Preds tackle Avs 5-2

Source: John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images

Source: John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images

After a not-so stellar performance on the road, the Predators headed back home to welcome in the divisional rival Colorado Avalanche, who might be sitting at the bottom of the Central Division, but certainly not out. Last Friday night, the Avalanche whipped fellow Central Division mate, the Chicago Blackhawks, 4-1 and then went on to defeat the 7th team in the League (the Tampa Bay Lightning) 5-4. Again, Colorado might be down, but they aren’t out. However, Nashville is the Top Dog in the League for a reason and tonight was a night to shush the naysayers.

SCRATCHES: Taylor Beck

FIRST PERIOD:

  • Nathan MacKinnon (13) got the puck moving at 3:57, a lucky break as the puck deflected off of Roman Josi’s skate into the net. Ryan O’Reilly (25) and Brad Stuart (8) notched the assists.
  • Not fifteen seconds later, Mister “I was healthy scratched on Sunday” Calle Jarnkrok answered the call to action and netted one alone for his sixth of the season.
  • Around the 13-minute mark of the game, Avalanche Captain, Gabriel Landeskog took aim at Roman Josi along the boards.
  • As you can see, Landeskog absolutely levels Josi with the hit, prompting both Paul Gaustad and Shea Weber to come to the rescue. Though I wouldn’t want to go up against Gaustad or Weber, I think if I had to choose, I’d go with duking it out with Gaustad. Unfortunately for Landeskog, #AngryShea got to him before Gaustad did.
  • Both players would be given majors (5 minutes) for fighting, but somehow, Weber also received a 10-minute misconduct AND an instigator penalty, totaling his time in the box at 17 minutes.
  • Nashville would finish out the remainder of the first period without their Captain and notch nine SOG to Colorado’s three.

SECOND PERIOD:

  • Craig Smith would open the second period with his 19th goal of the season, giving Nashville the 2-1 lead at 4:32. Mike Fisher (17) collected the lone assist.
  • Roman Josi would punch his 11th goal of the season at 11:06 with assistance from Matt Cullen (10).
  • Colorado would only manage five SOG during the second compared to Nashville’s sixteen.

THIRD PERIOD:

  • To remind everyone he’s still here (like we’ve forgotten), Filip Forsberg gave the Predators a 4-1 lead just 52 seconds into the third period for his 21st goal of the season. Mike Ribeiro picked up the assist, his 39th of the season.
  • Patrick Roy, who is known for pulling his goaltenders early in the games, did just that, giving Colorado a two-man advantage (Craig Smith called for hi-sticking & Shea still in the box). Eric Nystrom (7) slapped a wrister down the length of the ice, nailing the empty net for a short-handed goal at 8:28. Roman Josi (33) grabbed the assist.
  • With under two minutes to go, Colorado slipped on passed Pekka Rinne for a powerplay goal by John Mitchell (7), but it was too late for the Avalanche to make a comeback run.

It is pretty evident why Shea Weber risked a lifetime in the penalty box to protect his fellow linesman. First off, he’s the leader and that’s what a great leader does; second, the memory of Steve Downie’s hit on Roman Josi, just two games into last year’s season. That hit was not investigated like it should have been and Josi was concussed for a few months. Though Downie no longer is a member of the Colorado Avalanche, that wound was reopened by Gabriel Landeskog last night.

Now 41-13-7, the Predators now sit six points ahead of the team second in the league, the Montreal Canadiens. The closest divisional rival, the St. Louis Blues, sit nine points back. Chicago? Twelve points back.

The Predators welcome in the Minnesota Wild for a special 7:30PM start time on Thursday night (airing on NBC Sports).

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Ribeiro’s 3rd Period Goal secures Preds Win 3-2

Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

After losing the Western Conference lead to the Anaheim Ducks Thursday night, the Predators needed the boost from regulation win against the New York Rangers to regain some momentum Saturday afternoon. The Rangers, who were 30-15-4 coming into yesterday’s bout, were riding confidently on a three game winning streak & hoping to extend that to four. Without King Henrik in the net, could the Rangers pull off the win? Or would Pekka Rinne’s return hold off the Blueshirts?

