Smith with Wild GWG in OT; Preds edge Jet 3-2

Image Courtesy: Getty Images

Didn’t the Predators just play the Jets?
Oh yes, they did; and they won in Winnipeg 3-1. So, would the boys be able to capitalize over the former Atlanta Thrashers once again? Especially after the punishing loss in Minnesota on Tuesday? The home crowd always builds some much needed confidence, so here are the highlights from last night’s overtime game:

BEFORE THE GAME:

  • Late Wednesday afternoon, word started floating around that Magnus Hellberg, the 38th overall draftee (first goalie) in the 2011 NHL Draft and the current goalie for the Milwaukee Admirals, would be called up for the Thursday night game.
  • Carter Hutton took to practice on Tuesday, but Pekka Rinne was nowhere in sight, which got the ball rolling on speculations as to what was wrong with the Finnish Phenom.
  • Word was made official yesterday during a press conference with the media regarding Pekka’s condition. Feeling weak and with a high temperature, Rinne bowed out of practice and it was revealed that he has a spontaneous bacterial infection in his surgically repaired hip.

Yikes. For any of us that have experience with hip surgeries (no, not me personally), you know that those kind of infections can be serious. Luckily for Peks, it was caught quickly and the medically staff he has access to will not allow the infection to spread by any means. So, in a nutshell, Pekka is out for a minimum of four weeks and it is up to the level-headed Carter Hutton to step up to the starting goalie plate.

  • Mike Fisher skated in practice yesterday, along with concussed Roman Josi. Though Roman is still not 100%, Fisher didn’t hesitate to jump back into the game last night. After his wife, Carrie Underwood accidentally revealed that his lower-body injury was indeed a foot fracture, we assume Mike decided it was time to shake it off and hit the ice. You can’t hate on Carrie for the accidentally slip; it happens sometimes in passing and, unfortunately, this one happened on Twitter were scoop-hungry media ate it right up.

First Period:

  • Shea Weber would get the ball rolling in favor of Nashville at 15:53 with a powerplay slapshot that Ondrej Pavelec just couldn’t wrap his mitts around. David Legwand (5th assist) and Filip Forsberg (3rd assist) picked up the assists in Weber’s third goal of the season.
  • Nashville would end the first period outshooting the Jets just 10 to 9, but Carter Hutton was well-prepared to prove he could backup Pekka Rinne.

Second Period:

  • Winnipeg would finally slip one around Hutton with a wrap-around from Anthony Peluso for his first goal of the season. The second period would end with both teams tied at 1.
  • Winnipeg attacked the puck during this period, outshooting Nashville 14 to 9. It was not surprising that at least one shot would inch past Hutton, but it was actually a sneaky one that did it.

Third Period:

  • Patric Horqnvist would hit a snap shot to put Nashville up again, this time 2-1 at 6:04 for his fourth goal of the season. Mike Fisher (4th assist) and Seth Jones (3rd assist) would nab the assists.
  • Blake Wheeler wouldn’t give up so easily, sending a wrister past Hutton at 16:59 to tie the game again.

Despite extreme effort, both teams were unable to end the regulation period with a game-winner, sending the game into OT.

Overtime:

  • Only two shots between each team was taken during overtime, and it was Craig Smith would was able to capitalize on his shot.
  • With only 17 seconds left in overtime, Craig Smith, who has been stellar thus far this season, sent a slapshot past Pavelec with the help of David Legwand (6th assist) to win the game. Here’s the video:

As we mentioned, Craig Smith has been a quiet stud thus far this season, the kind of stud we have expected from him for a while. After his performance for Team USA during the IIHF series, we were starting to wonder when that grace would hit the NHL ice. So far, with 11 GPs, Smith is currently sitting in 14th amongst the league. We have this feeling his league rank will be getting closer to the Top 10 very soon.

The Predators have one last home game before going on a seven-game road trip. The Preds will not return to Nashville until Saturday, November 16th when they welcome in the 2013 Stanley Cup Champions, the Chicago Blackhawks.

Added Bonus:
Rich+Clune+Los+Angeles+Kings+v+Colorado+Avalanche+OfXJmj8sOf9lRich Clune vs. Matt Hendricks – September 23, 2009
Think they remember this now that they’re teammates?

Hutton leads Predators over Jets 3-1

Image Courtesy: Getty Images

The Predators have had some great outcomes thus far this season, but tonight it was finally time to let the Finnish phenom take a break and let the backup try his hand at a full NHL game. Insert: Carter Hutton, the confident backup for Pekka Rinne who has only had one shot at protecting an NHL basket. When was that? First game of the season when Peks was pulled in the first period against the St. Louis Blues. But hey, Pekka’s looking much better now (scared me there for a moment).

So, how did Hutton fair against Matt Halischuk and the Winnipeg Jets? Here are the highlights:

First Period:

  • No goals were tallied during the first, but Matt Cullen did collect the only penalty between both teams in the first at 15:58 with a hooking call on Matt Halischuk. Nashville was able to keep Winnipeg at bay, despite the Jets outshooting the Predators 15 to 12.

