Thursday, January 23, 2014

Predators Rally Past Vancouver for 2-1 Win

The Nashville Predators began a western Canada road trip with a stop in Vancouver to take on the Canucks. The Predators came into the game having won three of their last four games and were looking to build on that momentum.

Michael Del Zotto, acquired the day before from the New York Rangers for Kevin Klein, made his debut with the Predators.

Carter Hutton was in net for the Predators, and he has been playing well of late. The Predators were going to need another strong outing from Hutton against the talented Canucks squad.

And Hutton came up big in a scoreless first period. He stopped all 13 shots he faced, making some solid saves. The Canucks were aided in that first period by 6 minutes of power play time. Hutton and the penalty killers did a good job of keeping the Canucks off the board.

Taking those penalties is not a formula for beating the Canucks, and the Predators were going to have to be more disciplined in the second period.

The only score in the second period came when Chris Higgins tipped a Dale Weiss shot that was going wide of the net over the shoulder of Hutton.

As for the Predators, they had not really challenged Roberto Luongo through the first two periods. The offensive urgency and effort were going to have to improve in the third period.

The Predators got that response at 3:28 of the third period as Craig Smith beat Luongo short side with a snap shot to tie the game at 1. This was Smith's 16th goal of the season.

The Predators took a 2-1 lead on the power play as Seth Jones fired a shot from the blue line that was re-directed by Nick Spaling in front of Luongo Luongo. Spaling's goal came at 12:38 of the period.

The Predators defense was able to make that goal stand up, and they captured the 2-1 win.

Some observations:

  • Scott Nichol, Predators Director of Player Development, was behind the bench replacing Coach Lane Lambert, who stayed in Nashville to be with his wife, who is undergoing chemotherapy treatment. All of the fans of the Predators certainly send our best to her.

  • Del Zotto looked good for having made a cross country flight and joining the team today. he had good jump, a nice shot from the point, and showed that he can move the puck.

  • Nice response by the Predators in the third period. After a rather lifeless first two periods, the Predators took over in the third period. They got their feet moving and created some quality scoring chances by shooting the puck and getting to the net.

  • Hutton was very good again. He stopped 35 of 36 shots and did a good job of controlling rebounds and was tracking the puck well. Early in the year, it appeared that Hutton was scrambling a bit in net. Now, he looks to be more poised and fluid, and his game has benefitted.

  • The Canucks were without Head Coach John Tortorella, who missed his second game behind the bench as he serves his 15 day suspension.

  • The Predators won for only the 6th time this season when the opponent scores first.
The Predators continue tomorrow night in Calgary and are looking to keep the momentum going.

They will have to do so to get back into the playoff hunt.

My three stars:

1. Carter Hutton

2. Nick Spaling

3. Craig Smith

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