SCRATCHES: Olli Jokinen

FIRST PERIOD:

  • The first period saw plenty of pressure from both sides, but neither team could capitalize on their chances. The Rangers out-shot the Predators 10 to 8.
  • By no surprise, the Predators welcomed back former Predator Kevin Klein with a nice tribute video. Klein, who was drafted by Nashville 37th overall in the 2003 draft, spent his entire NHL career with the Predators up until last season when he was traded to the New York Rangers for… sigh… Michael Del Zotto. You can watch the tribute video here.

SECOND PERIOD:

  • The Rangers struck gold first, capitalizing on the powerplay from Rick Nash (33) at 11:49.
  • Roman Josi would respond at 18:39, collecting his 10th goal of the season. Gabriel Bourque (5) and Calle Jarnkrok (9) would pick up the assists.
  • Shea Weber (12) would give Nashville the lead 2-1 at 19:20 with his signature slapshot past Cam Talbot. Roman Josi (27) and Matt Cullen (6) would notch the assists.
  • The Rangers took to out-shooting the Predators during this period as well, this time 12 to 10.

THIRD PERIOD:

  • Ryan McDonagh wasted no time tying the game early into the third; his fourth goal of the season.
  • But it was Mike Ribeiro’s seemingly angry slapshot at 12:46 that sealed the game in favor of Nashville 3-2. Seth Jones (14) and Filip Forsberg (30) tallied the assists on Ribeiro’s 11th goal of the season.
  • The Rangers would – yet again – out-shoot the Predators, this time 10 to 5, but Nashville would come out as the victors.

NOTEWORTHY:

  • With his 11th goal of the season, Mike Ribeiro has now tallied his 700th career point. Ribeiro, who has been pretty consistent this season and lead the team in points for a good while, hasn’t had a point since January 29th against the Avalanche (picked up an assist). Chalk it up as patience towards that 700th point.
  • Colin Wilson sustained an injury during the first period and did not return to the remainder of the match. It was later released that he is day-to-day with an upper-body injury.
  • Filip Forsberg continues to slap the NHL with his Calder Memorial Trophy contingency as he continues to lead the Predators in points and in every category that a rookie can (minus goaltending). Forty-seven points in 52 games? Yea, you can’t ignore that.

As usual, the Predators have no time to rest. Today, the team is in Sunrise, Florida to take on the 23-17-10 Panthers who are currently sitting pretty in 5th in the Atlantic Division. With Colin Wilson out, there’s a good chance Olli Jokinen will be off the scratched list and, due to being a back-to-back, Carter Hutton will start in net.

Predators rally past Capitals 4-3

Source: Kristen Jerkins Photography

Source: Kristen Jerkins Photography

Phew! You want to talk about a dirty, gritty win for the Predators? Well, last night was certainly an example of a robbery in progress and there was nothing Barry Trotz and the Capitals could do but watch. Granted, the Predators started the game out on the right foot, but leave it to Alexander Ovechkin to come roaring in to help the Capitals take and hold the lead late into the third period. Ah, but those pesky Preds had other ideas up their sleeves.

SCRATCHES: Viktor Stalberg (who has a birthday today) and Pekka Rinne

FIRST PERIOD:

  • Braden Holtby didn’t waste a moment showing off how on fire he has been as of late, keeping the first period rather uneventful until at 16:16 when Seth Jones’ (3) wrister sent the young goaltender falling backwards and the puck floating in the net. Calle Jarnkrok (7) collected the lone assist on Jones’ game-starter.
  • But before Jones got the ball rolling, the much anticipated video tribute to former head coach Barry Trotz was aired to a standing ovation. In fact, I couldn’t even hear what the video was saying because the cheers were so deafening. You can view the tribute here.
  • SOG: NSH – 10, SOG: WSH – 8 at the end of the first period.

