Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Blues Best Predators in a 2-1 SO Win

The Nashville Predators dropped a 2-1 shootout decision to the St. Louis Blues in the Bridgestone Arena as Andy McDonald accounted for both the Blues goals. His first tally came just nine seconds into the game as his shot hit the stick of Kevin Klein and fluttered over the glove of netminder Pekka Rinne. McDonald would slip a puck through the pads of Rinne for the game winner in the fifth round of the shoout.

The Predators dominated the game on the shot count with a 30-15 advantage but struggled to solve Blues netminder Jaroslav Halak. The Predators only goal came 22 seconds into the second period as Joel Ward drove strong to the net and fired a shot that came off the pads of Halak to Jerred Smithson in the low slot. Smithson drilled the puck into the open net for the game tying marker.

The Predators had three power plays, but were unable to convert on any of them, failing to even get a shot off on their third attempt with the man advantage. The Predators power play is now clicking at an anemic 9.5% for the season.

After a rather listless first period, the Predators controlled the puck and did an excellent job of limiting the Blues offensive effort. The Predators limited the offensive chances for the Blues and rarely allowed a second chance. Rinne was called upon to make a few quality saves to keep the Blues off the board, but the Predators generally did a great job of neutralizing the Blues offense.

The Predators offense generated some chances, but very few second chances around the net. Halak was only seriously challenged a few times, but was equal to the task.

In the shootout, Halak stopped Cal O'Reilly, Marcel Goc, Martin Erat, and Steve Sullivan as these shooters missed the net with their attempts. Sergei kostitsyn had to hit his attempt to keep the shootout going, but hit the post.

Rinne stopped Matt D'Agostini, Brad Boyes, Eric Johnson, and Alex Steen before McDonald got the game winner.

St. Louis evened their record against the Preds to 2-2 with this win.

Ryan Suter returned to the lineup for the Predators after missing the last two games with a sore knee and the birth of his first child.

The Predator offense generated numerous shots on goal, but few genuinely challenged Halak. This is a team that is struggling offensively and desperately needs to get its confidence back. For all their effort, they could not finish their scoring chances. This is a team that thrives on getting the "dirty" goals, and right now, they are not coming.

There are definitely positive aspects to this game, even with the loss. The team generated chances, and they have to do this night in and night out to win games. Sooner or later, those chances are going in the net. They controlled the puck in the offensive zone, which they did not do in their previous two games. Keep it up, boys, and good things will happen.

Jerred Smithson deserves a stick tap. He is playing solid hockey, aggressive on the forecheck and getting timely goals. He has been the best player on the ice the past few games.

The defensive effort tonight was outstanding. To limit the Blues to 15 shots for the game is a testament to their effort. Having Suter back in the lineup allowed the coaching staff to put solid pairings on the ice and it was obvious that the D partners were comfortable with each other. Hopefully Suter will stay healthy and allow the D to settle in with the current pairings.

The energy that Patric Hornqvist brings to the ice every night is exceptional. Hornqvist tied Shea Weber with 5 shots on goal tonight and was a strong presence around the net.

This was a disappointing loss after the effort tonight. Sometimes that happens. You dominate a game that you should win but come up short on the scoreboard. The focus should be on the effort, which was solid.

The failure of the power play and the offense to get the puck in the net is disappointing. This team has to continue to do what they did tonight; shoot the puck and crash the net. Eventually, the pucks will go in.

The Predators cannot afford efforts like the one in Columbus, where they did not challenge the net at all. Play like you did tonight, and more often than not, the scoreboard will be in your favor.

My three stars of the night:

1. Andy McDonald

2. Jaroslav Halak

3. Jerred Smithson

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