Monday, February 18, 2013

Predators Offensive Outburst Not Enough, Fall to Avalanche 6-5

The Nashville Predators faced off against the Colorado Avalanche in a matinee matchup in the Mile High City. The Predators were looking to continue their strong offensive effort of late, and that effort would be buttressed by the return of Patric Hornqvist who was back in the line up after missing several weeks with a knee injury.

Chris Mason got the start for the Predators while the Avalanche has Semyon Varlamov in net.

The Avalanche have struggled, and it was important for the Predators to get off to a strong start and take the Avs out of the game early.

That strong start did not materialize as the Avalanche got on the board first with a strange goal. Aaron Palushaj shot the puck off the end board from inside the Predators blue line. The puck caromed back at Mason and hist his left pad. When Mason realized that the puck was in his skates, he tried to squeeze his pads together and in the process kicked the puck into the net at 3:43 of the first period.

The Avalanche made it 2-0 on the power play as Tyson Barrie took a shot from the blue line that trickled through a screened Mason's pads at 9:30 of the first.

The Predators continued to stick to their formula of getting shots and traffic to net, and it paid off as the Predators tallied on the power play. Sergei Kostitsyn gathered in a rebound of a Colin Wilson shot that hit Craig Smith in front of the net and put the puck top shelf over a prone Varlamov to make it 2-1 at 17:20 of the first period.

The Predators ended the first period on a power play, and would nearly tie the game on a rebound attempt by Roman Josi. Varlamov made the stop, but the Predators would have 1:27 of power play time to begin the second period.

The Predators out shot the Avalanche 9-8 in the first period.

There had already been one strange goal in the contest for the Avalanche, but they got a gift goal on an absolutely horribly blown goal by the officials. Matt Duchene took a pass and was 3 feet offside in the Predators zone. Duchene skated in when the the defense relaxed and roofed a shot over Mason's should. Inexplicably the linesmen and the refs said they didn't see the blatant offside and gave the goal to the Avs to make it 3-1 at 3:18 of the second period.

The Predators cut the deficit to 3-2 as Shea Weber pinched down from the blue line and took a pass from Sergei Kostitsyn and took a shot that was tipped by Mike Fisher that beat Varlamov 5 hole for his thirdd goal of the season at 10:16.

That lead lasted all of 50 seconds as the Predators got caught in a bad change and lost Chuck Kobesew in the high slot. He beat Mason high glove side to make it 4-2 Avs at 11:06.

Once again, the Predators cut the lead to 1 as Marty Erat found Colin Wilson cruising doen the slot and hit him with a perfect pass. Wilson made a great fake and beat Varlamov 5 hole off the backhand at 13:17

The Predators could not seem to enjoy their success as Paul Stastny got free at the side of the net and had 3 whacks at the puck before finally putting the puck past Mason to make it 5-3 at13:33

The Avs continued to do damage to the Predators as on the ensuing face off from center ice, the puck went deep and Shea Weber retrieved it in the corner. Matt Duchene stole the puck and found Jamie McGinn, who blistered a shot over Mason's shoulder just 13 seconds after the previous Avalanche tally.

With the score 6-3, that was all for Chris Mason and Pekka Rinne entered the game.

Jonathan Blum made it 6-4 as his shot from the blue line hit the skate of Jan Heida and re-directed past Varlamov at 19:10 of the second period.

7 goals in the second period, 4 for the Avs and 3 for the Preds.

Wild game? Certainly a strange one.

The Avs held a 23-21 shot advantage through 2 periods, and the way this game has gone, it was still a wide open contest. Could the Predators get 3 goals in the third? The way this game was going, anything was possible.

Desperate to get back in the game, the Predators pressed and created some great chances in the third Period. Varlamov stopped Patric Hornqvist on a breakaway, and Varly came up with some big saves as the Predators worked the puck to get quality shots from in close.

It took most of the Period, but the Predators scored at 18:42 with Rinne on the bench and the extra attacker on the ice. Patric Hornqvist tried a wraparound and the rebound came out to Shea Weber just inside the face off circle. Weber deposited the puck just under the crossbar to make it 6-5.

The Avalanche held off the final flurry from the Predators and escaped with the victory.

The Predators out shot the Avs 17-5 in the third period and 38-28 for the game.

Some observations:

  • The Predators were the victims of an unfortunate bounce and a horrible call. Even with that, they battled and did not back down. This is a strong indication of the drive and character of this team, which has grown significantly from some early season games where their compete level was lacking.
  • It was good to see the offense get pucks and traffic to the net. This is how this team has to score, and they have embraced that ethic. 
  •  Hall Gill was scratched, which changed the defensive pairings. The Predators had two glaring defensive breakdowns that cost them two quick goals in the second period. The change in the pairings- along with a brutal line change on the goal by Kobesew- may be partly to blame for the breakdowns.
  • Good to see Fisher and Weber notch goals. The team desperately needs their offensive production.
Strange to say the least is how to describe this game. Missed opportunity is apropos.

The Predators have to re-group and bring the effort they did in the third period against the Red Wings tomorrow night.

Hopefully, nothing strange happens.

My three stars:

1. Seymon Varlamov

2. Aaron Palushaj

3. Sergei Kostitsyn

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