Predators Knock off Last Undefeated Team in SO

Craig Smith does not like the doghouse.

Now that shootouts are becoming the norm for the Predators, it is only natural that they would eventually get pretty good at them (thankfully). The Predators have only notched one regulation win, the other two being settled in a shootout. Nashville seems to be a freak of nature in the league this season, with that one regulation win, yet still holding their own with nine points. However, they are still last in the league in offense (gasp) and are the only team not to have a win on home ice, thus far (excuse me, they’ve been on a long ass road trip, thank you). Even with their setbacks and chug-a-lug start, the Predators are hanging in there, trying desperately to get a bit of momentum to power through this short, but backbreaking season. Knocking the last remaining undefeated team off its high horse? Very good start. Here are the highlights from Saturday’s game in San Jose:

KEY POINTS:

  • Jonathon Blum hit the ice Saturday night, his first steps on NHL ice since December of 2011. Blummer stepped up to replace the ailing Martin Erat, who took a puck to the ankle/foot during practice on Friday. Don’t expect Marty’s injury to be as bench-warming as Hornqvist’s, however.  Brian McGrattan remains on the scratched list.
  • The first and second period’s produced zero goals for either side, but action remained on high as both teams tore out of the gate on fire. San Jose out-shot Nashville in both periods, but Pekka remained on point, keeping the Sharks at bay and preventing them from continuing their undefeated streak.
  • Something sparked the Predators in the third, with Sergei Kostitsyn notching his first goal of the season with just 59 seconds on the clock. His wrister was assisted by Colin Wilson, his first assist of the season.
  • The Predators would hold the Sharks back until a careless mistake by the Predators in the form of a “too many men on ice” penalty stopped them in their tracks, allowing Martin Havlat to gain his third goal of the season. The Predators would out-shoot the Sharks nine to seven in the third period.
  • As usual, overtime was uneventful, though the Predators continued to out-shoot the Sharks, this time two to one. While that isn’t much, it is refreshing to see the Predators take a few shots every now and then.

SHOOTOUT SUMMARY:

  • SAN JOSE – Michal Handzus – SAVE
  • NASHVILLE – David Legwand – SAVE
  • SAN JOSE – Ryane Clowe – SAVE
  • NASHVILLE – Craig Smith – GOAL
  • SAN JOSE – Joe Pavelski – SAVE

Now, what were we saying in the last post? Maybe Sergei dropping down to the third line and Craig finding himself in Trotz’s doghouse would possible motivate them to prove their worth? Looks like, so far, it’s doing the trick. Another face to commend is Jonathon Blum – for someone who hasn’t been in a Predators sweater in over a year, he didn’t bat an eyelash when it was his time to step up.

Penalties were abound in this game, a usual thorn in Nashville’s side. Here are the five penalty takers:

  1. Brandon Yip – 0:59, 1st Period – Hooking
  2. Jonathon Blum – 16:15, 1st Period – Interference
  3. Mike Fisher – 6:05, 2nd Period – Slashing
  4. David Legwand – 17:01, 2nd Period – Tripping
  5. Craig Smith – 12:26, 3rd Period – Too Many Men on Ice

Though we are happy the Predators are getting points, wether they win or lose in the shootouts, they cannot slide their way to the Stanley Cup on shootout points alone. The Predators are nearing the cliff of safety points and are going to have to nab some regulation wins if they want to continue pushing towards the Cup.

The Predators will finish out their road trip tomorrow against the nagging St. Louis Blues, an opponent that hasn’t been as kind to the Predators thus far.

NEW TO SMASHVILLE:
102.5 THE GAME and FIFTH THIRD BANK present the all-new Kevin Klein Radio Show, starting this Wednesday (2/6) at 6PM at Dave & Buster’s at Opry Mills! Kevin’s first guest of the season will be goaltender, Pekka Rinne! Someone had to replace Tootoo, right?

Until tomorrow,
GO PREDS

The Lineup Shuffle: Who’s getting Switched Around?

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Is this Colin Wilson’s time to shine?

Looks like Trotzy is trying out some new lineups in hopes of a boost some offensive action i.e. goals and maybe – going out on a limb here – a win or two.

Here are the new lines:
Colin Wilson – Mike Fisher – Martin Erat
Brandon Yip – David Legwand – Gabriel Bourque
Nick Spaling – Craig Smith – Sergei Kostitsyn
Matt Halischuk – Paul Gaustad – Rich Clune

Huge step forward for Colin Wilson who, not even a year ago was trying to claw his way out of Trotz’s doghouse. Huge step backwards for Sergei Kostitsyn who, as we all know, just isn’t quite getting the whole “shoot the puck because you can score” concept. Colin is creative on the ice, which may just be exactly what the Preds need to get a move on in this season.

