Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Predators End Road Trip With a Thud, Fall to the Wild 2-0

The Nashville Predators traveled to the Xcel Energy Center to face the Minnesota Wild seeking to win their third game of a three game road trip.

Pekka Rinne was in net for the Predators and the Wild had Josh Harding between the pipes.

The Predators scratched Filip Forsberg and inserted Rich Clune into the line up. The Predators were once again without the services of Mike Fisher, who continues to deal with a lower body injury.

Both teams are fast and both like to play an up tempo game. The Wild had a decided advantage in the early going of the game as the Wild had the Predators back on their heels and controlled the puck in the offensive zone for most of the first part of the period. Thanks to two power plays, the Wild out shot the Predators 13-2 past the midway mark. Pekka Rinne was sharp and made some outstanding saves to keep the Wild off the board.

The first period was scoreless, but the Wild dominated the Predators and it was fortunate that the Predators survived the period. The Wild out shot the Predators 13-3.

The second period was not much better for the Predators. The Wild had the better scoring chances and controlled the puck once again for much of the period.

The Wild finally broke through at 18:53 of the second as Justin Fontaine got his stick on a rebound given up by Rinne  of a Clayton Stoner shot and was able to flip the puck over his shoulder to give the Wild a 1-0 lead. The defense was caught out of position on the play and gave Fontaine an unimpeded path to the front of the net.

The Wild out shot the Predators 11-6 in the second period.

The Predators had been out skated and out worked through 40 minutes. The Predators were going to have to dig down and begin skating and pressuring Harding to have a chance to claw back into this game.

The Predators did not mount much offense in the third period. With Rinne pulled for an extra attacker in the final minute, the Predators swarmed the net and got a puck behind Harding but it was swept off the goal line by Jared Spurgeon.

Jason Pominville sealed the win for the Wild with an empty net goal at 19:35 to make the final score 2-0.

Some observations:

  • The Predators were out worked the entire game. They were outshot 29-15 and the Wild controlled play throughout. Whether it was fatigue or just a failure to respond, this was the most disappointing game the team has played in a while.

  • Puck support in the offensive zone was virtually non-existent all night. The Predators did not do a good job of getting the puck deep, but when they did, the puck support was not there. This caused numerous turnovers and limited the offensive chances.

  • Still waiting for some offense from Viktor Stalberg.

  • Colin Wilson was a non-factor tonight. No shots on goal and nothing in the offensive zone.

  • Rinne was very good tonight. He had pucks coming at him from all angles tonight and made some excellent saves. Unfortunately, he got no offensive support.
As much as this game was a stinker, it is important to keep this road trip in perspective. The Predators picked up 4 out of  a possible 6 points and except for tonight's effort, played some good hockey.

The Predators will have a chance to put this one behind them on Thursday night when they face the Jets at Bridgestone Arena.

My three stars:

1. Justin Fontaine

2. Pekka Rinne

3. Josh Harding

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