sutter slipped the puck by Rinne to tie the game. With 49 seconds left. Woof.

It’s no surprise that most Preds fans feared the worst as time ticked down to zero in regulation. Again, overtime hasn’t exactly been Nashville’s strong suite (to put it nicely). Needing these points, the Predators would have to figure it out or push it to a shootout.

One advantage Nashville had over Vancouver last night was its overall game. It wasn’t hard to see that the Predators were the stronger team throughout regulation, but when it comes to overtime, that doesn’t really matter. However, Nashville did take that momentum into overtime, with it looking like the Predators would win it early with a goal from Roman Josi. However – yet again – Nashville’s goal was waved off, this time due to goaltender interference by Viktor Arvidsson.

When it seemed like all hope was lost, Roman Josi and Calle Jarnkrok sent the crowd into a victorious roar. Rushing down the ice, Roman Josi made the methodical pass to Jarnkrok who “put the biscuit in the basket”.

Glory. Pure glory. Of course, now Nashville will have to beat Vegas off with a stick (no Swedes in the expansion draft). With this amazing GWG and OT goal, Jarnkrok knocked off a few franchise records, too:

But let us not forget the guy who should’ve gotten a shutout last night: The Eraser himself. Rinne stopped 29 of 30 shots-on-goal, including some pretty close calls from the Sedin twins:

Last night’s performance was a step in the right direction for Nashville in order to keep the playoff hopes alive. However, was this an example of what’s to come or was it just another bout of inconsistency? You can find out tomorrow as the Predators welcome in the 22-17-5 Boston Bruins. A win against Boston could finally push Nashville down the path they’ve been struggled with all season.

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Preds Sweep Western Road Trip with 2-1 Win over Flames

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Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

No one can argue that Nashville looked like a completely different team this time around when it came to a road trip; especially compared to the previous one. Perhaps it was a change in the lineups, a stern lecture from the coaching staff, or a combination of a multitude of factors. Whatever it was, something connected within the team out in Western Canada and the Predators now have a record to prove it. After losing 4-1 to the Chicago Blackhawks last Tuesday, the Predators hit the skies for Manitoba to take on divisional opponent the Winnipeg Jets. In their first meeting with the Jets back on November 14th in Nashville, the Predators dominated the former Atlanta Thrashers 7-0. After that? The Jets returned to Nashville on January 5th, crushing the home team 4-1. And after that? The Predators nabbed their only point in their previous road trip, losing to Winnipeg 5-4 in OT. Despite a blaring concern in the goaltending department, the Predators pulled themselves together and started to dig – as a team – out of the hole they currently find themselves in, defeating the Winnipeg Jets 4-1.

Next on the schedule was Taylor Hall and his Edmonton Oilers. Nashville and Edmonton have only met once this season, which was back on October 10th in Nashville when the Predators defeated the Oilers 2-0. For some reason, the Oilers have always been a team that, despite their not-so-great record over the years (they currently sit in last in the Western Conference), a team that the Predators have struggled to beat. That wasn’t the case on October 10th nor was it the case Saturday when Nashville claimed victory in Edmonton, winning 4-1.

The Vancouver Canucks were Nashville’s next opponent on the schedule, another team that has held Nashville back many times before. Strangely enough, this was Nashville and Vancouver’s first meeting of the season. Though Nashville is ahead of Vancouver in the standings, that means nothing to the Sedin twins. Thanks to a first minute of the game goal by Craig Smith, the Predators held onto that momentum, even after the Canucks tied it shortly thereafter. It would be James Neal who sent the Predators up 2-1 early in the third period that would seal the game in favor of Nashville.

And lastly, we come to last night’s game against the Calgary Flames. In their first meeting of the season, back on December 15th, the Flames barely slipped by with the 2-1 OT victory. Nashville, high from winning their past three games, were no doubt itching to claim victory. Pekka Rinne was given the start in the previous three games, but last night was Carter Hutton’s time. And boy, did he shine. It is no secret that Predators fans are a bit hard on their team’s goaltenders. Despite a terrible game from the rest of the team, if a loss happens, somehow, someway, the blame falls to the goaltender. Sometimes though, it is an issue with goaltending. There’s no denying that Rinne has been in a rut lately and Carter Hutton, who is usually the subject of ridicule, has been playing rather well. However, this road trip undeniably showed the strength of both goaltenders and boy, was it something to behold.

Just six minutes into the first period, Mike Ribeiro notched his sixth goal of the season with assistance from Craig Smith (6) and Mattias Ekholm (16). Surprising that Ribeiro would score, as he tends to drop pass more than anyone in the league it feels like, but Nashville would hang onto that 1-0 lead through the remainder of the first period. Calgary would get the upper-hand three times alone in the first period due to penalties on the Predators, but Carter Hutton and the defense held their own to remain in the lead.

