Preds shutout Sabres 3-0

Source: John Russell/NHLI

Source: John Russell/NHLI

Call this just as much a morale victory as it was a shutout because the Predators needed a win like this desperately. Nashville, who has been in a deep, inescapable rut, last won a home game back on February 24th against the Colorado Avalanche. Actually, that was the last game the Predators played well before completely dismantling. Although the Sabres are 20-44-7 (before the game), that did give many fans much encouragement as the Predators continue digging out (or deeper) of their rut.

PRE-GAME NOTES:

  • Viktor Arvidsson was recalled by the Predators under emergency conditions to replace Colin Wilson, who is now day-to-day with a lower-body injury. This would be Arvidsson’s NHL debut.

SCRATCHES:

  • Anton Volchenkov, Colin Wilson, James Neal, Eric Nystrom, Victor Bartley

FIRST PERIOD:

  • The Predators gave Matt Hackett, the Sabres goaltender, a run for his money with seventeen shots-on-goal. However, for a net-minder who has only played in a handful of NHL games, he played rather well. The Sabres were only able to notch six shots-on-goal during this period.

SECOND PERIOD:

  • The lamp would finally be lit at 14:52, just four seconds into Nashville’s powerplay, by Taylor Beck, his 7th goal of the season. Shea Weber (30) and Matt Cullen (16) would tally an assist.

THIRD PERIOD:

  • Craig Smith would put Nashville up 2-0 at 5:49 for his 23rd goal of the season. Ryan Ellis (16) and Matt Cullen (17) would notch the assists on Smith’s goal.
  • Mike Fisher would collect the game winner at 15:01, his 17th of the season. Viktor Stalberg (6) and Ryan Ellis (17) would tally the assists.

POST GAME NOTES:

  • Paul Gaustad did what he does best by winning all 13 face-offs in last night’s game.
  • Craig Smith was fined $5,000 by the league due to his high stick on Jerry D’Amigo; a penalty in which he served a double-minor.

  • The Predators are now just one point behind St. Louis from retaking the Central Division, whilst Chicago sits an uncomfortable four points behind Nashville.

Again, this could be chalked up as a morale victory more than anything for Nashville. I, for one, am hoping this win will boost the team out of their rut and onward into playoff contention. Ah, but the next opponents isn’t so easy… Montreal is on pass to be one of the first teams to surpass 100 points this season (the other team being Anaheim), a feat we once though Nashville would do. The Canadiens not only lead the Atlantic Division, they also dominate the Eastern Conference at 46-20-7. With Carey Price in net, who has now surpassed Pekka Rinne for wins at 40 (Rinne – 38), this will not be a walk in the park. But I bet you already knew that.

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).

NSH notches 40th Win in SO against BUF 2-1

Source: Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images

Source: Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images

Well, this isn’t the road trip the Predators expected to have, now is it? After taking a loss Thursday 5-2 from the New York Islanders, then limping away with a point yesterday afternoon against the Flyers, the Predators were hoping to shake off this excruciating road trip with a win against the 17-38-4 (ouch) Buffalo Sabres before returning home on Tuesday.

SCRATCHES: Victor Bartley, Calle Jarnkrok

FIRST PERIOD:

  • A rather uneventful period, Nashville managed to out-shoot Buffalo eleven to three, but Michal Neuvirth was there to block the Preds.

SECOND PERIOD:

  • What looked like another quiet period, Buffalo’s Tyler Ennis (15) was able to sink a wrister on Carter Hutton at 19:46, giving the Sabres a late second period 1-0 lead. Zemgus Girgensons (14) and Matt Moulson (17) tallied the assists.
  • Nashville once again out-shot Buffalo, this time fifteen to four, but it was Ennis who found the sweet spot.

THIRD PERIOD:

  • Relief for the Predators came at 15:43 on the powerplay as Mike Ribeiro (12) deflected a shot to tie the game at one. Cody Franson (27) and Seth Jones (16) notch the assists.
  • The Predators only managed ten shots-on-goal during the third, but again, out-shot the Sabres by four.

OVERTIME:

  • The Predators were given a late overtime powerplay chance, but nothing could be accomplished by either team in OT, so onward to the shootout…

SHOOTOUT:

  • BUF – Matt Moulson – MISS
  • NSH – Mike Santorelli – GOAL
  • BUF – Tyler Ennis – GOAL
  • NSH – Craig Smith – MISS
  • BUF – Zemgus Girgensons – MISS
  • NSH – Matt Cullen – MISS
  • BUF – Brian Gionta – MISS
  • NSH – Filip Forsberg – GOAL

POST GAME NOTES:

  • The Predators are the first team in the NHL to reach 40 wins with this shootout victory and set a franchise record.
  • Both Cody Franson and Mike Santorelli help secure this win tonight, with Franson collecting an assist and Santorelli sinking a goal in the shootout.

