Carter Hutton Shines as NSH blanks PIT 4-0

Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

After being shutdown by the Colorado Avalanche Friday night 3-0, the Predators retreated to the City of Brotherly Love in search of a win against the 28-13-8 Penguins on Sunday afternoon. However, the last meeting between these two ended poorly for Nashville, as Pittsburgh entered the Music City and wiped the floor with the home team 3-0 (on the James Neal bobblehead night, no doubt). But the woes of being shutout aren’t the only thing nagging at the Predators; the St. Louis Blues are on a hot streak and have their sights set on taking the Central Division lead.

SCRATCHES: Pekka Rinne, Olli Jokinen

FIRST PERIOD:

  • Roman Josi put Nashville on the board at 4:05, sending a slapper by Marc-Andre Fleury, his ninth of the season. Filip Forsberg (26) and Shea Weber (24) notched the assists.
  • At 6:38, Gabriel Bourque sent his own slapshot towards the net, tallying his third goal of the season. Bourque’s slapper needed no assistance.
  • Nashville only had two more SOG than Pittsburgh, giving Carter Hutton some much deserved credit (NSH, 7; PIT, 5).

SECOND PERIOD:

  • In what looked like a goal-less period, Eric Nystrom gave the Predators a 3-0 lead at 19:19, his sixth of the season. Taylor Beck (5) notched the assist.
  • Again, props to Carter Hutton as this time the Penguins tallied eleven SOG compared to Nashville’s seven. Oh, and Nashville took four penalties during the second, giving the Penguins too many man-advantages.

THIRD PERIOD:

  • Nashville’s only goal during the third would come from Mike Fisher’s wrister on the powerplay at 8:20, his twelfth goal of the season. Filip Forsberg (27) and Roman Josi (24) would collect the assists.

NOTEWORTHY:

  • Filip Forsberg surpassed Mike Ribeiro to take the lead in points amongst the team. Ribeiro, who is one point shy of his 700th career, has 43 whereas Forsberg now has 44.
  • Not only was this Carter Hutton’s first road win of the season, it is also his first shutout (second career shutout).
  • Predators continue to hold first in the league (again) at 70 points. The Ducks, too, are at 70 points, but alas, they have lost one more regulation game than the Predators.

So there you have it: Shutout by Colorado on Friday, retaliated against Pittsburgh on Sunday and blanked them 4-0. Nashville also held off St. Louis taking the Central Division lead as well (NSH has 70 pts, STL has 68). It’s no doubt the Blues are hot right now (won the last five) and are, at this point, biting off Nashville’s heels for the lead. Chicago isn’t too far away, either; they sit a comfortable six points back, but that hasn’t stopped them before.

Want to see the Predators in action? Well, February is your month as Nashville has more home games on the schedule than I know what to do with, starting tomorrow against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

2015 NHL All-Star Weekend in Review

Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Columbus, Ohio was the place to be this weekend has the city hosted the 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend. As you know, Nashville was chosen as the host city for the 2016 ASG Weekend, which will be an event on its own. But until then, let’s recap the fun that happened this weekend in Columbus… Oh, and for the sake of keeping this post from being ninety pages long, we’ll stick to Nashville’s accomplishments:

Team Foligno:

  • Nick Foligno – Columbus Blue Jackets
  • Brian Elliot – St. Louis Blues
  • Marc-Andre Fleury – Pittsburgh Penguins
  • Carey Price – Montreal Canadiens
  • Drew Doughty – L.A. Kings
  • Duncan Keith – Chicago Blackhawks
  • Kevin Shattenkirk – St. Louis Blues
  • Dustin Byfuglien – Winnipeg Jets
  • Oliver Ekman-Larsson – Arizona Coyotes
  • Brent Burns – San Jose Sharks
  • Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Edmonton Oilers
  • Bobby Ryan – Ottawa Senators
  • Alexander Ovechkin – Washington Capitals
  • Anze Kopitar – L.A. Kings
  • Radim Vrabata – Vancouver Canucks
  • Ryan Johansen – Columbus Blue Jackets
  • Zemgus Girgensons – Buffalo Sabres
  • Claude Giroux – Philadelphia Flyers
  • Phil Kessel – Toronto Maple Leafs
  • Patrick Kane – Chicago Blackhawks
  • Steven Stamkos – Tampa Bay Lightning
  • Coaching Staff: Darryl Sutter – L.A. Kings