In the second period, however, Calgary would be at the disadvantage the most, taking four penalties throughout its course. Perhaps Calgary was called for so many penalties because of… this:

Dennis Wideman, apparently a little ticked that the officials missed the hit Miikka Salomaki jarred him with, cross-checks a linesman in retaliation. The more you watch it, the less case Wideman has to say it was “an accident”. There’s a good chance he’ll face a ten-game suspension at minimum. It’ll be interesting to see what the League does… or does. Wideman was not penalized during this game for this hit, by the way.

But, thanks to so many penalties, Shea Weber was able to launch one of his signature slapshots Karri Ramo to give Nashville the 2-0 lead on the power play. Weber’s 12th goal of the season, he was assisted by Roman Josi (25) and Ryan Johansen (27).

The Predators would continue to hold onto that 2-0 lead until about five minutes left of the third period when Flames captain Mark Giordano and his team crowded the net, finally catching Hutton off guard. Similar to Tuesday night’s showdown in Vancouver, Nashville would take a last minute penalty to give Calgary at 6-to-4 man advantage. The defense did what it does best and Hutton kept his cool, holding back the Calgary Flames to seal the 2-1 victory and to sweep the Western Canada road trip 4-0-0.

The Predators and the rest of the NHL have descended upon Nashville for this weekend’s All-Star festivities and holy crap am I excited. As are you, I bet. It was just recently announced – as I was writing this – that James Neal will now replace the sick Jonathan Toews in the All-Star lineup. Yay! We have four All-Stars now! Another injury to note, Alexander Ovechkin, will not make the trip here either and has been replaced with Evgeny Kuznetsov who also plays for the Capitals.

Four victories in a row. It’s a nice feeling, isn’t it? Very reminiscent of last season, yes? Now the question is, will Nashville lose its strength and momentum with this All-Star Break? Honestly, it’s not that big of a break. They are technically missing one day in which their could be a game (normally); they’ll be back at it against the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday. I guess we’ll just have to see. But for now, we’ve got some sure fire goaltenders and a spot in the wildcard for the playoffs.

 

Preds trample Canucks 5-1; Rinne Injured in Process

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Source: Yahoo! Sports

The Predators improved their record to 29-9-4 after trampling the Vancouver Canucks 5-1 last night, but that wasn’t before losing goaltender Pekka Rinne a few minutes into the third period. Chris Higgins slid into Rinne while storming the crease and both collided into the boards. Higgins got up unscathed; Peks, on the other hand, was a little more hesitant. After reluctantly leaving the ice, it was announced that Rinne had suffered a lower-body injury and would not return for the remainder of the game. Carter Hutton, who had been sitting stone-cold for a good two hours, was prepared to be thrown to the metaphorical wolves.

SCRATCHES: Viktor Stalberg and Mark Arcobello

First Period:

  • Craig Smith got the ball rolling at 4:07 with a powerplay goal, which – notably – Nashville has gotten a better hand at, to say the least. Colin Wilson (15) and Mike Ribeiro snag the assists on Smith’s 13th goal of the season.
  • After notching an assist, Colin Wilson would collect his 13th goal of the season at 6:22 to put Nashville up 2-0 early. Mike Fisher (8) and James Neal (11) would assist in Wilson’s goal.
  • SOG – NSH: 12, SOG – VAN: 9

Second Period:

  • Vancouver came out in the second with a fire lit under their pants, giving Nashville the runaround for a majority of the period. Alexander Edler would put the Canucks on the board at 2:47 for his fifth goal of the season.
  • SOG – NSH: 9, SOG – VAN: 11

Third Period:

  • And we have reached the point in the post where we return to the first paragraph: Vancouver’s Higgins slides into Rinne, causing both to crash into the boards behind the net.
    MeekFatherlyFlickertailsquirrelAs you can see, it really wasn’t that bad of a collision and Anton Volchenkov also had a play in Rinne hitting into the boards (but we like to blame the Canucks for any and everything). As previously mentioned, Rinne was hesitant to leave the game and left on his own power, leading me to believe that Rinne being pulled from the remainder of the game was more of a precautionary tool than anything. Let me finish the recap and we’ll return to this subject.
  • Carter Hutton wiped off his cap, slapped on his pads, and hit the ice, his first appearance on home ice this entire season (his previous five appearances were on the road).
  • The Canucks pressured Hutton and the net well after he entered the game, but a noticeable fire was lit under the Predators.
  • Filip Forsberg put the Predators up 3-1 at 13:32 for his 15th goal of the season. Mike Ribeiro (29) and Victor Bartley (6) notched the assists.
  • Mike Fisher would take the Preds up 4-1 at 15:31 for his 8th goal of the season. James Neal (12) and Colin Wilson (16) would tally an assist from Fisher’s goal.
  • And, what was originally called as Craig Smith’s goal, Colin Wilson collected his second goal of the night (14th overall) on the powerplay at 17:39, taking the wheels right out from under the Canucks.
  • SOG – NSH: 9, SOG – VAN: 11