Inhale slowly through the nose, exhale slowly through the mouth; the Predators walk away with the two points. Okay, but let’s discuss how outrageous Michal Neuvirth was in net tonight. Nashville was doing everything right; you can see that from the amount of shots-on-goal. Unfortunately, Neuvirth was doing everything right, too. The kid blocked 37 of the 38 SOG; that’s Pekka-esque and pretty darn good.

Take a deep breath, my friends. The Predators are back home Tuesday to take on the Colorado Avalanche, who are currently sitting at the bottom of the Central Division. Then it’s a bout with Ryan Suter and the Minnesota Wild on Thursday.

Preds plunder Panthers 3-2 in SO

Source: Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images

Source: Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images

There ain’t no rest for the wicked, as they say and, whether you think the Predators are wicked or not is by personal opinion, Nashville hasn’t had much breathing room. After defeating the New York Rangers 3-2 yesterday afternoon, the Predators were back at it again this afternoon against the Florida Panthers in Sunrise.

SCRATCHES: Colin Wilson

FIRST PERIOD:

  • Very much like yesterday, the first period today was slightly uneventful with no goals for either team. Both teams were given powerplay chances, but neither goaltender was willing to let one by.

SECOND PERIOD:

  • The second period belonged to the Panthers, as both Tomas Fleischmann (6) and rookie Aaron Ekblad (8) would sink goals on Carter Hutton. The period would end in favor of the Panthers 2-0.
  • Mattias Ekholm suffered an upper-body injury late in the second period after slamming into the boards. Though he was able to leave on his own, Ekholm did not return to the game after his injury.

THIRD PERIOD:

  • The Predators finally hit the right notes at 4:44 into the third period with a powerplay slapshot from Seth Jones. Mike Ribeiro (34) setup the assist for Jones’ fifth goal of the season.
  • Filip Forsberg would tie the game at 15:17 on another powerplay opportunity, collecting his 18th goal of the season. No assistance was needed for Forsberg’s snapshot past Roberto Luongo.

OVERTIME:

  • Onward to the shootout!

SHOOTOUT:

  • FLA – Brandon Pirri – MISS
  • NSH – Matt Cullen – GOAL
  • FLA – Brad Boyes – GOAL
  • NSH – Craig Smith – GOAL
  • FLA – Nick Bjugstad – GOAL
  • NSH – Roman Josi – MISS
  • FLA – Dave Bolland – MISS
  • NSH – Filip Forsberg – GOAL

NOTEWORTHY:

  • With his game-tying and game-winning goal, Filip Forsberg is all smiles – as usual. With eighteen goals, Forsberg is tied with Alexander Radulov’s rookie goal record.

    Source: @tomawillis

  • Mike Fisher cup-checked Erik Gudbranson at the end of regulation and got away scot-free. Anyone who knows Fisher knows it was unintentional, but it’s still a wee bit funny:
  • Colin Wilson, who is day-to-day, did not make the trip with the team to Florida – unsurprisingly.
  • Carter Hutton is now 5-4-4 on the season and me thinks may have found his niche.

It is certainly safe to say that Nashville came into Sunrise, Florida and stole two points from the Panthers. With the collection of two points, Nashville is now 35-12-6 and, thanks to the Lightning defeating the Ducks 5-1, the Predators are now back atop the League with 76 points. Kudos to the Blackhawks as well for taking a chunk out of the St. Louis Blues 4-2 (the Blues are down by four at 72 points).

The Predators are back Tuesday night as they welcome the best in the Eastern Conference, the Tampa Bay Lightning.

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.

Preds fall to Blues 5-4 in SO – BONUS: Questionable Audio

Source: Harry How/Getty Images

The after effects of the All-Star break has been so-so for the Nashville Predators, with the team pulling out an overtime win against the Colorado Avalanche 4-3 at home on Tuesday, then losing last night to the St. Louis Blues in a shootout 5-4. Getting away with points is good and better than straight losing in regulation, but you can only plaster that “don’t freak out yet” smile across your face in so many games and continue to believe yourself. The thoughts of knowing you cannot get away with this within the playoffs keep pounding in the back of your mind, but you just… keep… smiling. Onward to the recap:

SCRATCHES: Taylor Beck, Pekka Rinne

FIRST PERIOD:

  • The Predators started out strong and on the right foot, with Mike Fisher notching his 10th goal of the season on the powerplay. Roman Josi (22) and Shea Weber (23) picked up the assists.
  • Carter Hutton screened twelve shots on goal by the Blues, keeping the Predators up 1-0 going into the second period.

