Monday, December 30, 2013

Wilson, Fisher Lead Predators to Win Over the Wings

The Nashville Predators have discovered the key to almost guaranteeing a win.

Score first.

They did just that, scoring on their first shot of the game to defeat the Detroit Red Wings 6-4 in a wild contest at Bridgestone Arena. When scoring first, the Predators are 15-1-2.

The Predators swept the season series with their former division rivals.

Colin Wilson scored on a shot from the high slot that beat Wings netminder Jimmy Howard to the glove side at 1:54 of the first period.

The Wings answered at 3:00 of the period as Justin Abdelkader walked out from behind of the net and lifted a backhand over the shoulder of Predators goaltender Marek Mazanec.

Craig Smith gave the Predators a 2-1 lead at 9:50 of the first period as he carried the puck into the zone on a 3 on 2 break. Smith fired a wicked wrist shot that beat Howard short side.

Nick Spaling tallied at 4:24 of the second period to make it 3-1 for the Predators. He wired a shot from the face off circle over the glove of Howard off a rush.

Going into the third period, everyone in the building knew that the Wings would make a run. They started that run just 35 seconds into the period as Pavel Datsyuk blistered a one timer past Mazanec to make the score 3-2.

Mike Fisher answered that goal at 5:50 of the third as Wilson carried the puck around the back of the net and found Fisher alone at the side of the net. Fisher buried the puck into the open net to make it 4-2.

Kyle Quincey scored at 11:30 of the third to make it 4-3, and was this the start of the Wings run to get back in the game?


Colin Wilson scored just 37 seconds later to make it 5-3 and seize momentum back from the Wings.

The Wings were not done, though. With the wings on a power play, Patrick Eaves gathered in a rebound on the off side of the defense and fired the puck into the open net to make it 5-4 at 14:52.

With Howard off for an extra attacker and the Predators on a power play, Roman Josi buried an empty net goal to make it 6-4 at 19:41 and secure the win for the Predators.

Some observations:

  • Punch and counter punch. The Predators struck first and built a lead and made the wings play catch up all night. More importantly, the Predators did not let the Wings seize the momentum and control of the game. They answered every challenge and push back from the Wings. This is an aspect of the Predators game that had been lacking during some of their losing skids, and it was good to see the response by the Predators.

  • Kinda nice to see a score on the first shot of the game. By the Predators.

  • Mike Fisher has been playing some of his best hockey since joining the Predators. He is playing with good jump and confidence and has been going hard to the net. His offensive production is certainly welcome- he has 6 points in his last two games- but his effort and his grit are leading the team. He continues to play a controlled physical game, and tonight refused to take the crap that Abdelkader was trying dish out, responding by dropping the gloves. Fisher is showing that he is a leader by his level of play, and now it appears that the team is following his example.

  • Jimmy Howard was making his first start in three weeks since spraining his knee. The Predators did what they needed to do by putting pressure on Howard by bringing traffic to the net and firing 29 shots on goal.

  • Colin Wilson played a solid game and was strong on the puck. He had 6 shots that resulted in two goals and was a +2 on the night. Hopefully this gets his game going consistently.

  • Seth Jones picked up 2 assists and was a +3 in 16:36 of ice time. Jones is starting to play more minutes and is getting his game going after a bit of a lull.

  • Mattias Ekholm has been quietly efficient. he had 15 minutes of ice time and also was a +3.
This was a solid win by the Predators. Esthetically, it wasn't pretty, but from a heart and character standpoint, it was beautiful.

Now the Predators need to play this way consistently.

My three stars:

1. Colin Wilson

2. Mike Fisher

3. Seth Jones

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