SECOND PERIOD:

  • James Neal collected his 14th of the season at 1:50 into the second period, giving Nashville an early 2-0 lead with a beautiful deflection from Mike Fisher, leaving the net wide open. Mike Fisher (9) and Victor Bartley (7) pick up the assists.
  • But it was bound to happen: Ovi woke up. Ovechkin notched his 23rd goal of the season after sinking his signature in the top left corner of the net; Carter Hutton had no chance.
  • Capitalizing on a powerplay chance, Ovechkin (24) would sink another past Hutton to tie the game, sending the Predators defense into an obvious panic.
  • SOG: NSH – 8, SOG: WSH – 14 at the end of the second.

THIRD PERIOD:

  • Marcus Johansson would give Washington a lead of 3-2 at 2:38 into the third period on a powerplay opportunity.
  • But thanks to a powerplay slapshot from Mattias Ekholm (4) at 15:31, the Predators found a much needed spark to push through the remainder of the period.
  • At 18:20, James Neal (15) would sink one of the most beautiful goals I’ve ever seen, giving the Predators a 4-3 lead late in the third.

NOTEWORTHY NOTES:

  • Carter Hutton’s record now improves to 1-3-2 as he collects his first win of the season. A much deserved stat as well, since some folks seem to think Carter Hutton is a horrible, no good goaltender.
  • Hand it to Seth Jones for clocking 23:01 minutes of ice time and collecting his third goal and tenth assist of the season.
  • James Neal is now tied with Filip Forsberg for goal leader amongst the Predators at 15.
  • Though the Islanders notched 30 wins before the Predators last night (due to being in the Eastern Time Zone), Nashville is still on a franchise march. The Predators are now 30-9-4 on the season in mid-January, a stat that took the team all the way until March last season to reach.

I’ll leave you with the post game presser of Barry Trotz’s take on his tribute video and a reminder that the Predators are at it again tonight against the Detroit Red Wings. The Red Wings are also coming in after playing last night, defeating the St. Louis Blues 3-2 in overtime. There are a lot of doubters amongst the league on if Nashville’s leadership is just a fluke, but that’s what tends to push the human spirit to persevere.

Kevin Fiala assigned to Milwaukee Admirals

Source: imgkid.com

Source: imgkid.com

In a rather surprising move late this afternoon, the Predators announced that 2014 First Round Draft Pick, Kevin Fiala would be assigned to Nashville’s farm team, the Milwaukee Admirals. This news comes on the heels of Nashville announcing that former 2012 draft pick, Mikko Vainonen had been reassigned to SaiPa of SM-Liiga (of Finland). Vainonen has been spending most of his time on the ECHL level with the Cincinnati Cyclones. Check his story here, provided by Admirals Roundtable. Whether those two moves have anything to do with one another, I am not the judge of that, but it is still very interesting, to say the least. One may throw out the fact that tomorrow is the international transfer deadline; yea, that could very well be it.

Here’s an excerpt from the official press release from the Predators about Mr. Fiala:

Fiala, 18 (7/22/96), posted 14 points (5g-9a) in 20 games for HV-71 this season, tied for the fourth-most goals and assists, and sixth-most points among SHL junior players. The 5-10, 180-pound winger also represented Switzerland at the 2015 World Junior Championship, being named one of the nation’s three best players for the tournament while tying for fifth among all skaters in goals (4g-1a-5pts, 6gp).

In 2013-14, Fiala was a finalist for the 2014 Swedish Hockey League Rookie of the Year Award after tying for the lead in points among all under-18 SHL players with 11 (3g-8a) in 17 games for HV71. The 13th overall selection in the 2014 Draft represented his homeland at the World Junior Championship, Under-18 World Championship and World Championship in 2014, becoming just the third player ever to participate in all three tournaments in the same year (Andrei Kostitsyn and Vadim Karagan, Belarus in 2003).

