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Although it was a bittersweet night with the return of Shea Weber to Nashville since being traded to Montreal for P.K. Subban in the off-season, it wasn’t how the Predators had hoped to start 2017 and the second half of the season. The 3-on-3 OT format has been in place since last season, and while the rest of the league has generally figured it out, Nashville just hasn’t seemed to get it down. In fact, Nashville’s OT/SO record since the start of last season is 7-20. Woof.
However, it’s that continuous inconsistency that forces the Predators into that all too familiar scenario that is the overtime loss. Nashville’s lone goal was notched by Kevin Fiala with less than a minute left in the second period, his sixth of the season. Fiala’s backhander was assisted by Ryan Ellis (9) and Roman Josi (15). It wouldn’t take long before Shea Weber would come knocking, collecting his 10th goal of the season with the assistance of former (and not so welcomed) Predator, Alexander Radulov. It’s almost like he doesn’t know how not to score in Bridgestone Arena.
While Nashville would push Montreal beyond regulation (which used to be considered a good thing), overtime would yet again deny Nashville of the much needed win and two points. Captain Max Pacioretty would seal Nashville’s OT fate for his 16th goal of the season. Let it also be known that Radulov assisted on this goal as well (his 20th overall).
Despite this loss, Nashville’s penalty kill looked rather decent, with the Predators denying the Habs four times throughout the match. Montreal gave Nashville three chances at the man advantage, but prevented them from ever getting a chance at net. Oh yeah, and Carey Price is a stud. And yet, so is Pekka Rinne. As Peter Laviolette mentioned after the game:
Of the 45 shots on net from Montreal last night, Pekka Rinne stopped all but two. Carey Price only faced 24 from Nashville. While some would rather argue that Juuse Saros should be given more ice time (and I don’t disagree – to an extent), Rinne is still Nashville’s veteran and starting goaltender; and pardon my French here, but he’s still damn good. Saros will be an outstanding successor for Rinne but for now, he’s just that; the future. He probably should see a little bit more ice time, but that’s a debate for another day.
Nashville has no time to pout about their former captain stealing the show; it’s onward to Florida to face the 19-16-4 Tampa Bay Lightning. At this point, the Predators have no time left to revel over poor performance; just time to recoup and continue seeking the solution to their inconsistency before the playoffs are out of reach.
Let me leave you on a rather heartwarming note with Nashville’s tribute video to Shea Weber. A TV timeout just wasn’t enough time to convey what Weber has done for Nashville and the growth of hockey in our city. So many lives have been impacted positively by your actions both on and off the ice. Truly, there are not enough thank yous that can be said to express how grateful we are. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.