Winners of six straight games, the Nashville Predators rolled into Sunrise, Florida looking to extend that streak against the Florida Panthers. The Predators had built their winning streak with an aggressive forecheck, solid defense, and an offense that generated numerous opportunistic scoring chances. Unfortunately for the Predators, those traits were absent in a 3-2 loss.
At best, the Predators were a sluggish group that had no jump and were out skated all night by the hungrier Panthers. Florida controlled the neutral zone and refused to allow the Predators easy entry into the offensive zone. Once in the offensive zone, the Panthers did a great job of limiting the Predators offensive chances.
All in all, it was a weak effort by the Predators in a game they should have won.
The Panthers opened the scoring at at 3:22 of the first period as the Panthers Radek Dvorak capped off a nice 2 on 1, taking a pass from Marty Reasoner and burying a shot by Nashville netminder Pekka Rinne.
The Predators answered at 10:50 of the first period as David Legwand did a great job of controlling the puck behind the Panthers net. He got a pass to Colin Wilson in the low slot and Wilson made no mistake with a quick wrister that beat Scott Clemmensen. On the play, Legwand fought to control the puck and showed great strength on the puck to make the play to Wilson.
The second period was a scoreless one, but not for lack of effort by the Panthers. They generated some quality scoring chances and challenged Rinne. Fortunately for the Predators, he was equal to the task.
Offensively, the Predators stunk. Puck control was non-existent and they rarely had an flow in the offensive zone. This was in part due to the Panthers effort. They out skated the Predators all night. Part was due to a half hearted effort by the Predators.
In the third period, the Predators took a 2-1 lead as David Legwand scored on a nice rush to the net at 10:02. Legwand drove wide and let a shot go from just inside the face off circle that beat Clemmensen to the far side post.
That lead was short lived as the Panthers Rostislav Olesz scored his third goal of the season 13:34. That goal energized the Panthers, and they swarmed the Nashville net. Their efforts were rewarded just over two minutes later as Rinne could not control a rebound of a shot through traffic and David Booth buried a second chance shot at 15:48.
The Predators could not get anything past Clemmensen even with the extra attacker on the ice, and the sic game winning streak ended with a sad whimper.
Streaks end, whether they are winning streaks or losing streaks. The disappointing aspect of this loss is the lack of effort by the Predators. It goes without saying that when the Predators skate hard, they can win most any game. Seldom was the effort necessary to put the Panthers away in this contest. this team is not good enough to step on the ice and expect to just win a game. They have to work at it, and the work ethic was missing in this contest.
The Predators now face a weekend back to back with the Chicago Blackhawks. Put forth this kind of effort, and the results will be embarrassing.
It will be critical for the Predators to play solid hockey in these upcoming contests and not start the wrong kind of streak.
That will take a better effort than you brought tonight.
My three stars:
1. David Booth
2. David Legwand
3. Rostislav Olesz