Team Toews:

  • Jonathan Toews – Chicago Blackhawks
  • Corey Crawford – Chicago Blackhawks
  • Roberto Luongo – Florida Panthers
  • Jaroslav Halak – New York Islanders
  • Aaron Ekblad – Florida Panthers
  • Mark Giordano – Calgary Flames
  • Shea Weber – Nashville Predators
  • Johnny Gaudreau – Calgary Flames
  • Brent Seabrook – Chicago Blackhawks
  • Ryan Suter – Minnesota Wild
  • Justin Faulk – Carolina Hurricanes
  • Filip Forsberg – Nashville Predators
  • Ryan Getzlaf – Anaheim Ducks
  • Patrik Elias – New Jersey Devils
  • Patrice Bergeron – Boston Bruins
  • Rick Nash – New York Rangers
  • Tyler Seguin – Dallas Stars
  • Vladimir Tarasenko – St. Louis Blues
  • Jakub Vorachek – Philadelphia Flyers
  • John Tavares – New York Islanders
  • Coaching Staff – Peter Laviolette – Nashville Predators

As you recall, Pekka Rinne was not included in the All-Star “draft” due to sustaining a knee sprain. Because Filip Forsberg was chosen last for Team Toews, he was the lucky winner of a brand new Honda Accord. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins also won a new Honda, as he was chosen last for Team Foligno.

Source: @NHL

Source: @NHL

Saturday – Skills Competition – Winner: Team Foligno

Despite a good show by Team Toews, it was Team Foligno who reigned in the Skills Competition held on Saturday evening. Both Weber and Forsberg participated in the relay and shootout, but it was Weber who shined – not surprisingly – during the Hardest Shot round.

Shea originally missed his first shot, but more than nailed his second attempt, clocking his shot at 108.5 MPH. Weber certainly won the competition, but missed notching the hardest shot ever recorded, which is held by Zdeno Chara at 108.8 MPH. Forsberg shined in the relay portion, showing off his crazy insane puck-handling skills.

Sunday – All-Star Game – Winner: Team Toews

Though the fell short in the Skills Competition, Team Toews out-powered Team Foligno by a long shot during the actual All-Star Game, winning 17-12. And, believe it or not, though the All-Star Game tends to always have a ton of goals, this was the highest scoring game in its history. Filip Forsberg’s two goals helped get Team Toews to the win, the first goals scored by a Nashville Predator in an All-Star Game. Shea Weber also notched an assist off of Tyler Seguin’s goal.

From the World Wide World of Twitter:

So that’s a wrap on the 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend. Next Stop: Nashville! But before then, the Predators must press forward with the remainder of this season and push into the playoffs. Pekka Rinne should also be re-evaluated soon, along with Ryan Ellis. The Predators return to the regular season this Tuesday as they welcome in the Colorado Avalanche at 7PM.

Radulov saves Preds from Shutout; Penguins Win 5-1 over Predators

Alexander Radulov wastes no time getting back into a Preds sweater.

After a rough and embarrassing loss against the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday, the Predators took to the road once again, seeking a win in Pittsburgh against the newly-returned Sidney Crosby and the Penguins. Since Crosby’s return last Thursday, the Penguins have left a wake of destruction behind them, burying the Rangers, the Devils, and the Jets. The only team to escape unscathed was the Flyers, and even then it was an OT loss 3-2. Just looking at Pittsburgh’s past schedule (their last loss since Sunday was against Buffalo on February 19th), it is clear the Predators weren’t just going to walk in here and walk out with a win. Even with the return of Alexander Radulov, the Predators were going to have to make little to no mistakes against this Eastern Conference powerhouse in order to steal their ranking back from the Red Wings.
Here are the highlights from tonight’s game:

