2017 NHL All-Star Roster Announced

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Image Source: NBC Sports

Moments ago, the NHL released the final roster of the 2017 NHL All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles January 28th-29th. Not surprisingly, Nashville has only one player on said roster: P.K. Subban, who was voted by the fans as the Central Division Captain. And, with his upper-body injury slated to be healed by the All-Star Weekend, Subban may have to relinquish his captain duties to someone else for safety’s sake.

– CENTRAL DIVISION

  • P.K. Subban – Nashville Predators
  • Corey Crawford – Chicago Blackhawks
  • Devan Dubnyk – Minnesota Wild
  • Ryan Suter – Minnesota Wild
  • Duncan Keith – Chicago Blackhawks
  • Patrick Kane – Chicago Blackhawks
  • Jonathan Toews – Chicago Blackhawks
  • Vladimir Tarasenko – St. Louis Blues
  • Patrik Laine – Winnipeg Jets
  • Nathan MacKinnon – Colorado Avalanche
  • Tyler Seguin – Dallas Stars

 

– ATLANTIC DIVISION:

  • Carey Price – Montreal Canadiens
  • Tuukka Rask – Boston Bruins
  • Victor Hedman – Tampa Bay Lightning
  • Shea Weber – Montreal Canadiens
  • Erik Karlsson – Ottawa Senators
  • Frans Nielsen – Detroit Red Wings
  • Nikita Kucherov – Tampa Bay Lightning
  • Vincent Trocheck – Florida Panthers
  • Auston Matthews – Toronto Maple Leafs
  • Kyle Okposo – Buffalo Sabres
  • Brad Marchand – Boston Bruins

– PACIFIC DIVISION:

  • Connor McDavid – Edmonton Oilers
  • Martin Jones – San Jose Sharks
  • Mike Smith – Arizona Coyotes
  • Cam Fowler – Anaheim Ducks
  • Brent Burns – San Jose Sharks
  • Drew Doughty – L.A. Kings
  • Ryan Kesler – Anaheim Ducks
  • Joe Pavelski – San Jose Sharks
  • Jeff Carter – L.A. Kings
  • Johnny Gaudreau – Calgary Flames
  • Bo Horvat – Vancouver Canucks

– METROPOLITAN DIVISION:

  • Sidney Crosby – Pittsburgh Penguins
  • Braden Holtby – Washington Capitals
  • Sergei Bobrovsky – Columbus Blue Jackets
  • Evgeni Malkin – Pittsburgh Penguins
  • Wayne Simmonds – Philadelphia Flyers
  • John Tavares – New York Islanders
  • Alexander Ovechkin – Washington Capitals
  • Ryan McDonagh – New York Rangers
  • Justin Faulk – Carolina Hurricanes
  • Taylor Hall – New Jersey Devils
  • Seth Jones – Columbus Blue Jackets

What do you think about the roster for this year’s All-Star Weekend? Nashville isn’t the only team with one representative, but if you want to include former Preds (Ryan Suter, Devan Dubnyk, Seth Jones, and Shea Weber), then Nashville’s actually pretty well represented.

All joking aside, the big question is will Subban be healthy enough to participate? As mentioned, his 2-3 week recovery time ends at about the time of the All-Star festivities, but should not participate if it risks re-injury (thus keeping him out of the lineup even longer). Of course, that will be something the organization and Subban discuss as time gets closer.

 

 

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Johansen Trade: The Day After

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Now that the dust has settled (for the most part), both Columbus and Nashville can rest easy – at least when it comes to the smoothness of said trade negotiation. In an interview today, General Manager David Poile noted that, “if Roman Josi wasn’t doing as good as he is, we wouldn’t have made this trade”. There no doubt this was a very difficult decision for GMDP; as a team possibly best known for its development of elite defensemen, it certainly wouldn’t be easy choosing which guy would be on the trade block.

