Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Slick Win for the Predators

In recent games, the Predators have shown an annoying habit of starting slow, falling behind, and scrambling like mad to get back in the game. In tonight's game against Edmonton, the Preds reversed that trend, jumping out to a 3-0 first period lead en route to a a 5-3  road win.

The Predators opened the scoring at 4:59 of the first period as Shea Weber unleashed a blast from just inside the blue line that beat Oiler goalie Jeff Drouin-Deslaurier. This was Weber's second goal in as many games and his ninth of the year.

Just :28 seconds later, Marcel Goc gathered in a rebound and fired in a backhand for a 2-0 Predators lead.

J.P. Dumont completed the scoring for the Predators with a beautiful wraparound goal at 19:02 of the first, and the Predators had drained the life out of the Oil and the crowd.

Patric Hornqvist notched his 18th goal of the season at 6:40 of the second period. Marcel Goc controlled the puck behind the Edmonton net and skated out and found Hornqvist in the low slot. He ripped a shot past Deslaurier for a 4-0 advantage. That was the end of the night for Deslaurier as Devan Dubnyk took over in net for the Oil.

The game remained scoreless for the remainder of the second period and for the first seven minutes of the third, when Jean-Francois Jacques slid a puck through Pekka Rinne's pads to make the score 4-1 Predators. In looking at that goal, it was certainly stoppable, as Rinne got most of the shot, but it still managed to slide across the goal line.

Ryan Potulny tallied on a power play for the Oilers at 14:29 of the third, and suddenly, the Oil had life.That was snuffed out at the end of a Predator power play as Ryan Jones was in front of the net to gather a rebound. He backhanded the puck past Dubnyk for a 5-2 Predator advantage.

Dustin Penner closed the scoring on a 5 on 3 power play at the 19:39 mark of the third.The Oil hit a post as time expired, and the Predators had their second victory on this three game western Canada swing.

Pekka Rinne got the start for the Predators, and faced 41 shots, stopping 38 for a .926 save percentage. Pekka had several quality saves to keep the Oilers off the board, and did an excellent job of controlling rebounds.

In their last 13 road games, the Predators are 10-2-1. This is outstanding work in hostile environments and is one of the reasons the Predators are in the thick of the playoff race. This team has dramatically improved their road record this season, reflecting the maturity and confidence of this team.

With this win, the Predators now have 59 points, good for fourth in the Western Conference.Central Division leader Chicago has 66 points; Detroit is third in the Central with 52 points.

While this win feels good, and it certainly feels good to say the Predators are now fourth in the West, the fact remains there is a lot of hockey yet to play and the race in the West is a logjam. Fifth place Colorado has 58 points; sixth place Phoenix (Phoenix!) has 57 points; and seventh place Vancouver has 56 points.

The closeness of the West emphasizes that the Predators have to continue to play Predator hockey. This team cannot afford to let up and go on a losing streak. These points are precious.

Another road win; two more points; and one step closer to the playoffs. Yes, there is a lot of hockey to be played. Keep playing Predator hockey, and keep on getting those slick wins.

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