The young left-winger just about made the team during training camp, so it would not be surprising to see him lace up for the Predators sometime this season.

Preds trample Canucks 5-1; Rinne Injured in Process

IMG_3589

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.

Preds tally Win over Wild 3-1

fisher

After capturing the top of the league on Thursday night, the Predators would need to continue with a win in St. Paul to hang onto that title just a little bit longer. The Wild, who have been having some rather interesting issues, are hurting for a win, and what better way to knock the best team in the league for a loop?

SCRATCHES: Mark Arcobello
NOTEWORTHY: Update on injuries, Ryan Ellis will be re-evaluated after the All-Star break (January 24-25), which means he’s out for at least two weeks; he has also been placed on the IR with an lower-body injury. Also, Eric Nystrom’s injury has gone from undisclosed to classified as an upper-body.

First Period:

  • Mike Fisher would get the ball rolling early in the first period with his seventh goal of the season at 4:01. Colin Wilson (14), who has been on fire this season (to say the least), picked up the lone assist.
  • Minnesota’s Charlie Coyle would tie the game at 14:14 for his fourth goal of the season.
  • The Wild would outshoot the Predators 14 to 8, pointing out just how incredible Pekka Rinne really is.

Second Period:

  • Both the Wild and the Predators would take nine shots on goal, but none could make their way past the opposing goaltenders during the second period.
  • Nashville took four penalties during the second period alone, including one from Pekka Rinne (served by Craig Smith). Even more proof on why Pekka Rinne is the best goaltender in this league this season.

Third Period:

  • Calle Jarnkrok would collect his fifth goal of the season at 3:48 after being in the right place at the right time whilst Niklas Backstrom was distracted. Olli Jokinen (3) and Shea Weber (19) tallied the assists.
  • At 8:47, Colin Wilson would notch his 12th of the season with the unassisted game winning goal.
  • Though Wilson sealed the game winner within the first ten minutes of the period, the game certainly wasn’t over. With just a few minutes left in the game, Matt Cooke decided cross-checking Shea Weber in the face was a good idea. It wasn’t.
    B7HPM8eCYAIi_BF

    Source: TheScore.com

    As the wise Antoine Dodson once said:

    antoine_dodson_you_are_so_dumb-14245

Needless to say, Angry Shea reared his ugly head and beat Matt Cooke to a pulp. Here’s the video of said beat-down:

And, if watching his teammate get his butt kicked wasn’t enough, Nate Prosser stepped up to duke it out with Mike Fisher with just a minute and a half left in the game:

And, as you can see from the video, Angry Mike also made an appearance after Prosser took a cheap shot at Taylor Beck.

After kicking the Wild’s keister not only physically but numerically as well, the Predators secured another day as the leaders of the league and improved their record to 28-9-4. The Predators welcome in the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday and then Barry Trotz and the Washington Capitals on Friday night.

NSH claims 1st in League after OT Win over DAL

Source: John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images

Source: John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images

Though it landed in overtime, the Predators captured the all-important two points to claim first in not only the Western Conference, but the entire League. Wowza. Or, as Sean McIndoe so eloquently put it:

Did the Predators ruin a bunch of predictions for the 2014-15 NHL season? Yea, I am going to go ahead and say that’s a big y-e-s to that one. It’s certainly not a bad thing. No one, not even the loyalest of fans, could have imagine that the Nashville Predators would be 27-9-4 at the beginning of January. And no one surely could’ve imagined that would be good enough to take the League. A team from Nashville?

I know, world; it’s hard to believe a bunch of hillbillies could muster the best team in the league. I must ask, though, as to why that always comes up. None of these guys [players], let alone the majority of the staff, administration, organization, what have you, aren’t even from Tennessee! Haters gonna hate. Shake it off.