Of course, Shea Weber is not up for debate (despite many throwing his name out there – it’s not going to happen) and, with the Norris-caliber performance Roman Josi has been displaying recently certainly meant he wasn’t going anywhere. Yes, trading off the budding 21-year-old who has plenty of potential and time to grow that is Seth Jones (and the fact Poile loved the kid) would be a difficult move to make. However, the success of this trade – a simple him-for-him – shows the urgent need of both teams. As stated in my previous post, Columbus is in desperate need of defense; Nashville is in serious need of some offense. The trade between both teams was a no-brainer. Now, decided who to let go (who could potentially boost an opposing team and cause an issue later on down the road) is the tricky part.

If you have done any digging on Mr. Johansen, or you’ve just been following current events relating to the subject, you’ve probably heard he and the Columbus organization – namely head coach John Tortorella – had some disagreements, so to say. Nothing major or involving off-ice behavior, just normal coach-to-player disconnect. Tortorella, who was hired in October, believed Johansen’s performance decline was due to being out of shape and essentially marked him as a healthy scratch a few times. It was later determined that the center had an “undisclosed illness” that was attributing to his negative performance.

I’ve come across a few comments from fans regarding Johansen’s performance once the trade was announced, including “good luck. Johansen is a lazy player” to “well, Columbus clearly got the better end of the deal”. Now, I must take the comments with a grain of salt (and so should you) as these are fans with some serious bias. Nashville is no different, with fans bashing Jones’ performance as well. To see an in-depth, detailed look at Jonansen’s numbers, check out OnTheForecheck’s assessment here. But, from what I gather, Ryan Johansen and John Tortorella simply did not mesh well and, let’s be honest, it is Tortorella we are talking about. The man is a bit on the nutty side, to put it nicely.

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Again, I shall take those comments from Blue Jackets fans with a grain of salt and you should, too.

However, we shall be the judge of Ryan Johansen’s “laziness” starting tomorrow when the Predators take on the 20-18-3 Colorado Avalanche in Denver. Of course, Johansen is not going to come flying onto the ice with a golden halo with angels tooting horns behind him; he’ll need time to get used to a new system. This kid has spent his entire professional career under the Blue Jackets organization so it’ll take a bit to see which line he pairs best with. According to Adam Vingan of The Tennessean, Peter Laviolette stated that Johansen will start with Colin Wilson and James Neal.

Ryan Johansen practiced with the team today and is expected to suit up for tomorrow night’s bout in Denver. Debate as to what number Johansen would choose was floating around yesterday as his current number 19 belongs to Calle Jarnkrok. It was announced earlier this morning that Johansen would go with #92 in recognition of his birth year, 1992. The 23-year-old center is confident in his abilities and, to quote GMDP, “We accomplished something we haven’t been able to do in 18 years. We got a first line center.” That tells you right there that GMDP is confident with this trade. Of course, offering up Seth Jones, who will likely become a defensive star within a few years, was enough of an example of Poile’s confidence as any.

Again, the most that you need to take away from this post is that don’t expect him to come out guns a blazing tomorrow night, though that would be awesome. However, Johansen has proven himself in more ways than one that projects a confidence that will result in great success for Nashville. As long as I didn’t just jinx it.

Also, for those wondering who are too afraid to ask, Ryan Johansen is from Vancouver, Canada. Needless to say, his name is pronounced JOE-Hansen, not YO-Hansen. I’ll be the first to admit I immediately thought it was YO-Hansen, but I blame Jarnkrok, Josi, and Juuse Saros for that. I just want more Scandinavian players, okay. You’ll hear various versions of how to pronounce Johansen as he settles in with the club (even David Poile has been calling him Yo-hansen), so just note that it is JOE, not YO.

 

Preds Thump Sharks 2-1

Image Source: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Did you make it through the entire game last night? I’ll be honest, I conked out at the end of the second period. A lot of you fought the strong hand of the Sandman and are now hooked up to your trusty caffeine IVs while you struggle through the workday. But alas, you have a smile on your face and deem it completely worth the lack of sleep because the Predators extended their record to 7-1-1 after defeating the 5-3-0 San Jose Sharks last night. Want some highlights? We’ve got your highlights:

First Period:

  • Eric Nystrom was on point from the very beginning, sending a gorgeous one-timer on net passed Martin Jones at 3:22 for an early 1-0 lead. Roman Josi (4) and Paul Gaustad (2) nabbed the assists on Nystrom’s third goal of the young season.