Trotz has also thrown around the idea of bringing up a few prospects from Milwaukee, but no confirmation as of yet.

The Predators take on the defending Stanley Cup champs, the L.A. Kings, tomorrow night at 9:30 CT.

Preds fall to Ducks 3-2 in 3rd Shootout of Season

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Gill putting the Ducks in their place.

Shootout. The third in just five games. The Predators are 0-3 on the shootout thus far.
After the Ducks’ embarrassing 5-0 shutout against the Canucks the night before, it is not surprising the Ducks weren’t forgetting what time the game started tonight. However, unlike Thursday in St. Louis, Nashville came out strong, though both sides stayed evenly matched when it came to shots on goal throughout the game. The Predators played much better and much more level-headed compared to Thursday, but the Ducks just weren’t going to suffer two nasty losses in a row. Both teams were licking the wounds of a shutout, but only one could savor sweet victory. Here are the highlights from tonight’s game in the Golden State:

KEY POINTS:

  • Paul Gaustad returned to the lineup after missing the last two games. Jonathon Blum and Brian McGrattan remained on the scratched list, along with Matt Halischuk.
  • Brandon Yip struck gold first with a backhanded goal past Viktor Fasth, who made his NHL debut during tonight’s game. Yip’s first goal of the season was unassisted.
  • The Predators would hold down the fort throughout the remainder of the first and for all of the second, except for Bobby Ryan notching his first goal of the season with just over 30 seconds left in the second to tie the game.
  • David Legwand would seal his second goal of the season at 10:09 in the third with a backhander, assisted by Kevin Klein (second assist) and Gabriel Bourque (first assist).
  • Daniel Winnik would respond moments later with his fifth goal of the season, a tip-in past Pekka to tie the game once again.

Overtime proved to be a heated match, but neither side could find the sweet spot to end the game, thus throwing the game into a shootout, the Predators’ apparent mortal enemy.

SHOOTOUT SUMMARY:

NASHVILLE – Martin Erat – SAVE
ANAHEIM – Ryan Getzlaf – SAVE
NASHVILLE – Mike Fisher – SAVE
ANAHEIM – Corey Perry – GOAL
NASHVILLE – David Legwand – SAVE

Penalties, yet again, plagued the Predators tonight. With Nashville’s four and Anaheim’s two, the Predators gave the Ducks more chances to advance. Luckily, the Ducks just couldn’t nail that powerplay goal. Here are the four guys who like the box a little too much:

1. Nick Spaling – 6:28 1st Period – Slashing
2. Craig Smith – 16:56 1st Period – Throwing Stick*
3. Brandon Yip – 9:16 2nd Period – Boarding
4. Hal Gill – 5:17 3rd Period – Tripping

*Rule 10.3 – “A player will be penalized if he throws, tosses, slides or shoots a stick to a teammate on the ice.” Yea, it’s real.

  • Patric Hörnqvist suffered a lower-body injury tonight during the third period, first from taking a Shea Weber slapshot to the leg and another hit against the boards from Ryan Getzlaf. Per Coach Trotz, Patric will be out indefinitely and most likely will be on a plane back to Nashville to be examined by the team doctors. Although a tremendous loss for a struggling team, Patric’s healing time may lead to more opportunities for players such as Colin Wilson.
  • Craig Smith looks like he has made his way into Trotz’s infamous “dog house”, with a very noticeable lack of ice time with one shift in the second period. There will be no sending him to Milwaukee, however, as that would expose him to waivers. After his senseless penalty, Smith may not see the ice for a while. Colin Wilson’s heart may be smiling, as he is most notable for being Trotz’s go-to player to punish.

Rough beginning to the season for the Preds, but don’t jump ship just yet, fellow Preds fans. Though Nashville does not have the luxury of an entire season to gain momentum, they still have time, if they push themselves to victory. It can be done, but they cannot take their time. Do not turn on Peks, either. Though he hasn’t quite reached his typical Finnish phenom status, he isn’t the problem. Yes, shootouts are not his strong suite, but he is not the only factor that leads to a shootout scenario.

The Predators wander out to Phoenix to take on the Coyotes on their turf, another game that could prove rough for the Predators. Then again, they may pull some confidence from midair and nab a much-needed win. Preds and Coyotes match up Monday, January 28 at 8 PM.

Keep Calm and Go Preds.

Preds Rally Back, Fall Short to Blackhawks 5-4

Alexander Radulov, David Legwand, & Roman Josi fight puck control.