SECOND PERIOD:

  • Nashville would continue dominance over St. Louis going into the second, as Filip Forsberg notched his 17th goal of the season at 5:36. Craig Smith (13) and Mike Ribeiro (33) pick up the assists.
  • But after Forsberg’s goal, the second period became St. Louis’ property, with Jaden Schwartz helping the Blues to a goal at 8:22.
  • Shortly thereafter, at 12:36, TJ Oshie helped himself to his 14th goal of the season, tying the game at two.
  • Not even thirty seconds later, Steve Ott would take the lead with his second goal of the season.
  • Mike Fisher would step up at 15:32 to tie the game once more, his 11th goal of the season with a short-handed goal. Roman Josi (23) and Calle Jarnkrok (8) would notch the assists.
  • Ryan Reaves, however, would give St. Louis the lead once again at 18:15, his fourth goal of the season.

THIRD PERIOD:

  • James Neal would be the only player to come through for either team during the third period, tying the game and pushing it into overtime. Mike Fisher (10) and Colin Wilson (18) would assist on Neal’s 16th goal of the season.

OVERTIME:

  • No goals – to the shootout we go.

SHOOTOUT:

  • STL – TJ Oshie – GOAL
  • NSH – Matt Cullen – MISS
  • STL – Vladimir Tarasenko – MISS
  • NSH – Craig Smith – MISS
  • STL – Alexander Steen – MISS
  • NSH – Roman Josi – GOAL
  • STL – Kevin Shattenkirk – GOAL
  • NSH – James Neal – MISS

With St. Louis closing the gap for the lead of the Central Division, Nashville really could’ve used two points – especially in regulation. However, to be positive, they still left with a point and still lead the division by four points. Here are some other important notes to take away from this game:

NOTEWORTHY:

  • The St. Louis Blues hold the best powerplay percentage record in the league. Not only did they muster six powerplays last night, Carter Hutton and the Predators’ special teams held the Blues to all six. Oh, and not to mention, Mike Fisher scored on one of their said powerplay opportunities.
  • Mike Fisher collected his 500th and 501st career point during last night’s bout in St. Louis. Congrats, Fish.
  • Speaking of Mikes, Mike Ribeiro continues to prove why he was the best free agent signing for the Preds this past off-season. Collecting an assist, he continues to lead the Predators in points at 47 this season; he currently has 699 career points… I am willing to bet he’ll have 700 by tonight.
  • Filip Forsberg continues to lead rookies in all categories that he can, with 42 points, 17 goals, 25 assists, and 25 plus/minus points.
  • Rinne traveled with the team to St. Louis and participated in practice. His return is eminent. Soon.
  • Carter Hutton picks up yet another loss, but blocked 31-35 shots. Some blocks were outrageous; others, well… his inconsistency with rebounds needs some serious, urgent care.

Now… to discuss what everyone is wondering… What the heck did we hear during the broadcast last night?!
Here’s a little background, in case you missed it: During the first period, sometime around Mike Fisher’s first goal of the night, the sound of a woman… uh… in action (?) could be heard whilst Pete Weber and Stu Grimson were commentating. Take a listen (warning: could be considered offensive or you may be unable to control your laughter):

Yes, you heard exactly what you thought you heard, my friends.

Yes, I deemed it as “barking” at first because I did not want to automatically assume some lady was uh… yea.

Fox Sports Tennessee was quick to apologize, but not before we also got to hear Stu Grimson belching on air:

Needless to say, it was quite an eventful first period for those of us watching from home. I’d also like to say this is the first – and hopefully last – time I have ever had to mention the word ‘porn’ on my blog. Never again, y’all.

The Predators are back at it tonight in Denver to take on the Avalanche, a team the barely defeated on Tuesday. Tonight’s game is Nashville’s last Central Division away game until April 7th and their last Western Conference away game until March 9th.

Noteworthy Notes: Montreal Calling

Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America

After a disappointing loss to Detroit 5-2 Saturday, the Predators hit the road to Montreal for one more game before the All-Star break this weekend. Though Nashville handled themselves well last Friday against the Washington Capitals with Carter Hutton in net, bringing him in back-to-back the next night proved fatal; though Detroit was on point that night no matter who was guarding Nashville’s net. So, what’s been going on since the defeat?