Noteworthy Notes:

  • Carter Hutton, though he came in for Rinne in the third, does not actually collect the win; Pekka still does. This is due in part to the fact Hutton did not allow a goal, but Rinne did during his time in net. Had Hutton allowed a goal and Nashville still won, he would’ve collected the win.
  • Hutton did, however, stop the ten shots on goal that came his way, and many were pretty nail-biting.
  • Mike Ribeiro continues to be a proving asset to the Predators as he has now tallied 20 points in his last 20 games.
  • This is the third time in Colin Wilson’s career that he has tallied four points within a game. The kid’s on fire.
  • Back to Pekka: Later on after the game, it was announced that Rinne was day-to-day with his lower-body injury and that he would be re-evaluated on Thursday. Again, I believe that he being pulled from the game last night was purely precautionary and a “rather be safe than sorry” scenario; boy, do I hope I am right. Because he was able to get up on his own, stretch, and debated on whether he’d go back to the net or not is my reasoning behind believing this may just be a safety measure. Again, I really, really hope I am right. As great as Nashville has been, Pekka Rinne is a huge factor in that success and it would be hard to seal those gritty wins without him.

The Predators take two days off – plenty of time to work some kinks out – and then welcome in Barry Trotz (and Joel Ward, Mike Latta, and Jack Hillen) to Nashville on Friday. It is also Mike Fisher bobblehead night, though I think the game may already be sold out. Stub Hub and NHL Ticket Exchange have tickets available, but – in personal experience – my tickets sold in less than fifteen minutes yesterday. Needless to say, if you want to go, you better get on it.

As for Pekka Rinne, I will keep you updated as news becomes available regarding his condition. Cross your fingers, say your prayers, do whatever your little superstitious heart desires, Preds fans.

Weekend Review: Lose Some, Win Some in Canada

Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

There’s always one team that gives Nashville trouble and we aren’t talking about Chicago or St. Louis; it is always that underdog team that your mind automatically – when going through the schedule – chalks up as a win. This year’s team that keeps knocking Nashville down a peg or two looks to be the Calgary Flames. Now, we aren’t saying Calgary is a terrible team by any means, but they aren’t a team we as fans go into thinking Nashville is going to have some trouble with… until this season. The season is still young, but losing twice to Calgary thus far (with only two meetings) and the fact that the Predators simply struggle against them could spell trouble down the road within the Western Conference. However, this weekend wasn’t a complete loss and happily, that win came in Canucklehead territory. Here are the highlights from this past weekend’s romp through Western Canada:

Friday, October 31st – Nashville @ Calgary:

First Period:
– The first period proved goal-less, with both Calgary and Nashville taking a good amount of shots (Calgary 10, Nashville 8).

Second Period:
– Calgary jumped on the board first with a PPG from Sean Monahan at 4:23 after Colin Wilson was charged with goaltender interference.
– Craig Smith would tie it at one with his fourth goal of the season at 5:30 with assistance from Ryan Ellis (5) and Mattias Ekholm (2).
craig smith– At 11:09, Nashville would gain the lead with a goal from James Neal, his sixth of the season. Mike Ribeiro (5) picked up the lone assist.
james nealThird Period:
– At 2:36, Jiri Hudler would tie the game in favor of Calgary for his third goal of the season.
– Calgary would collect a second PPG during the game with a goal from TJ Brodie at 4:23 pushing the Flames up 3-2.
– Not two minutes later at 6:37 Calgary would jump to 4-2 over Nashville with a clean goal from Johnny Gaudreau (2).
– Nashville would come back within one at 10:47 with a PPG from James Neal (7) with some assistance from Matt Cullen (2) and Filip Forsberg (7).
– Unfortunately, Calgary managed to keep Nashville at bay in time for regulation to run out, sealing the win in their favor 4-3 in the Saddledome.

Sunday, November 2nd – Nashville @ Vancouver:

First Period:
– The first period started off with a goal in favor of Vancouver, as Alexander Edler nabbed his second goal of the season on a PPG.

Second Period:
– Nashville would capitalize on the powerplay at 1:38 into the second with a goal from Filip Forsberg (2), though it was clear that former Predator, Dan Hamhuis knocked the puck in. James Neal (1) and Matt Cullen (3) would pick up the assists.
FORSBERG CANUCKSThird Period:
– Forsberg would sink one without the help of Hamhuis at 6:42 for his third goal of the season, with assistance from James Neal (2) and Mike Ribeiro (6).
FORSBERG CANUCKS 2– At 18:27, Colin Wilson would collect his first goal of the season and the GWG. Filip Forsberg (8) and Mattias Ekholm (3) picked up the assists.
COLIN– It is important to note that Vancouver was playing back-to-back games, but a regulation win is a regulation win.

Nashville is almost done with its trip around the Western Conference, with the next stop in Winnipeg to visit the Jets on Tuesday night.