Second Period:

  • Ten seconds in, Matt Hendricks would head to the box for a tripping call, giving the Jets an early advantage in the opening of the second period.
  • Eric Nystrom didn’t mind being down a man, sending a wrister past Ondrej Pavelec for a shorthanded goal just twenty seconds in.
  • Patric Hornqvist would collect this third goal of the season at 12:07 with an unassisted snapshot.
  • Matt Cullen would pick up his second goal of the season at 14:17 with assists from Colin Wilson 4th assist) and Craig Smith (5th assist).
  • Winnipeg would lead Nashville in shots on goal with eleven to seven at the end of the second.

Third Period:

  • Evander Kane would collect his fifth goal of the season with a tip-in past Hutton, though it was simply a case of “lost puck”.
  • Carter Hutton and the Preds would hold off the Jets 3-1, despite being outshot in total 26 to 39.
  • Hutton would inevitably block 38 of those 39 shots; pretty good for his first full NHL game, right?

The NHL take notice of Hutton’s success as proven with this tweet:

Well, we had our stats wrong shots wise, but oh well.

Nashville has just one more game on the road before they head back home Thursday and, who’s that team? The Minnesota Wild on Tuesday.

Sweet Revenge: Predators Pummel Blues 6-1

Marty Erat does like to be injured.

To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure exactly where to begin. The team that hit the ice wearing Nashville sweaters was NOT the same club that has worn the jerseys previously. The Predators stayed consistent in both defense and offense, and Pekka Rinne was back in his Finnish phenom pants. Though the Predators only lead in shots over the Blues in the first period (9 to 4), the fact Nashville took a chance on shots for once proved successful, thus putting the breaks on the Blues 6-1. Again, I’m not sure even where to begin. So many plays, passes, shots, etc. were in Nashville’s favor, I just hope they can hang on to this voodoo that they’ve come across. For a team that has only two regulation wins, ten points are mind-blowing. Here are the highlights from tonight’s blowout over the Blues:

KEY POINTS:

  • Martin Erat powered back from his lower-body injury, hitting the ice against the Blues. Jonathon Blum, who proved his worth on NHL ice last Saturday against San Jose, got the nod to suit up once again. Brian McGrattan and Matt Halischuk settled with scratches.
  • Blues’ Center Andy McDonald took an early tripping penalty in the first, giving Nashville a chance at a powerplay goal. Ryan “The Rocket Ship” Ellis took a wrister from the corner, sneaking it past Brian Elliot for his second goal of the season (2:10). Martin Erat picked up his third assist and Colin Wilson picked up his second.
  • Nashville camp out in the Blues’ zone, with newcomer Rich Clune slipping a tip-in to sink his first NHL goal at 15:53. Colin Wilson would pick up his second assist of the night (third altogether) and Paul Gaustad would pick up his first assist.
  • Nick Spaling would sink his teeth into a wrist shot, earning his second goal of the season at 19:13, putting the Predators up 3-0 at the end of the first. Brandon Yip would pick up his second assist and Roman Josi would gain his first assist of the season.
  • Nashville would extend the momentum into the second period, with Kevin Klein pulling a Shea Weber and sending a killer slapshot past Elliot, thus pulling him from the game completely. Klein gained his first goal of the season at 9:09, with assists from Jonathon Blum (1) and Martin Erat (4).
  • Gabriel Bourque decided it was his time for a goal, tipping it in past rookie goalie Jake Allen. Not a good start to his NHL debut, no? Bourque’s goal was assisted by Colin Wilson, his third of the night and fourth overall.
  • A holding call on Roman Josi would prove why the Blues are second in the league in powerplay goals. Alex Pietrangelo would nab his second goal of the second with a backhander past Pekka Rinne. Pietrangelo’s goal would shift the momentum in favor of the Blues, pushing the Predators to either buck up or fall back.

Though the Blues took the reins in the third period, Nashville remained consistent, despite being out-shot 14 to 7. Pekka Rinne can be praised for his continuous saves, keeping the Blues at bay. A wrist shot at 16:34 from Martin Erat was the nail in the coffin for the Blues, sending Nashville up 6-1. Erat’s third goal of the season was assisted by Ryan Ellis (2) and Jonathon Blum (2).

Thirty-two shots on goal and only one snuck by. That’s the Pekka we know. Looks like the Finnish phenom is getting back into a rhythm, one I hope I didn’t just jinx. Even rookie sensation Vladimir Tarasenko couldn’t work his magic around Peks.

Penalties are still an issue with the Predators, with Nashville seeing six and the Blues only taking three. For a team that is second in the league for powerplay goals, the Blues weren’t exactly the team to give powerplay chances to. However, Pekka and the Predators held strong, only allowing one PP goal. Here are the six box sitters:

  1. David Legwand – 12:41, 1st Period – Diving or “embellishing”
  2. Roman Josi – 11:53, 2nd Period – Holding
  3. Sergei Kostitsyn – 16:07, 2nd Period – Hooking
  4. Shea Weber – 19:38, 2nd Period – Tripping
  5. Roman Josi – 1:15, 3rd Period – Cross-Checking
  6. Nick Spaling – 17:07, 3rd Period – Slashing

 

What a step in the right direction for Nashville. As I mentioned in previous posts, though shootout points are helpful, points in regulation are the key to the Stanley Cup. Okay, not the key, but one of many that the Predators have to nail down to compete throughout the season.

