The Preds continued their home domination of Columbus, although it took a shootout to down the BJ's 5-4. Down 3-1 in the second period, it truly looked grim for the home team. But big players show up in big games, and after an 11 game absence due to a concussion, Jason Arnott was the biggest player tonight. The Captain scored twice in the second to tie the game going into the third. More importantly, Arnott's play changed the momentum of the contest back to the Preds. After Radek Bonk put the Preds in the lead 4-3, Columbus came back to tie the game and force overtime. After a scoreless OT, Pekka Rinne was stellar in the shootout, stopping all three shooters for Columbus. The much maligned Ville Koistinen sealed the win with a beautiful backhander for the only score in the shootout and the Preds picked up a precious two points. They are now tied with St. Louis in points, but hold the 8th spot by virtue of having one more win than the Blues.
This is a game that could have easily fallen in to the loss column. After a Shea Weber goal tied the game at one, Columbus answered with the next two goals, both of which came from defensive breakdowns in front of Rinne. This was the time of the game where someone had to step up for the Preds, and the line of Arnott, Sullivan, and Dumont did just that, firing pucks at Steve Mason all night. Arnie's goals resulted from going to the net, and he was rewarded for his efforts. This line clicked all night, moving the puck well and creating numerous scoring chances. The Preds seemed to feed off that energy, playing more physical than the BJ's, and in one stretch of the third, holding Columbus without a shot on goal for nearly ten minutes. Weber and Hamhuis were monsters on the blue line tonight, and it is difficult to put a value on the physical play that Jordin Tootoo brings every game. His checks forced several turnovers and he was a disruptive presence to the opposing team.
A word about Mike Commodore's crosscheck and subsequent chirping at Radek Bonk at the end of the overtime period. That was chickens#*t. Commodore was owned all night and was a minus 1, and decides to take a cheap shot when he knows there is no opportunity for retribution. Very manly indeed.
And now a word about Ville Koistinen. Obviously, he has spent some time in the doghouse, and it would have been easy to sulk about that fact. Instead, Koistinen excelled when he was given the opportunity. Koistenin started the game as a forward and moved back to the blue line pairing up with Kevin Klein. Koistinen was steady on the blue line and played well on the power play. Barry Trotz said in his post game remarks about Koistinen that as a player, you never know when it will be your time to step up. Tonight was Koistinen's time. After riding the bench for a significant amount of time this season, he stepped on the ice and played a solid game. His shootout winner was a thing of beauty. A great contribution from a guy that hasn't had a lot of opportunities.
Again, what can you say about the Preds 7th man. Once again, you came up big when the team needed you.
The Preds now have 86 points and sit in 8th place. The season is now a three game season for the Preds. Every game requires heart, character, and grit. Leave it all on the ice boys. This is your time. We believe in you.