Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Predators Stop Losing Streak, Romp Over the Rangers 4-1

The New York Rangers left the ice to boos from the home crowd at Madison Square Garden at the end of the first period of their game against the Nashville Predators.

The crowd was agitated because the Predators had a 2-0 lead against the home team. Henrik Lundqvist had given up two goals on 6 shots. The first Predators goal had come on some nice passing in the low slot between David Legwand, Patric Hornqvist, and Nick Spaling. Spaling was the beneficiary of that effort and he buried a snap shot over the shoulder of Lundqvist at 13:45 of the first period.

The Predators took a 2-0 lead as Rich Clune took a pass from Matt Hendricks and beat Lundqvist with a backhand on a good drive to the net at 17:52.

Carter Hutton, getting his first start in net in 13 games, turned away all 10 shots he faced in the first period.

The Rangers cut the lead to 2-1 at 6:38 of the second period as the Predators got caught in a bad line change, which opened the ice up for Rick Nash. Nash got free down low and beat Hutton in close with a back hand.

The Predators were going to need a strong third period to break their five game losing streak. Through two periods, they had done a good job of attacking the Rangers net and forcing Lundqvist to make some good saves.

They were going to have to keep up that effort in the third period.

The Predators did just that 2:38 into the third period as Paul Gaustad drove below the goal line and drew two Ranger defenders to him. He slipped the puck out into the slot where Matt Hendricks controlled the puck and lifted it over a sprawling Lundqvist to make it 3-1.

The Predators were getting scoring from their fourth line, which had accounted for two goals in this contest. This is something that the Predators have been lacking during their losing streak.

After this goal, both teams went back and forth at each other with good rushes and scoring chances, but both netminders were able to keep the puck out of the net.

Paul Gaustad sealed the win for the Predators with an empty net goal at 18:54.

The Predators had snapped their five game losing streak with a solid 4-1 win.

Some observations:

  • Carter Hutton looked good in net. He was poised, moved well, and was positionally sound. Hutton appeared to have his confidence shaken after a few rough starts, and apparently had lost the confidence of the coaching staff as he sat for 13 games. Hopefully this solid outing will help his confidence and get him back on track. The Predators need some strong efforts by Hutton. and this 28 save effort is a good way to get his game going.

  • The effort by the Gaustad, Clune, and Hendricks line was exceptional. These guys had a nose for the net and great jump in their game. The Predators need contributions from all lines, which they had not been getting, and to get this effort from the fourth line guys was key to securing this win. They need to build on this momentum and establish consistency in their game.

  • The defense in front of Hutton played well. There had been too many holes in the coverage in the defensive zone during this losing streak. Tonight, the blue liners played sound defense and did a good job of protecting Hutton. Once again, Shea Weber and Roman Josi did yeoman's work,  with Weber logging 30:25 of ice time and Josi 29:20. Victor Bartley had 19:02 of ice time, while surprisingly, Seth Jones logged only 9:29.

  • The Predators had 26 shots on net, and all lines did a good job of creating some opportunities. Colin Wilson, Mike Fisher, and Gabriel Bourque each had one shot on net, and the Predators need to get these guys rolling. They have too much talent not to produce some shots on goal and some scoring opportunities.
This was a solid, 60 minute game by the Predators.

The type of game they needed to break the losing streak. They showed a nose for the net and a willingness to shot the puck and create some offensive chances.

This kind of effort has to continue for the Predators to win games.

My three stars:

1. Paul Gaustad

2. Matt Hendricks

3. Carter Hutton

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