The Detroit Red Wings defeated the Nashville Predators in overtime 4-3. Once again, the Predators failed to close out an opponent when they had a sizable lead, this time a 3-0 advantage.
This is a sad refrain heard by Predator fans too often during the course of this season. The Predators have yet to develop a killer instinct, and once again it bit them in the ass. Keep failing to close out opponents and this team will look back with regret on another wasted effort not only in a single game, but in the playoffs.
It is amazing to me that this team continues to take their foot off the gas when they have an opponent on the ropes. Detroit's first goal occurred when Jonathan Blum failed to clear the puck out of the zone when he was 10 feet from the blueline. Jakub Kindl corralled the puck at the blue line and fired a quick wrister that got past Pekka Rinne, who looked surprised that the puck didn't get out of the zone and was certainly surprised by the shot.
Detroit's second goal came when Blum was trapped on a long shift and could not clear the front of the net. Justin Abdelkader, who has obviously taken lessons from Nik Kronwall when it comes to leaving his feet to launch himself at an opposing player's head, tipped a shot from Brad Stuart and the puck fluttered past Rinne for the second Wings goal.
The Predators had built their 3-0 lead on the strength of a Ryan Suter rocket at 19:00 of the first with the Predators on the power play. The second goal was scored by Marty Erat at 1:42 of the second period off a nice pass from Shea Weber while the Predators were on the power play. Webs found Erat cutting to the net and put a perfect pass on his stick, which Erat re-directed past Jimmy Howard into the open net. The Predators third goal was a shot from Sergei Kostitsyn that he absolutely ripped past Howard at 2:37.
With this lead, the Predators just had to continue their attack and play sound defense. As you already know, that didn't happen.
The Red Wings tied the game at 3:59 of the third with another goal from the head hunting Abdelkader. The Predators had now seen momentum snatched from their hands and Detroit hunting for the win.
The Predators now developed a sense of urgency in their game and created some good scoring chances. Howard made some good saves to keep the Predators off the board. Rinne did the same at his end of the ice, and once again, we were heading to overtime.
Sergei Kostitsyn had another good scoring chance in overtime but could not get the puck past Howard. Detroit capitalized on their one good scoring chance as Dan Cleary got free in front and tipped the puck past Rinne, who was visibly upset after the score.
Perhaps Rinne needs to jack up some of his teammates and get them to play with the same fire that he does. Then I wouldn't be writing the same frustrating storyline about the Predators being unable to hold a lead.
Frankly, there is nothing else to say about the Predators inability to hold a lead in a game. If this team does not develop the mental toughness to keep an opponent down, this storyline is going to be painfully repeated.
Nashville won the season series with Detroit with a 4-1-1 record. The one point gives the Predators 95 points and a record of 42-26-11, currently 6th in the Western Conference.
My three stars:
1. Justin Abdelkader
2. Ryan Suter
3. Jimmy Howard