SCRATCHES: Anton Volchenkov

First Period:

  • Shea Weber set the game in motion at 15:27 with a signature slapshot past Kari Lehtonen for his ninth goal of the season. Mike Ribeiro (27) and Roman Josi (19) collect the assists.
  • Nashville would end the first period leading the Stars 1-0.

Second Period:

  • Jason Spezza would tie the game at 12:51, his seventh goal of the season.
  • In his NHL debut, nonetheless, Miikka Salomaki would claim his first career NHL goal at 16:47, pushing Nashville back into the lead 2-1. Roman Josi (20) and Calle Jarnkrok (6) collected the assists.
  • With just two seconds left in the period, Trevor Daley would sink one past Pekka Rinne to tie the game at two heading into the third.

Third Period:

  • Though it falls in the books that there were no goals tallied in the third period, a different story could be said for Preds fans. In a battle to get the puck to the net, Craig Smith got tied up with Kari Lehtonen, which allowed Filip Forsberg to sweep in for the score. Lindy Ruff and the Dallas bench called foul, claiming Smith was keeping Lehtonen from covering the post. Though originally called a goal, the play was then reversed in a matter of Smith committed “incidental contact” on Lehtonen. Of course, on review, it is clear that Jason Demers is crosschecking Smith into Lehtonen, thus causing the “incidental contact”, but it is all in the books at this point.

Overtime:

  • In a game that should’ve ended in regulation, Shea Weber sealed the victory in favor of Nashville just seventeen seconds into overtime, his second of the night and 10th goal of the season. Mike Fisher (7) and Colin Wilson (13) picked up the assists on Weber’s game winning goal.

Game. Set. Match. With the anticipated two points, the Predators bumped the Anaheim Ducks from the top of the Western Conference and League standings. However, Nashville isn’t out of the clear; both they and Anaheim share 58 points, but because the Ducks have played two more games, the Predators notch the top spot. With that, in order to push further ahead, Nashville will need to beat Minnesota tomorrow in regulation (or at least get one point) and hope that Anaheim gets steamrolled by the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday.

So Preds fans, bask in the glory that is top of the Central Division, Western Conference, and League.
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Gritty Third Period leads to NSH Victory over CAR

Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America

A gritty third period indeed. After a lackluster performance within the first and second periods, the outcome of the game in favor of Nashville looked pretty bleak going into the third period. Carolina, who were 12-24-4, were already up by one on Nashville and, even though that should be nothing for a team that is 25-9-4 should be concerned with, the Predators have a lengthy record of flunking against the Hurricanes.

SCRATCHES:

  • James Neal Anton Volchenkov

First Period:

  • The Hurricanes jumped on the board with a powerplay goal at 17:25 from Eric Staal, his eleventh of the season for Carolina.
  • Carolina managed to notch twelve shots on net, while Nashville desperately hunted for it, only tallying seven shots on net.

Second Period:

  • The second period brought zero luck to either contender on the side of goals.
  • Nashville came out with a bit more gusto this period, taking twelve shots to the net compared to Carolina’s five.

Third Period:

  • Peter Laviolette must have sacrificed a rookie during the second intermission because the Predators finally hit the ice with some power in the third.
  • Ryan Ellis (5) put the team on the board at 4:43 with a tricky slip behind Cam Ward’s back. Viktor Stalberg picked up his second assist for the season – his first one gained just last Saturday against the Kings.
  • Carolina would regain the lead at 8:14 with a powerplay goal from Justin Faulk, their second of the night.
  • A little over two minutes later, Mike Fisher would tie it once again for his sixth goal of the season. Colin Wilson (12) and Filip Forsberg (24) tally the assists.
  • Noteworthy: With his 24th assist, Filip Forsberg has now surpassed Alexander Radulov’s Franchise Rookie Record of 37 points; Forsberg leads rookies in the league with 38 points, 14 goals, 24 assists, and 23 plus-minus points. If he isn’t a Calder contender, I will have no reason to doubt the NHL just hates Nashville.
    radulov
  • Roman Josi would nail the GWG at 15:17 for his seventh goal of the season, bringing Nashville back from a dismal first and second periods. Viktor Stalberg (3) and Eric Nystrom (4) would nab the assists.