  • Barret Jackman picked up a roughing penalty against Tommy Wingels, but the Predators penalty kill did its job and ended the first period 1-0.

Second Period:

  • No goals were had by either team in the second, but Joe Thornton and Shea Weber did get called for Unsportsmanlike conduct when Weber cross-checked Thornton after he checked Roman Josi.

Third Period:

  • Just 1:28 into the third, San Jose finally slipped one passed Rinne with Joe Pavelski collecting his fourth goal of the season.
  • Calle Jarn-CROAK, on the other hand, wasn’t having a tied game for long, picking up his first goal of the season at 8:52. Gabriel Bourque (1) and Seth Jones (5) assisted on Jarnkrok’s wicked wrister.

  • The boys in gold white would hold off the Sharks until the end though, with Nashville out-shooting San Jose 24 to 21.

Random Musings:

  • For those Wilson lovers out there, Colin took a puck to the head during the first period. No need to panic, he is okay. I just really wanted to post this gif:

  • Wondering why I said “Jarn-CROAK” earlier? The announcers had a bit of a difficult time pronouncing it during the first period. Glad they got it corrected before he scored the game winning goal.

That last tweet by Mr. Bradford needs to be further addressed. The Sharks won 80% of the face-offs in the first period alone. There were 53 face-offs total last night, with San Jose winning 37 and Nashville only winning 16. Eek. Time to panic? No, because as great as they are to win, they don’t necessarily define how the outcome of the game. Nashville is not chasing the puck when they lose (for the most part), which keeps them on the plus side of possessions. Though it is certainly something to work on, it is not a dire situation like other aspect could be (penalty kill, power play, etc.). So, in a nutshell, don’t freak out over win/loss numbers within the faceoff just yet.

Nashville continues down the West Coast with a stop in Los Angeles on Saturday for a special Halloween puck drop of 3PM.

Preds Release Opening Night Roster

opening night

Yesterday afternoon, the Predators released the finalized 23-man roster for the 2015-16 NHL season. Without further ado, here are your Nashville Predators:

FORWARDS

Smith

Forsberg

Arvidsson

Bourque

Fisher

Gaustad

Hodgson

Neal

Nystrom

Wilson

Ribeiro

watson

51(1)

DEFENSE

Bartley

Bitetto

Ekholm

Ellis

Weber

Josi

Jackman

Jones

GOALIES

Rinne

Hutton

 

So, are you surprised by who made  the roster? We certainly are happy to see that Austin Watson made the cut, as that kid has been working something hard in the AHL. The same can be said for Viktor Arvidsson, who is definitely ready for his light to shine this season.

The 2015-16 NHL season opens tonight with the Maple Leafs vs. the Canadiens, the Blackhawks vs. Rangers, the Flames vs. the Canucks, and the Kings vs. the Sharks. However, Nashville opens the season tomorrow at home against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Preds of the World(s)

worlds

Now that the season has officially ended (whether we want to cope with it or not), some of the Predators aren’t finished hitting the rinks just yet. Six – thus far – of Nashville’s players will be taking off to the Czech Republic to represent their home countries in the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. Here’s who we have thus far:

TEAM SUOMI (FINLAND): PEKKA RINNE
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  • Pekka was named to the World Championship All-Star team in 2014 and also won MVP that year as well.

TEAM SUISSE (SWITZERLAND): ROMAN JOSI & KEVIN FIALA
swiss

  • Kevin Fiala may be young, but he is no stranger to Team Switzerland. Fiala has competed for Suisse in 2012, 2013, and 2014.
  • Roman Josi has a number of accolades from participation with Team Switzerland, including IIHF World Champion MVP, Silver Medalist, Media All-Star Team, and Best Defenseman in 2013.