  • As fast as he came, Anthony Bitetto was reassigned to the Milwaukee Admirals after his NHL debut and first career call up. Bitetto tallied 11:01 of ice time for his first shot at the big time.
  • Viktor Stalberg might as well live out of a suitcase due to being reassigned to Milwaukee once again.
  • That being said, Eric Nystrom will make his return after a hiatus on the IR tonight in Montreal.
  • But… that leaves Olli Jokinen out. The lines for yesterday’s practice amongst forwards were: Forsberg-Ribeiro-Smith; Wilson-Fisher-Neal; Cullen-Jarnkrok-Bourque; Nystrom-Gaustad-Beck.
  • Ah, but this morning, practice amongst forwards fell as: Forsberg-Ribeiro-Smith; Wilson-Fisher-Neal; Cullen-Jarnkrok-Bourque; Nystrom-Gaustad-Jokinen with Taylor Beck as the odd man out. All the speculations!
  • Fun Fact: The Predators hold a 6-5-(1)-4 all-time record against the Montreal Canadiens.

WORLD WIDE WORLD OF TWITTER:

Noteworthy Notes: Welcome Back, Trotz!

barry

Unless you live under a rock and are just now crawling up from underneath it, you know that a certain someone who helped establish Nashville as a legitimate hockey town will be making an appearance tonight on the opposing team’s bench. Yes, Mitch Korn will be here also but I’m talking about former Predators head coach (and now head coach of the Washington Capitals), Barry Trotz.

If you were lucky enough to score tickets to tonight’s match up (the game sold out a few days ago), you’ll be certain to get a little teary-eyed with a touching tribute video to the former coach who helped Nashville in so many ways both on and off the ice. But don’t you dare forget this man is here to collect two points and hit the road and what better way to continue their three-game winning streak than to knock out the league leader?

  • Forsberg-Ribeiro-Smith, Wilson-Fisher-Neal, Cullen-Jarnkrok-Jokinen, and Bourque-Gaustad-Beck were today’s lines during practice.
  • Eric Nystrom skated with the team this morning (his second straight practice), but since he is not listed in the lines above, don’t expect him in the game tonight.
  • If you missed any information yesterday, Pekka Rinne will be out for around 3-5 weeks due to his sprained knee injury.
  • Marek Mazanec was called up from Miwaukee to backup Carter Hutton in Rinne’s absence.
  • As a stark reminder of how you should have some faith in Carter Hutton, one year ago today he made one of the most incredible (very Pekka-esque) saves ever… well, made:

From the World Wide World of Twitter:

Noteworthy Notes: Injuries, Reassignments & All-Star Game

Source: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images North America

There’s no hangover for Nashville after claiming both victory over the Dallas Stars in OT and the No. 1 spot in the League, but there is noteworthy news to be discussed.

  • After making his NHL debut and scoring his first NHL career goal, Right Winger Miikka Salomaki has been reassigned to the Milwaukee Admirals.
  • Salomaki’s reassignment is more than likely due in part to James Neal, Taylor Beck, and Matt Cullen hitting the ice in today’s practice (along with practicing in more recent ones as well, too). All three are registered on IR, with Neal being the most recent due to a lower-body injury. Matt Cullen (upper-body) and Taylor Beck (illness) should be ready to return to the active roster pretty soon. 12:53PM Update: Both Taylor Beck and Matt Cullen have been activated from the Injured Reserve.
  • No word has been released on how serious of an injury Ryan Ellis sustained last night. Ellis left the ice during the second period, did not return for the remainder of said game, and did not participate in team practice this morning. It is known, however, to be a lower-body injury of sorts.

  • Still no word on what injury caused Eric Nystrom to be placed on the IR so quickly.
  • Head Coach Peter Laviolette has been named one of the Head Coaches for the 2015 All-Star Game in Columbus! Darryl Sutter of the L.A. Kings will be the other head coach.

Welp, that’s the news for now. Of course, if anything else pops up – like if the NHL wants to ignore the Predators some more – it’ll be added to the list!

Nystrom & Neal added to IR; Salomaki recalled to NSH

ericandjames

After being recalled by Nashville this past week & sitting patiently on the Scratched list, Miikka Salomaki may finally be making his NHL debut tonight against the Dallas Stars.

There’s a good chance he’ll make his debut tonight due in part to both Eric Nystrom and James Neal being officially placed on the Injured Reserve. Though Neal’s placement was eminent, Nystrom comes as a bit of a surprise. I am not sure where he sustained an injury, as he seemed fine against the Hurricanes Tuesday and no news off an injury came about afterwards (until now).

It is interesting to note, however, that both Taylor Beck and Matt Cullen participated in today’s practice (they are both currently on IR). During this morning’s skate, Salomaki formed a third line alongside Olli Jokinen and Calle Jarnkrok, but we shall see if he truly makes his debut sometime before game start.