In a game that the Predators desperately needed, two soft goals doomed them as they fell to the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2. The losing skid is now four games for the Predators, who are seeing their playoff standing threatened with sloppy play and weak goaltending.
Pekka Rinne got the start for the Predators in net. After a scoreless first period, the BJ's got on the board as Rinne made several good scrambling saves. A weak clearing attempt allowed Columbus to keep the puck in the offensive zone, and Derick Brassard hammered a shot at the net that Rinne initially stopped. However, the puck slid between Rinnes pads and trickled over the goal line. Definitely a goal that Rinne should have stopped.
In the third period, a bogus hooking call sent Jason Arnott to the box, and Columbus executed the power play perfectly. Kristian Huselius buried a beautiful pass across the slot on a play where Rinne didn't have much of a chance.
However, Rinne let in his second soft goal just :39 seconds later as he went down in snow angel mode to stop the puck. Unfortunately, the puck squirted out from under him and Fredrik Modin opportunistically slapped the puck into the open net.
Down 3-0, the Predators looked as if they had completely imploded. Marty Erat changed the momentum as he wired a shot to the far post past a screened Steve Mason. With ten minutes to go, the Predators had life.
Erat fired a shot a Mason, who gave up a big rebound and the puck vacuum, Patric Hornqvist swept up the rebound and rifled it past Mason for a one goal deficit. Hornqvist's goal was his team leading 21st of the year.
The Predators could not get another puck past Mason, and lost their fourth game in a row.
When one looks at these four losses there are some positives and some negatives that emerge. From a positive perspective, the Predators could have won three of these four games. A bad call here, and breakdown there, and instead of a win, there is a loss. Three of the four losses were by one point; three of the four losses could have been wins with a break here or there or the officials not blowing a call. But anyone that has followed hockey knows that there are stretches like this.
The disturbing aspects of these losses are that the team has at times come out flat (think: Toronto); goaltending has at times been suspect (think: Columbus); and there have been periods where the team has just been plain bad in the defensive end (think: all four games). These negative trends have to stop. NOW. this team is not good enough to survive these negatives.
The Predators have lost four in a row. As a fan, this irritates me. As a player, I hope this makes you mad as hell. The way these losses have come about has been unacceptable- sloppy play; weak goaltending; and disappearing offensive output by some of the players that have to produce.
Let this loss burn for a while. Let it make you angry, boys. Let it remind you what got you the wins you have and get you focused back on those positive attributes. You are better than you have been playing lately. I know there are injuries. I know the schedule is a grind right now. It's that way for every team in the league. No one feels sorry for you.
Time to get the hunger back. Time to stoke the fires. Enough losing. Enough with the excuses. Time to start playing Predator hockey. Time to start winning.