TEAM USA: Seth Jones
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  • Seth Jones, like Kevin Fiala, is no stranger to the IIHF Worlds for Team USA. Jones helped lead Team USA to gold medals in 2011 (WJC18), 2012 (WJC18), and 2013 (WJC). He played alongside teammate Craig Smith last year and helped bring Team USA to 6th place.

tre kronor (sweden): filip forsberg & mattias ekholm
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  • Filip Forsberg has never seen less than second place while suited up for Tre Kronor, winning the silver medal in 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014. Forsberg helped lead his World Juniors team to overall victory in 2012. In 2014, Forsberg was named World Junior Best Forward and MVP. Surprisingly, this will be Forsberg’s first bout away from World Juniors.
  • Mattias Ekholm has had as lucrative of a career with Tre Kronor has Forsberg has, but he did help Sweden collect the bronze medal last year.

Since the tournament officially begins Friday, I do not if any other Predators will be added to their country’s rosters, but who knows.

As I mentioned, the tournament kicks off Friday with Team Latvia vs. Team Canada (4:15PM) and Team Czech vs. Team Sweden (8:15PM) in the O2 Arena and Team USA vs. Team Finland (4:15PM) and Team Russia vs. Team Norway (8:15PM) in the CEZ Arena. Let me elaborate on those puck drop times, too. Those times would be relevant to those within the Czech timezone; the Czech Republic is seven hours ahead of the Central Timezone. Needless to say, the first games would start at 9:15AM our time, and the second games would start at 1:15PM. Here’s a TV listing of where you can view the games:

Date Game Network Game time (CT)
Fri., May 1 Team USA vs. Finland NBCSN (live) 9 a.m.
Sat., May 2 Team USA vs. Norway NBCSN (delay at 10 p.m.) 1 p.m.
Mon., May 4 Team USA vs. Russia NBCSN (live) 9 a.m.
Thur., May 7 Team USA vs. Belarus NBCSN (live) 9 a.m.
Fri., May 8 Team USA vs. Denmark NBCSN (live) 1 p.m.
Sun., May 10 Team USA vs. Slovenia NBCSN (delay at 2 p.m.) 10 a.m.
Tue., May 12 Team USA vs. Slovakia NBCSN (live) 10 a.m.
Thu., May 14 IIHF Quarterfinals NBCSN (live) 8 a.m.
IIHF Quarterfinals Live Extra app, TV TBD 9 a.m.
IIHF Quarterfinals Live Extra app, TV TBD 10:30 a.m.
IIHF Quarterfinals Live Extra app, TV TBD 12 p.m.
IIHF Quarterfinals Live Extra app, TV TBD 1 p.m.
IIHF Quarterfinals Live Extra app, TV TBD 10:30 p.m.
Sat., May 16 IIHF Semifinals Live Extra app, TV TBD 8:30 a.m.
IIHF Semifinals Live Extra app, TV TBD 12 p.m.
Sun., May 17 IIHF Bronze Medal Game Live Extra app, TV TBD 11 a.m.
IIHF Gold Medal Game NBCSN (live) 1:30 p.m.

I’ll update this list if anything changes or if any new players are added to their country’s rosters.

Preds help Hawks Count; Take Game 2 6-2

Source: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Source: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Well, if that wasn’t a good way to show that Nashville has what it takes to make it beyond the first round then I can’t tell you what was. Similar to Wednesday’s game, there were quite a few circumstances that certainly went against the Predators. However, instead of allowing those instances to bog them down, Nashville persevered and then some to take victory of Game 2 6-2. Here are the main highlights you should take away from last night’s game:

  • Definition of Top Shelf Cheddar? That’d be Colin Wilson, who did just that to give the Predators the lead early in the first period. That snipe was Wilson’s third of the playoffs – he might just be the hero of the playoffs.
  • Patrick Sharp would put Chicago on the board, but Roman Josi would make sure Nashville ended the period in the lead with just three seconds left in the first.
  • The penalty kill was overtly prepared for the possibility of spending some time in the box, due in part to Wednesday’s shenanigans. Gaustad was called for a four-minute high-sticking during the second period, putting the Predators in an all too familiar setting. However, the PK only allowed one shot-on-goal during that four minute spat, boosting not only the crowd but the team as well.
  • Patrick Kane’s goal was greatly celebrated, one could say, as he had five other buddies on the ice to do so with! A huge, monstrous missed too-many-men call lead to Kane’s first goal of the playoffs – one that happened to tie the game. To add insult to injury, the officials would soon wave off a perfectly clean goal from Calle Jarnkrok.