But there is certainly no way I can criticize tonight’s game. Absolutely outstanding defense, offense, and overall teamwork shown by the Predators tonight. It’s hard to believe that, just five games ago, Nashville fell 3-0 to this exact same team. This is the Predators team we expect to see. This is the Predators that will make it far in the playoffs.

Don’t forget! Tomorrow night at Dave and Buster’s at Opry Mills: The debut of The Kevin Klein Show at 6pm! Get there early for prime seating, as you don’t want to miss Kleiner or his special guest, Pekka Rinne!

Until then,
GO PREDS

Preds fall to Ducks 3-2 in 3rd Shootout of Season

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Gill putting the Ducks in their place.

Shootout. The third in just five games. The Predators are 0-3 on the shootout thus far.
After the Ducks’ embarrassing 5-0 shutout against the Canucks the night before, it is not surprising the Ducks weren’t forgetting what time the game started tonight. However, unlike Thursday in St. Louis, Nashville came out strong, though both sides stayed evenly matched when it came to shots on goal throughout the game. The Predators played much better and much more level-headed compared to Thursday, but the Ducks just weren’t going to suffer two nasty losses in a row. Both teams were licking the wounds of a shutout, but only one could savor sweet victory. Here are the highlights from tonight’s game in the Golden State:

KEY POINTS:

  • Paul Gaustad returned to the lineup after missing the last two games. Jonathon Blum and Brian McGrattan remained on the scratched list, along with Matt Halischuk.
  • Brandon Yip struck gold first with a backhanded goal past Viktor Fasth, who made his NHL debut during tonight’s game. Yip’s first goal of the season was unassisted.
  • The Predators would hold down the fort throughout the remainder of the first and for all of the second, except for Bobby Ryan notching his first goal of the season with just over 30 seconds left in the second to tie the game.
  • David Legwand would seal his second goal of the season at 10:09 in the third with a backhander, assisted by Kevin Klein (second assist) and Gabriel Bourque (first assist).
  • Daniel Winnik would respond moments later with his fifth goal of the season, a tip-in past Pekka to tie the game once again.

Overtime proved to be a heated match, but neither side could find the sweet spot to end the game, thus throwing the game into a shootout, the Predators’ apparent mortal enemy.

SHOOTOUT SUMMARY:

NASHVILLE – Martin Erat – SAVE
ANAHEIM – Ryan Getzlaf – SAVE
NASHVILLE – Mike Fisher – SAVE
ANAHEIM – Corey Perry – GOAL
NASHVILLE – David Legwand – SAVE

Penalties, yet again, plagued the Predators tonight. With Nashville’s four and Anaheim’s two, the Predators gave the Ducks more chances to advance. Luckily, the Ducks just couldn’t nail that powerplay goal. Here are the four guys who like the box a little too much:

1. Nick Spaling – 6:28 1st Period – Slashing
2. Craig Smith – 16:56 1st Period – Throwing Stick*
3. Brandon Yip – 9:16 2nd Period – Boarding
4. Hal Gill – 5:17 3rd Period – Tripping

*Rule 10.3 – “A player will be penalized if he throws, tosses, slides or shoots a stick to a teammate on the ice.” Yea, it’s real.

  • Patric Hörnqvist suffered a lower-body injury tonight during the third period, first from taking a Shea Weber slapshot to the leg and another hit against the boards from Ryan Getzlaf. Per Coach Trotz, Patric will be out indefinitely and most likely will be on a plane back to Nashville to be examined by the team doctors. Although a tremendous loss for a struggling team, Patric’s healing time may lead to more opportunities for players such as Colin Wilson.
  • Craig Smith looks like he has made his way into Trotz’s infamous “dog house”, with a very noticeable lack of ice time with one shift in the second period. There will be no sending him to Milwaukee, however, as that would expose him to waivers. After his senseless penalty, Smith may not see the ice for a while. Colin Wilson’s heart may be smiling, as he is most notable for being Trotz’s go-to player to punish.

Rough beginning to the season for the Preds, but don’t jump ship just yet, fellow Preds fans. Though Nashville does not have the luxury of an entire season to gain momentum, they still have time, if they push themselves to victory. It can be done, but they cannot take their time. Do not turn on Peks, either. Though he hasn’t quite reached his typical Finnish phenom status, he isn’t the problem. Yes, shootouts are not his strong suite, but he is not the only factor that leads to a shootout scenario.

The Predators wander out to Phoenix to take on the Coyotes on their turf, another game that could prove rough for the Predators. Then again, they may pull some confidence from midair and nab a much-needed win. Preds and Coyotes match up Monday, January 28 at 8 PM.

Keep Calm and Go Preds.