After the captivating win over the Red Wings in Detroit last night, the Predators hit the road (err, airways?) with the wind in their sails, banking on another win tonight against Chicago at home in Nashville. In the six games that Nashville and Chicago have played one another, Chicago was only able to sneak one passed this Predators, and even then, it was in OT. However, after completely humiliating the Blackhawks in Chicago last Sunday 6-1, Chicago was chomping at the bit to bestow the same humiliation on the Predators in Nashville. Nashville has already sealed their playoff spot, but Chicago is still clawing up that ladder. With a win in Nashville, the Blackhawks would get their coveted playoff spot… even more reason to win tonight.

KEY POINTS:

  • The scratched list was long once again tonight, with Colin Wilson, Brian McGrattan, Jack Hillen, Craig Smith, and Ryan Ellis making the list. Although he returned briefly, Colin seems to be still suffering from a “groin” injury. With as well as Bourque and the return of Roman Josi, Craig Smith might be taking a few games off for a while.
  • Chicago drew blood first at 3:25 in the first with a power play goal from Patrick Sharp, his 32nd goal of the season. His back-hander passed Pekka would be the only goal of the first period.
  • Chicago wasted no time in the 2nd Period either, with Dave Bolland sinking another power play goal at 1:05 for his 19th goal of the season.
  • Patrick Kane would put Chicago up 3-0 at 6:50 with a wrist shot passed Pekka for his 21st goal of the season.
  • Viktor Stalberg would only fuel the fire at 8:35, sinking his 20th goal of the season in the 2nd Period.
  • At 9:29, the Predators finally found their groove and Martin Erat hit a wrist shot passed Corey Crawford for his 19th goal of the season. Ryan Suter (37th assist) and Mike Fisher (26th assist) picked up the assists on the power play goal.
  • Nashville would continue to fire back, with a snap shot goal from Shea Weber, his 18th goal of the season. Ryan Suter picked up his 38th assist along with Andrei Kostitsyn (18th assist).
  • The 3rd Period started out in favor of the Predators, with a backhanded goal from Alexander Radulov, his first goal at home after returning to Nashville (3rd goal of the season). David Legwand (33rd assist) and Kevin Klein (15th assist) picked up the assists on A-Rad’s goal.
  • Shea Weber would pick up his second goal of the night at 7:10 on the power play, his 19th goal of the season. Ryan Suter picked up his third assist of the night (39th assist) and David Legwand picked up his second (34th assist) of the night.
  • Although tied 4-4, Chicago wasn’t going to let Nashville sneak passed yet again and, at 8:19, Brent Seabrook sent a snap shot passed Pekka Rinne, putting the Blackhawks up by one (his 9th goal of the season).
  • It’s hard for Trotzie to decide whether to sit Pekka on nights like tonight, especially after playing such a physical game like last night in Detroit. Unfortunately, since Detroit and Chicago are both vying for potential playoff spots, Nashville can’t afford but anything but the best in front of their net. It was clear Peks was drained from last night’s game, but he still made an incredible effort, blocking 32 of 37 shots on goal. The Predators were, of course, out-shot 33 to 37, but you can’t help but be impressed by their effort to come back late in the 2nd Period and tying the game after being down 4-0.
  • Penalties were Nashville’s downfall tonight (well, along with some other elements). Chicago gave Nashville four power play chances, two of which the Predators were able to capitalize on. Nashville, on the other hand, gave Chicago six power play chances, two of which Chicago used to their advantage. Okay, so technically, Nashville used their power plays better, but penalties hurt nonetheless. Here are your penalty box boppers:
  1. Matt Halischuk – 1:38 1st Period – Hi-Sticking
  2. Paul Gaustad – 10:27 1st Period – Roughing
  3. David Legwand – 19:48 1st Period – Hooking
  4. Martin Erat – 13:13 2nd Period – Slashing
  5. Gabriel Bourque – 16:46 2nd Period – Tripping
  6. Alexander Radulov – 19:52 3rd Period – Hooking

A rough loss for Nashville tonight at home, allowing the Blackhawks to finally clinch their own playoff spot. However, considering Nashville has beaten the Blackhawks four times out six (gaining a point from one loss in overtime), you have give credit to the Predators for proving to be the better team overall this season. After coming back from being down by four goals, you have to admit, even after whipping Detroit’s butt last night, the Predators still had some kick in their step.

The Predators finish up the remainder of the regular season this week, with the Minnesota Wild coming in on Tuesday and the Dallas Stars venturing to Nashville on Thursday. The Predators last regular season game is on Saturday against the Colorado Avalanche in Denver.

Until then,
GO PREDS.

(Photo credit: John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)