This was a game the Predators needed to win, for the points of course, but also to build on the momentum that the team has had recently. coming into this game , the Predators have been playing more consistently and have started to mesh.
They needed a fast start to take the home crowd out of the game, and they got that start courtesy of Eric Nystrom.
Nystrom tallied the first two Predators goals, the first just 1:51 into the game. Gabriel Bourque battled for the puck and got it to Nystrom, who made a sweet move on Flames netminder Kari Ramo. Nystrom faked Ramo down to the ice and tucked the puck into the net for a 1-0.
The Flames tied the game on the power play. Predators goaltender Devan Dubnyk was screened and never appeared to see the Mark Giordano shot, which was the Flames first one of the man advantage.
Tied at 1 going into the second intermission, Nystrom asserted himself again. he went to the front of the net and gathered in a bouncing puck off a flip in by Roman Josi that Ramo could not control. Nystrom was able to slide the puck through the five hole of Ramo at 1:50 of the first period.
Paul Gaustad took a sharp angle shot with Nystrom in front screening, and the puck deflected in off Nystrom for the goal. at 6:00 of the second. For Nystrom, this was his first career hat trick.
That was it for Ramo, as he had given up 3 goals on 13 shots, and Reto Berra entered the game in net for the Flames.
The Predators opened the third period on the penalty kill, and brutal turnover by Seth Jones led to a David Jones goal at 1:24 to cut the lead to 3-2 for the Predators.
Eric Nystrom scored his 4th goal of the night as Matt Cullen threw the puck into the slot and Nystrom re-directed the pass through the pads of Berra to give the Predators a 4-2 lead and some breathing room. His goal came at 10:47 of the third period.
The Predators did not make it easy on themselves as they wound up with 2 men in the box, giving the Flames 1:27 of 5 on 3 advantage.
The Flames took advantage of the Predators miscues to score a 5 on 3 goal as Mikael Backlund scored at 12:27.
The Flames tied the game just after the power play ended as T.J. Brodie blasted a shot from the blue line that beat Dubnyk over the shoulder at 13:36.
The Predators had complete control of this game and managed to give away a 2 goal lead and momentum.
The overtime period saw both team have some good scoring chances. Matt Cullen rang a shot off the pipe, but neither team could score.
So, in a game that the Predators should have won handily, the shoot out would decide the winner.
Shootouts are kind to the Predators, as they have only won one this season.
They still have only one win, as the Flames won the skills competition 2-1.
- Eric Nystrom was in full on beast mode. He is the first player in franchise history to score 4 goals in a game, and he played with jump and speed tonight. Good to see this hard working forward get rewarded.
- The Predators gave this game away with some stupid third period penalties and an awful turnover. This team is not good enough to overcome those kind of mistakes.
- Cullen, Colin Wilson, and Mike Fisher finished with zero shot on goal. Three top line forwards... and you wonder why the offense struggles.
- Dubnyk is not the long term solution at back up.
- Seth Jones shows flashes of brilliance, and he is going to be an elite player in the NHL. There are times when he shows that he is a rookie, as he did when he failed to clear the puck and turned it over in the defensive zone on the penalty kill. It was a terrible giveaway that led to the Flames third goal.
Hopefully the team can re-group and play a solid game in Edmonton.
My three stars:
1. Eric Nystrom
2. Mikael Backlund
3. Matt Cullen