  • Injuries were abound last night, with Taylor Beck traveling back to the locker room after a Seabrook shot, and Shea Weber leaving for the remainder of the game with a lower-body injury. Weber will not be making the trip with the team to Chicago, definitely confirming he will be out at least two game. Mike Fisher, on the other hand, will be making the trip. Here’s a .gif of where Weber’s injury occurred:

  • Craig Smith notched his first of two goals last night in the second, helping to break that awful second period slump and gave Nashville a 3-2 lead going into the third.
  • Filip Forsberg gave the Predators a 4-2 lead in the third, becoming the youngest player in Preds franchise history to score a post-season goal.
  • And, quickly after Forsberg, Craig Smith wanted another taste and notched his second goal of the night on Corey Crawford. Ah, and Pekka Rinne picked up the assist on his goal, too.
  • Mike Santorelli would get the deciding goal for his first in the playoffs, making the final score 6-2 in favor of Nashville.
  • Vince Vaughn was in town to watch his beloved Blackhawks along with NHL Commissioner, Gary Bettman. The Predators should be beaming to show off such a great game to someone who doesn’t care much for small markets.

Other Thoughts:

That, ladies and gentlemen, was a game for the ages. The Predators went in knowing that things would possibly go against them – as it always has. Instead of taking the beating, Nashville stood firm and expressed the type of discipline they have been lacking for a while. Maybe it was the loss of Weber; maybe it was the excellent PK on that double-minor; whatever the case, there was a fire lit under the Predators that needs to stay lit for tomorrow’s game in Chicago and beyond.

Game 3 in Chicago starts at 2PM — A little bit earlier than the two here at home, I’d say. Like I said, that fire from last night needs to be there tomorrow. Chicago will have the crowd and home ice advantage, which could break them mentally. No need for mentality breaks.

Ugly OT Win breaks Preds 6-Game Losing Streak

Source: Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images

Source: Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images

Call it what you will: ugly, gritty, rough, etc., but the Predators pulled out the two-points over the Arizona Coyotes to end their six-game losing streak last night.

SCRATCHED: Victor Bartley, Calle Jarnkrok, Eric Nystrom, Anton Volchenkov

FIRST PERIOD:

  • The Predators came out with a little more fire under their belts, but goaltender Louis Domingue interrupted all 13 SOG that Nashville mustered. For someone who has only tended NHL ice once previously to this match, Domingue brought his A-game; a testament to his solid abilities.
  • Pekka was on point, too, last night, blocking all nine shots-on-goal from the Coyotes in the first period.

SECOND PERIOD:

  • At 3:26 into the second period, Paul Gaustad collected his third goal of the season with assistance from Taylor Beck (7).
  • Both Arizona and Nashville were given two power play opportunities, but neither could capitalize on the advantage.
  • The Coyotes out-shot the Predators eleven to eight.

THIRD PERIOD:

  • At 7:27 into the third, the Coyotes set the game with a tip-in from Kyle Chipchura, his 4th goal of the season.
  • Nashville was awarded three power play chances in the third, including one that would follow up to the end of regulation, but they were unable to connect.
  • The Predators out-shot the Coyotes twelve to eight in the third period.

OVERTIME:

  • James Neal came to the rescue, scoring his 22nd goal of the season just 2:45 in overtime. Seth Jones (17) and Cody Franson (29) tallied the assists on Neal’s game-winning-goal.

