The Nashville Predators went to the overtime session for the tenth time this season in their contest with the Atlanta Thrashers, falling 3-2. This is a disappointing loss for the Predators as they failed once again to hold a lead going into the third period.
Nashville opened the scoring at 8:39 of the first period as Colin Wilson took a nice drop pass from Sergei Kostitsyn and buried a quick wrister past Atlanta netminder Ondrej Pavalec.
Colin Wilson would whistle a hard wrist shot at the net at 11:39 of the period. Steve Sullivan was parked at the net and tipped it past Pavelec to make it 2-0 Predators.
The Predators controlled play for much of the first period as they were skating hard and forechecking aggressively. They managed to keep the Thrashers back on their heels for much of the period and the play in that period was dictated by the effort of the Predators.
The momentum in the game would start to swing in the second period. Atlanta came out more aggressively and started to out skate the Predators. Ominously, the Predators could not win faceoffs and allowed the Thrashers to control the puck off of draws in both zones. This would come back to haunt the Predators in the course of the game.
Atlanta cleanly won a draw in the Nashville zone and slid the puck back to the point. Tobias Enstrom unleashed a rocket at the net that was tipped by Jim Slater and past Nashville goalie Anders Lindback at 14:25 of the period. Lindback was helpless on the redirect of the puck, and the Thrashers had new energy.
Nashville generated a quality chance while on the penalty kill as Joel Ward was alone in front of the net with Pavelec out of position. Amazingly, Pavelec got his stick on the shot to deny Ward.
The Thrashers came out energized in the third period and generated several quality chances. Lindback had to make some big saves to keep the Birds off the board. This game had the appearance of heading to overtime as the Predators were back on their heels for much of the period.
The premonition about the game being tied and heading to overtime came to fruition at 6:49 of the third period. Shea Weber was in the box for boarding, and Andrew Ladd was able to gather in a rebound of a Dustin Byfuglian shot and put it past a sprawling Lindback. The Predators had killed off 37 straight penalties to that point, including three in this game against the number one power play unit in the NHL in the form of the Thrashers. Unfortunately for the Predators, they played with fire one time too many as the Atlanta power play finally connected.
The Predators has a glorious scoring chance on a give and go with Steve Sullivan and Cal O'Reilly, but Pavelec denied the scoring chance by O'Reilly. This was the last good scoring chance for the Predators in the period.
In overtime, Kevin Klein lost his stick at the blue line and could not clear the puck. Ben Eager controlled the puck and slid a pass to Zach Bogosian, who drilled a shot past Lindback glove side to end the contest at 2:11 of the overtime session.
Once again, the Predators disturbingly failed to show any killer instinct, letting a team up off the mat and blowing a two goal lead to lose the game. The inability of this team to close out an opponent demonstrates a lack of mental toughness, and this is disappointing. The Predators cannot keep giving away leads- and games- and remain in the playoff hunt.
After outshooting the Thrasher 12-7 in the first period, the Predators were outshot 14-7 in the second; 14-9 in the third; and 2-1 in overtime. This is unacceptable. The effort, the aggressiveness of the first period slowly disappeared as the game went on. The Predators were guilty many times of sitting back on their heels, and this style of play came back to bite them.
It's time to stop squandering leads. It's time to stop sitting back and letting the opponent dictate play.
It's time to go balls to the wall for 60 minutes boys.
My three stars:
1. Ondrej Pavelec
2. Zach Bogosian
3. Colin Wilson