Sunday, January 5, 2014

Predators Can't Finish, Fall to the Canes

The Nashville Predators traveled to Raleigh to face the Carolina Hurricanes in the concluding contest of their three game road trip. The first two games had seen the Predators fall in overtime and in the shootout.

The Predators were looking for a full 60 minute game to try to get back into the win column.

That full 60 minute effort got off to a sputtering start.

Alexander Semin gathered in a puck behind the net and shoveled the puck at Predators netminder Carter Hutton. Hutton had not gotten back to the post and the shot hit him on the backside and caromed into the net at 4:28 of the first period.

This is the kind of slow start and horrific goal that has victimized the Predators all season.

The Predators got some good scoring chances and challenged Hurricanes goaltender Anton Khudobin but could not find the back of the net in the period. They out shot the Canes 11-9.

The Predators had a few scoring chances in the second period, as did the Hurricanes, but neither team could score. The best chance came when Eric Nystrom got behind the defense and broke in on Khubodin, but the puck rolled off his stick. The Predators out shot the Canes 12-10 in the period.

The Predators finally tied the game at 6:46 of the third period on the power play as Shea Weber blasted a shot that Khodubin got a piece of. The rebound came to Mike Fisher behind the net and he threw it back into the crease. The puck hit Patric Hornqvist and then was kicked in by Ron Hainsey. the goal was credited to Hornqvist for his 8th goal of the season.

The Hurricanes took the lead at 16:29 as they controlled the puck for a lengthy stretch in the Predators zone. Their cycle game moved the puck well and finally Jeff Skinner unleashed a shot from the face off circle that beat Hutton through the five hole.

The Predators pulled Hutton for an extra attacker but could not score, and the Predators went down to defeat 2-1.

Some observations:

  • Hutton made some good saves tonight, but that first goal was brutal, and there is no way that any goalie should allow a player to score from behind the net.

  • The Predators out shot the Canes 32-25, but the old bugaboo of not being able to finish scoring chances came back to once again haunt this team. They did a good job of getting shots to the net and had some good scoring chances, but could not get the puck in the net. make no mistake, Khudobin played a strong game, but the Predators had chances that they could not finish. This speaks volumes about the lack of elite offensive talent on this team.

  • Viktor Stalberg started the game on the fourth line. Again this makes no sense. In the third period, he moved up on a line with Matt Cullen and Nick Spaling. Using Stalberg on the fourth line is, to me, an inexplicable waste of his offensive potential.

  • Can someone please wake up David Legwand? Once again, he has reverted to invisibility mode, floating in the offensive zone and his defensive lapse left Skinner alone for the game winning goal.
The Predators return home for 5 straight games, and they desperately need to notch some wins.

My three stars:

1. Jeff Skinner

2. Patric Hornqvist

3. Anton Khudobin

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