POST GAME NOTES:

  • The Predators are now 8-0-1 when Paul Gaustad notches a point during the span of a game.
  • Nashville is also 9-1-2 when Viktor Stalberg is in the lineup.
  • Gaustad’s goal ends another poignant streak; the eleven-straight games without tallying the first goal. Reminder: six of those eleven resulted in losses.
  • Cody Franson tallied his first point with the Predators since being traded to the team back in February (and, if we want to get really technical, his first points with the Preds since the 2010-11 season).
  • With two points, the Predators jump the Anaheim Ducks to reclaim first in the Western Conference and league. That’s an amazing stat in its own, that Nashville was able to lose six-straight and still bounce back into the lead with one win.
  • Pekka Rinne now has 199 career wins and the Predators franchise now has their 599th win.

The Predators aren’t out of hot water just yet; oh no. Nashville heads further west, taking on all three teams in California before making it back home on Tuesday to face the Minnesota Wild. The Sharks, who Nashville plays Thursday night at 9:30PM, will be desperately looking for a win as they are sitting in fifth in the Pacific Division and just one point behind the Kings.

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.

Fans brave Ice & Preds Win 5-1

Source: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

How’s everyone doing during the #ICESTORM2015? What was supposed to be ideal, beautiful snow turned into hazardous, just-plain-evil ice across the entire state. In fact, it has been so bad, Tennessee officials declared a State of Emergency. Needless to say, the attendance for tonight’s game against the 29-21-8 San Jose Sharks wasn’t expected to be a sellout. However, the fear of being stranded somewhere along one of the deserted interstates tonight didn’t stop the Loyal Legion from turning out.

NOTEWORTHY (PRE-GAME):

  • As mentioned in the previous post, Anthony Bitetto was recalled last minute by Nashville to fill a void in the defense (Anton Volchenkov was placed on IR).
  • However, where Bitetto made the flight to Nashville, his equipment bad did not. This left Nashville with a ton more forwards than defensemen.
  • Nashville’s solution? During warmups, Viktor Stalberg – who just cleared waivers not even 24-hours ago – was paired on the defense with Seth Jones…
  • Just before puck drop, Viktor Stalberg was declared the healthy scratch and Anthony Bitetto was given the green light.
  • But… the team was down to just five d-men for a few minutes, as Bitetto’s bag arrived a little after game start.
  • Cody Franson and Mike Santorelli did not make their return tonight due to issues with their work visas. So… they don’t already have those?

SCRATCHES:

  • Viktor Stalberg, Cody Franson, and Mike Santorelli

FIRST PERIOD:

  • San Jose’s Matt Irwin (5) drew the first blood at 5:26, sending a wrister past Pekka Rinne.
  • Shea Weber quickly tied it up at 13:42 with his signature slapshot, his 14th goal of the season. Mike Fisher (15) picked up the assist.
  • Craig Smith took a chunk of Alex Stalock at 16:02, collecting his 17th goal of the season with a wrister. Mattias Ekholm (9) and Mike Ribeiro (36) tally the assists.
  • Preds end the first period up 2-1 on the Sharks, though San Jose out-shoots Nashville 17 to 15.

SECOND PERIOD:

  • Just 52 seconds into the period, Craig Smith notched his second goal of the season (18) on the powerplay. Colin Wilson (20) and Seth Jones (15) punch the assists.
  • Paul Gaustad wanted a piece of the pie and got his at 1:43, his second goal of the season. Gabriel Bourque (6) and Shea Weber (28) pick up the assists on Gaustad’s wrister.
  • James Neal would finish off the second period with his 20th goal of the season at 10:31. Mike Ribeiro (37) collects the lone assist.
  • San Jose out-shot Nashville 15 to 13.

THIRD PERIOD:

  • No goals in the third.
  • San Jose out-shot Nashville in each period, this time 11 to 9.

NOTEWORTHY (POST GAME):

  • Pekka Rinne is a beast indeed (not that you needed any convincing). You know he’s doing big things when NHL takes notice:

  • James Neal is the first on the roster to reach 20 goals and he now has 7-straight 20-goal seasons.
  • Both Shea Weber and Mike Fisher are now on three-game point streaks.
  • Another reminder of how great Rinne is:
  • Pekka stopped 42 of 43 shots-on-goal tonight. Tell me he isn’t Vezina worthy.
  • The Predators now hold a six-point lead over the entire NHL.

