Thursday, January 2, 2014

Bruins Outlast the Predators in OT 3-2

The Nashville Predators traveled to TD Garden looking to have a better showing against the Boston Bruins than their first meeting, a 6-2 Bruins win in Nashville on December 23rd.

The Bruins had rookie Niklas Svedberg in net, making his first NHL start, while the Predators went with Marek Mazanec.

With a rookie making his first start, the mission for the Predators was to get pucks on net and challenge Svedberg.

A scoreless first period saw the Predators get 8 shots on net, while the Bruins had 11. Mazanec made some good saves, especially on a Bruins power play to keep the game scoreless. The best Bruins save came not from Svedberg, but from Matt Bartkowski as the defenseman sprawled across an open net and used his helmet to block a shot from Matt Hendricks.

The Predators had some great scoring chances in the second period, but a combination of good saves by Svedberg and the inability to finish kept the Predators off the board.

That changed at 18:04 of the period as the Bruins got caught in a bad change. Mike Fisher carried the puck into the zone and fired a shot that Svedberg kicked out to the tape of Viktor Stalberg. Stalberg buried the shot into the open net to give the Predators a 1-0 lead.

The second period ended with the Predators on the penalty kill, which would carry over into the third period for 1:48.

As for that imperative to get shots on Svedberg...

The Predators had 16 shots in the second period to 3 for the Bruins.

The Bruins tied the game a 4:55 of the third period as Johnny Boychuk was left alone in the high slot and he blew a shot past Mazanec. The third period opened with the Bruins putting pressure on the Predators, and their jump and effort paid off with the tying goal.

That goal energized the Bruins and the Predators were back on their heels. The dominance and momentum of the Predators in the second period was now securely on the side of the Bruins and the Predators were going to have to step up and wrest it back.

The Bruins took a 2-1 lead at 12:29 as Jerome Iginla beat roman Josi driving to the net. he took a pass off the boards from Milam Lucic and tapped it past Mazanec. Iginla got inside of Josi and just overpowered him on the drive to the net.

The Predators responded at 14:35 as Svedberg gave up a long rebound of a Mike Fisher shot. The puck came to Shea Weber and he hammered a shot through traffic that beat Svedberg between his arm and his body to tie the game at 2.

In the remaining time, both teams created some scoring opportunities, but could not find the back of the net.

The Bruins won the game just 54  seconds into overtime as Brad Marchand beat a screened Mazanec from just outside the face off circle.

Some observations:

  • The second period was a solid period of hockey for the Predators, one of the best they have played this season. They out skated the Bruins, won puck battles, and got the puck to the net to challenge Svedberg.

  • As good as the second period was, the Predators were back on their heels for most of the third period. The talented Bruins had more jump and won the puck battles for most of the period.
  • It was good to see the Predators respond, however. The Garden was rocking and the Bruins had all the momentum. Tying the game with just over 5 minutes to go gave the Predators life and they started skating, winning puck battles, and attacking the net.

  • The Predators had 35 shots on net for the game including 16 in the second period. Their old nemesis- not finishing their chances- came back to bite the Preds in this game.

  • Mazanec made some good saves and looked poised in the face of the pressure from the Bruins. while neither he nor Carter Hutton have firmly established themselves as the starter, Mazanec seems to have an edge.

  • This was a much better effort by the Predators than their last outing against the Bruins, where they stunk it up and did not compete.
This team has shown that they can compete and win against some of the best teams in the NHL. They need to consistently apply that effort every night.

My three stars:

1. Brad Marchand

2. Shea Weber

3. Mike Fisher

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