Thursday, December 12, 2013

Predators Shoot Down the Stars 3-1

The Nashville Predators desperately need to string together wins. They also need to start playing well on home ice.

They accomplished both those objectives tonight as they won their second straight game and their first in the last five home games by defeating the Dallas Stars 3-1 at Bridgestone Arena.

Down 1-0 on an Eric Cole goal at 18:07 of the first period, the Predators answered with two power play goals to take a 2-1 lead at the end of the first period.

The Predators went on the power play at 18:45 of the first period as Shawn Horcoff was called for high sticking. Just 7 seconds into the power play, Brenden Dillon was called for delay of game for clearing the puck over the glass.

On the ensuing 5 on 3 power play, David Legwand found Patric Hornqvist in the low slot and Hornqvist blistered a wrist shot over the shoulder of Stars netminder Kari Lehtonen to tie the game at 19:02.

The Predators continued on a 5 on 4 power play, and David Legwand gathered in a rebound of a Roman Josi shot and his shot caromed off Lehtonen and into the net at 19:30.

The Predators extended the lead to 3-1 in the second period as Paul Gaustad took a pass from Colin Wilson and showed great patience as he held the puck and faked Lehtonen to the ice before firing the puck into the open net at 9:14 of the period.

The Predators played good defense, keeping the Stars to the outside for much of the game. The Predators had 22 blocked shots for the game. When the puck did get through, Hutton was solid in net and did a good job of controlling the puck and limiting rebounds.

Some observations:

  • Hutton had a second strong outing, making 33 saves on 34 shots. Hutton tracked the puck well through traffic, limited rebounds, and was positionally sound. Hutton has looked poised and calm in his two starts, and is playing with confidence. This is the kind of play that the Predators need to consistently get into the win column.

  • The Predators have struggled to win when giving up the first goal. Tonight's win was just the third victory of this season when the opponent scores first.

  • The Predators response after the Stars score was critical. The power play was just 1-21 before tonight, and getting the power play on track and productive is essential for the Predators.Tonight, they had good spacing and puck movement, something that had been lacking. When they do that, the power play can be a very effective weapon.

  • I was impressed with the play of Victor Bartley. He logged 22 minutes of ice time and played a very sound game. He was physical and battled down low, moving Stars forwards out of prime scoring areas.

  • Mike Fisher seems to be developing some good chemistry with Viktor Stalberg. They created some scoring chances tonight and have the speed and offensive capability to be dangerous. Hopefully, they will continue to develop that chemistry and produce offensively.

  • Goal-den Goose: Paul Gaustad continues to chip in offensively with his second goal in as many games. Good to see Goose getting his offensive mojo going.
The Predators responded well to the Stars first score and played a solid, 60 minute game. This is the kind of effort that the Predators have to have every night.

With 9 of the next 11 games at home, the Predators need to pile up wins and bring the energy back to the barn.

My three stars:

1. Carter Hutton

2. David Legwand

3. Shea Weber

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