With this win, the Predators are just seven wins away from clinching a playoff spot (and it isn’t even March yet) and are now 39-12-6. Wowza. The Preds take off for a three-game road trip to the East, starting with the New York Islanders on Thursday.

Preds take Lightning 3-2 with OT Winner

Source: John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images

Source: John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images

Has it decided that the Predators love the game so much they just have to beyond regulation? Or am I – and everyone else – just suffering from a case of déjà vu? Either way you slice it, the Predators are coming out with the two points — whilst doling a point to their given opponent. The Tampa Bay Lightning are just as their name perceives – lightning fast and that trait has helped boost them to the top of the Eastern Conference and fourth in the league (tied at 74 points with the Blues who have one less loss than the Bolts). The Predators have more of a “if I can setup the play, I’ll just dump it” mentality, which has gotten better this season than in the past, but with a in-your-face team like Tampa Bay, the Predators needed to be a little more risqué when it comes to shooting the puck… at the net.

SCRATCHES: Mattias Ekholm, Colin Wilson, Olli Jokinen

FIRST PERIOD:

  • For the third game in a row, neither team was able to get one in the net during the third period. Chalk this one up to both Pekka Rinne and Andrei Vasilevskiy just being on point. Rinne blocked ten shots-on-goal while Vasilevskiy blocked his eight shots. I mean, look what this kid did to rob Mike Ribeiro:

SECOND PERIOD:

  • In only his second NHL Career game, Anthony Bitetto – who was called up to fill in for the injured Mattias Ekholm – dropped the gloves against Brett Connolly. Bitetto did so to defend fellow player Craig Smith, which made a fairly good impression on his teammates – that, and Bitetto clearly won the bout.
  • Seth Jones would finally get the blood flowing at 8:31 with his 6th goal of the season. Viktor Stalberg (4) and Anton Volchenkov (5) nabbed the assists.
  • Just four minutes later, Taylor Beck would put Nashville up 2-0 at 12:47, his fifth goal of the season. Paul Gaustad (9) and Eric Nystrom (5) would tally the assists.
  • Nashville would own the second period, sending 11 shots-on-goal compared to Tampa Bay’s eight.

THIRD PERIOD:

  • Ah, but the Lightning weren’t going down without a fight. At just 1:20 into the third, Brett Connolly made up for losing his bout with Bitetto and sent a wrister whizzing past Rinne, his 10th of the season.
  • And, just seven minutes later, Nikita Kucherov would tie the game at 7:50 with a slapshot, his 21st of the season.
  • The Predators just couldn’t muster up another goal (nor could Tampa Bay) so thus the déjà vu of bonus hockey returns.

OVERTIME:

  • In what everyone deemed was going into a shootout, James Neal had other plans. Breaking the puck away with less than 30 seconds left in overtime, Neal connected on a wrister to win the game, his 18th goal of the season. Roman Josi (28) and Matt Cullen (7) assisted in the winner.

NOTEWORTHY:

  • Viktor Stalberg, who was called up to fill in for the ailing Colin Wilson, saw 11:43 of ice time walked away with one point (assist).
  • With the trade deadline fast approaching (March 2nd), will Nashville make a move? No doubt they will, but in order to get something good, you’ve got to trade something good in return (whether that be a player, draft pick, or a combination of both). With no word on Ryan Ellis’ return (and the fact his jersey has no appeared in the GnashVegas auction), my guess is Ellis will be up for trade bait. Yes, he did just recently sign a five-year, $12.5M contract, but remember, we traded Patric Hornqvist off during his five-year contract extension, too (just one year after he signed it).
  • Colin Wilson may be ready to return within the next game or two, as he was practicing with the team yesterday morning.
  • With just ten more wins, Nashville can secure a playoff spot. That, and they are just two points from being the first team to reach 80 points this season. Me gusta.

If you missed last night’s game, then you surely don’t want to miss tomorrow’s against the Winnipeg Jets, a division rival that’s clawing for a playoff spot. Winnipeg is twelve points behind Nashville, but has won their last two; they’ll be looking to knock of the league leader for sure tomorrow night.