Thursday, January 12, 2012

Predators Fight Back for a 3-2 OT Win Over the Avalanche

The Nashville Predators faced the Colorado Avalanche for the second of their back to back games at the Bridgestone Arena, and this game was a mirror image of their first meeting. The difference this time was that Colorado returned the favor and dominated the Predators in the first period en route to a 2-0 lead. The Predators, unlike the Avalanche in the previous game, fought back to take a 3-2 overtime victory.

The Avs were aided by two goals that Nashville netminder Pekka Rinne would like to have back.

The first occurred on a seemingly harmless play, as Rinne had the puck in front of his net with plenty of time to clear it. Rather than kick it over to a defenseman, Rinne chose to try to get the puck through the middle of the ice to Marty Erat. Rinne's clearing attempt was intercepted by Ryan O'Reilly and he buried the puck from the low slot to give the Avalanche a 1-0 lead at 6:09 of the first period.

At that point, the Avs had out shot the Predators 5-4. To give you an idea of their dominance throughout the period, the Avalanche out shot the Predators 15-7.

Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado's rookie phenom, made it 2-0 with a shot off the boards that blew past Rinne through the five hole at 12:17. Landeskog got off a good shot from a difficult angle that seemed to surprise Rinne and went right between his legs into the back of the net. Certainly a goal that Rinne would not normally let in.

Colorado netminder J. S. Giguere had very little work in the first period, a circumstance that had to change if the Predators were going to get back into the contest.

Down 2-0 and outplayed at the end of one period, it did not look good for the Predators.

Yeti (see what I did there- the Avs have a Yeti on their shoulder patch), the Predators would come out in the second period and would start to fight their way back into the contest.

Colorado did a good job of forcing the puck deep and trapping all night. The Predators responded by being patient and moving the puck to break the trap and started to work the puck deep into the offensive zone and create some chances.

The Predators finally got on the board when Matt Halischuk fought for the puck behind the boards and came around the net and attempted a wrap-around shot. Giguere blocked the shot with his pad, but the rebound came into the low slot. David Legwand was crashing the net and got the puck cleanly on his stick and blistered a wrist shot over the shoulder to Giguere to make it 2-1 at 11:02 of the second.

There was no more scoring in the second period, yeti (okay- that's abominable) it felt as if the momentum had shifted to the Predators, and if they could tie the game, they would win it. The Predators effort in the second period was much better, as the peppered Giguere with 14 shots, to just 7 for Colorado.

Get that tying goal, and the game would go the Predators way.

That tying goal would come at 8:48 of the third period. Sergei Kositisyn broke in and unleashed a wicked wrister from just inside the face off circle and through the legs of the defender that was back. Giguere reacted as the puck sailed over his shoulder and hit the back of the net. This was a great shot, with Kostitsyn using the defender as a screen, and the shot was perfectly placed to the top shelf.

The Predators were flying now, and generated some great scoring chances, but just could not get the puck past Giguere for the regulation winner. The Predators threw 12 shots on net, while the Avalanche managed 7.

Heading to overtime, the Predators controlled the face off and got the puck into the Avalanche zone. David Legwand took a shot from the high slot, and Giguere could not control the rebound, which bounced into the low slot. Legwand followed his shot, and lifted over Giguere for the game winning goal 26 seconds into overtime.

For the Predators, this win showed the emerging confidence that this team has. Down early and off some bad goals, the Predators kept fighting their way back into this game. Rinne settled down and made some big saves as the game wore on. The forwards for the Predators kept attacking, kept chipping away, and eventually outworked and prevailed.

That is character.

This is a team the Predators need to beat. With this win, the Predators extended their lead over Colorado to 4 points. It is important to take care of business against the teams that are chasing you, and although the Predators started slowly, they did that.

The Predators overcame a slow start, some shaky goaltending early in the contest, and an 0 for 6 power play effort. Yet (no yeti) they found a way to win.

And there is nothing abominable about that.

My three stars:

1. David Legwand

2. Sergei Kostitsyn

3. Ryan O'Reilly

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