As the saying goes, “They don’t ask ‘how’ you won, but ‘if’ you won. Gritty wins in regulation still give you the two points.” — Someone says that. And, as news on the standings goes, Chicago (54) was blanked by the Colorado Avalanche last night, pushing Nashville (56) up two points. Though the Predators were already at the top of the Central Division, it’s still nice to push forward even farther from the Blackhawks. It is important to note that the Predators are also just two points behind the Anaheim Ducks for first in the Western Conference.

The 18-15-6 Dallas Stars roll into town on Thursday, then Nashville is off to St. Paul to visit Ryan Suter and the 18-15-5 Minnesota Wild.

Preds try to give Fans Heart Attacks; Win in OT 7-6

Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America

Did that title catch your attention? No time to sugarcoat it tonight; oh no. I won’t spoil the fun by telling you what happened here; you need to read the meat and potatoes of the post.

What’s with all the back-to-backs, am I right? After a back-to-back against Chicago Monday and St. Louis Tuesday, the Predators received an extended break for the new year before heading West to take on the LA Kings this afternoon. Of course, tomorrow Nashville hops a block or two tomorrow to take on the Anaheim Ducks. Fun times
(Note: I wrote this paragraph before the meltdown).

SCRATCHES: James Neal (lower-body injury), Victor Bartley, and Miikka Salomaki (sorry, kid).

First Period:

  • The Kings wasted no time lighting the lamp as Matt Greene sent a slapshot past Pekka Rinne just 32 seconds into the game.
  • Mike Fisher quickly tied it up at 4:54 with a wrister past Jonathan Quick; his fifth goal of the season. Roman Josi (18) and Shea Weber (18) tallied the assists.
  • Not even two minutes later, Colin Wilson would collect the deflected goal off of Matt Greene’s stick; his eleventh of the season. Viktor Stalberg collected his first assist of the season on Wilson’s deflection.
  • Noteworthy: With eleven goals, Colin Wilson now has as many goals this season as he did all of last season.
  • Birthday Boy, Ryan Ellis would tally his fourth goal of the season on the powerplay at 9:43 with a speedy slapshot past Quick. Mike Ribeiro (22) and Seth Jones (8) picked up the assists.
  • After Ellis’s powerplay goal, Jonathan Quick was “quickly” pulled and replaced by backup Martin Jones.

Second Period:

  • Replacing Quick didn’t help at the beginning of the second period, as Mattias Ekholm collected his second goal of the season at 2:16. Craig Smith (10) and Ryan Ellis (11) nab the assists on Ekholm’s goal.
  • Nashville would continue pounding the Kings just a minute later, as newcomer Mart Arcobello picked up his first goal as a Predator at 3:57; his eighth of the season. Colin Wilson (11) and Paul Gaustad (8) are awarded the assists.
  • The Kings would not stay down for long, as Alec Martinez flipped a wrister past Rinne to put LA within three.
  • Dwight King would finish up the second period with another Los Angeles goal, a tip-in assisted by Jake Muzzin and Anze Kopitar.

Third Period:

  • Olli Jokinen nailed his third goal of the season at 8:38 with a wrist shot past Jones, giving Nashville a 6-3 lead. Gabriel Bourque – who’s been awfully quiet – picks up his fourth assist along with Paul Gaustad (8).
  • Dwight King picked up his second of the night at 17:59 with some assistance from Jake Muzzin.
  • Alec Martinez managed to bring it within one, his fifth goal of the season.
  • …And then Jeff Carter ties it at six at 19:26…

    All Predators fans can relate.