KEY POINTS:

  • Pittsburgh wasted no time letting their fans sing, as Evgeni Malkin sent a speeding slap shot passed Pekka Rinne to seal his 44th goal of the season at 1:23. Malkin is currently 2nd in goals in the league, sitting just a few goals behind Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
  • Pascal Dupuis sealed his 22nd goal of the season at 4:06, putting the Penguins up over the Predators early in the 1st 2-0.
  • Pittsburgh would continue to dominate the Predators into the 2nd, with Matt Cooke sending a wrist shot passed Pekka to land his 17th goal of the season at 1:58.
  • Putting the Penguins up 4-0, Chris Kunitz would hit a wrist shot of his own passed Nashville’s goalie to collect his 22nd goal of the season at 7:35.
  • Nashville would finally sink a goal passed Marc-Andre Fleury at 12:01 from Alexander Radulov. Good start since leaving the Predators and NHL four years ago, it was clear that Pittsburgh fans did not approve of Radulov’s return. Hall Gill (11th assist) and Patric Hornqvist (14th assist) picked up the assists on the newly-returned Russian’s goal.
  • Evgeni Malkin would remind Pittsburgh fans who the better of the two Russians were with his second goal of the night at 19:04, sending the Penguins up 5-1. Although his 45th goal of the season, Malkin still falls behind Stamkos in the standings. However, he did surpass Steven Stamkos in points. Many believe Malkin will be top contender for the Hart Memorial Trophy this year.
  • The Predators took plenty of shots on goal tonight, but their accuracy lacked the intensity that the Penguins were able to bestow upon Nashville defense and net. Nashville out-shot Pittsburgh 30 to 23, but again, accuracy was just not in the cards with the Predators tonight. Sergei Kostitsyn, Martin Erat, and Mike Fisher had prime goal chances, but the connection just wasn’t there. Alexander Radulov and Craig Smith also had some close goals, but in the end, it just wasn’t meant to be for the Predators.
  • Although having a rough night, Pekka Rinne was not pulled and replaced with Anders Lindback. As you recall, Pekka was pulled at the beginning of the 2nd Period on Tuesday night against Edmonton due to a chippy performance. Trotz let Peks play the 60 minutes, which may have actually been the best for him. Instead of being frustrated and discouraged from being pulled, a loss at which he had control of may cause him to snap back into his former self. Unfortunately, goalie Marc-Andre Fleury has now surpassed Pekka as leader in wins… just by one point, though. Pekka still has a chance to overthrow the French-Canadian.
  • The Predators only gave the Penguins one penalty throughout the entire game with an interference call on Shea Weber at 19:01 in the 1st Period. The Predators were given two chances, but were unable to perform on either power play.

Most would say, “Oh well, at least the loss was to an Eastern Conference team.” However, with the playoffs inching closer by the minute and with teams like the Red Wings surpassing the Predators and Chicago on their coattails, the Predators have no room to be lazy and sluggish. Keep in mind, though, every team goes through rough patches and, unfortunately, the Predators happen to be bopping through theirs close to the playoffs. It’s easy to get discouraged and flustered about the Predators and their future in the playoffs (again, lackluster plays = couch time), but rough patches will and do happen.

Last but not least, congrats to Alexander Radulov and sealing his first goal of his NHL career since leaving for the KHL four years ago. Not only that, sinking that said goal in his first game back. Similar to Andrei Kostitsyn’s first goal as a Predator during his first game (also on the road), Radulov started off on the right foot tonight.

The Predators are on their way back to Nashville tonight, taking tomorrow off and then taking on another Eastern Conference foe, the Atlanta Thrash- err, Winnipeg Jets. And, just for good measure, the puck will drop at 6PM instead of the usual 7PM start time, easing the folks on EST (what about us with Pacific time?!). Don’t forget, the Predators will be having a public practice tomorrow at 11AM at Centennial Sportsplex.

Until then,
GO PREDS.

(Photo credit: Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images)