    OVERTIME:

  • Noteworthy: The Predators were up 6-3 with two minutes left in the game. SIX-TO-THREE. Why are we having flashbacks to Monday against Chicago? WHY?
  • Thankfully, it only took Roman Josi (6) eighteen seconds into overtime to seal the win in favor of Nashville. Filip Forsberg (22) and Mike Ribeiro (23) collect the game-winning assists.
  • Noteworthy: With this overtime assist, Filip Forsberg is now one point away from tying Alexander Radulov’s franchise rookie record.

The Predators nab their first win of 2015 – though they tried to give it to Los Angeles – to give themselves a record of 25-9-3, but – as I write a lot – there’s not time for rest. Nashville has a bout with the leader of the Pacific Division, the Anaheim Ducks tomorrow night at 7PM. The Ducks rest just four points ahead of Nashville in the Western Conference, so it’s easy for me to say that a win in regulation tomorrow night would be splendid indeed. …And less stress on my heart, thanks.

Screen shot 2015-01-03 at 7.07.01 PM

Okay, so heart attack relief comes in the form of the Central Division Standings.

Preds hold lead early, fall to Blackhawks 5-4

Source: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images North America

So I asked the in the previous post (the Philadelphia one) as to who would be in net for Nashville tonight. Who is surprised it was Pekka again? Now, don’t get me wrong, if I had my way, Pekka would be half human/half machine and fully capable of handling a full 82-game season; no offense, Hutton. But alas, he is a mere mortal and needs a rest every now and then. However, there’s a good chance Rinne will not rest for tomorrow’s game either, as St. Louis is nipping at our heels as I type. Call me a worrier, but after losing him last season to that E. Coli hip, I have every reason to be nervous of his health. Though the Predators have gained strength under the leadership of Peter Laviolette, Pekka Rinne is still saving their butts more often than not.

Anywho, let’s discuss Chicago, who sits just two points ahead of Nashville for first in the Central Division. However, to discuss the bigger picture, it seems as if Anaheim is Nashville’s biggest threat thus far (when discussing the Cup); they are currently 24-8-6. So a night in the Windy City then back home to face the Blues? Giddy-up.

First Period:

  • Roman Josi got the party started at 11:50 in the United Center with a snap shot past Corey Crawford for his fifth goal of the season. Paul Gaustad tallies the lone assist.
  • Craig Smith pushed Nashville up 2-0 with a wrister at 17:12, his 11th goal of the season. Colin Wilson (9) and Mike Ribeiro (21) claim the assists.

Second Period:

  • James Neal picked up his 12th goal at 7:28 with a excellent tip-in with assistance from Colin Wilson (10) and Pekka Rinne (1). No, that isn’t a typo – Rinne, in fact, picked up the assist.
  • Brad Richards cut the Predators lead 3-1 at 10:33 with a slap shot past Rinne for his seventh goal of the season.
  • Chicago would then come within one of Nashville at 15:48 with a wrister from Andrew Shaw, his sixth of the season.
  • Just two minutes later, Chicago would tie it with slapshot from Marian Hossa on the power play, his eighth goal of the season.
  • With a power play goal of his own, James Neal gave Nashville the lead once again, his second goal of the night and 13th of the season. Filip Forsberg (21) and Roman Josi (17) collect the assists.

Third Period:

  • Sadly, at 18:47 with the extra attacker, Bryan Bickell sends a wrister past Rinne to tie the game, sending it into overtime.

Overtime:

  • No goals in overtime – to the shootout we go.

Shootout:

  • NSH – Ryan Ellis – MISS
  • CHI – Jonathan Toews – GOAL
  • NSH – Craig Smith – MISS
  • CHI – Patrick Kane – MISS
  • NSH – Filip Forsberg – MISS

And with that, the Nashville Predators fall 5-4 in the shootout and are now 24-9-3. As I have mentioned several times, the Predators take on the Blues tomorrow night at home. Luckily, the Blues may be just as exhausted as they, too have played tonight. However… they beat the Avalanche 3-0. Sheesh.