Thursday, February 6, 2014

Predators Fall to the Wild in Overtime

The Nashville Predators traveled to the Xcel Energy Center to take on the Minnesota Wild in a game that could go a long way in getting the Predators back into the playoff hunt. The Predators currently sit four points out of the last wild card slot, and a win tonight would get them dangerously close to getting back into the hunt.

The Predators were going to need a good start and a solid 60 minutes of hockey to capture a win.

Instead, the Wild got on the board first as Jonas Brodin took a feed from Nino Niedeirriter and ripped a shot past Carter Hutton from the slot at 4;05 of the first period.

The Predators answered at 5:50 of the first as Craig Smith shot a wrist shot at Darcy Kuemper from the blue line. The shot hit Kuemper in the shoulder and plopped into the blue ice. Smith was driving the net and banged home the loose puck to tie the game.

The Wild went up 2-1 at 13:27 as Zach Parise scored on the power play.

Smith tallied his second goal of the game and his 18th of the season as he flipped a backhand from the slot over the shoulder of Kuemper at 7:40 of the second period.

The third period saw both teams create some good scoring chances with the Wild having the advantage in that area, but both netminders were able to keep the period scoreless.

The Predators were heading to another overtime, their 13th of the season. The Predators were 3-9 heading into the extra period. The wild were playing their 15th extra period game and they were 7-7 heading into the bonus period.

The Predators are now 3-10 in overtime as Nino Niedeirriter ripped a shot past Hutton at 2:16 of the extra period.

Some observations:

  • Huttonmade some solid saves as the wild pressured the Predators net all night. The Wild out shot the Predators 36-18 and spent an inordinate amount of time in the Predators zone. Hutton was beaten by Brodin on a blistering shot that seemed to fool him with the velocity, and that is one that he would like to have back. Considering the pressure that the wild put on the Predators all night, it was a good effort by Hutton, however.

  • Craig Smith was outstanding. his first goal was all effort as he used his speed to create separation and followed his shot to the net, fighting past a defender. The positive about Smith this season is that he has played consistently throughout the year and  that is something he needed to prove that he could do.

  • The Predators were once again challenged all night by the speed and forecheck of the Wild. Teams that forecheck aggressively and have good speed have been problematic for the Predators, and tonight was no different. The lack of quality puck carriers makes this team vulnerable against this type of opponent.

  • Matt Cullen was back in the line up, but played only 7:36 before leaving the contest with an injury. Viktor Stalberg is still out, and the Predators were also without the services of Nick Spaling, who will be out until after the Olympic break.

  • Paging Colin Wilson... Mr. Colin Wilson. Please report to the Predators and show up for a game.

  • All the best to Pete Weber, who suffered a heart attack and is resting comfortably and out of danger. He will be in the hospital in Minneapolis for a few days and will be returning home this weekend.

  • And best wishes to David Poile, who was struck in the face by a puck that went over the boards at the Predators morning skate. Poile was taken by ambulance to a local hospital in Minneapolis as well, and suffered damage to his face as he was struck over the eye. The puck was a pass from Shea Weber that hit a stick and went over the glass, so you know it had some velocity on it. Hopefully David is not seriously injured.
The Predators didn't have their best effort, but managed to salvage a point in this contest against a good Wild squad.

The Predators now sit 3 points out of the wild card spot with one game remaining before the Olympic break.

It will be no easy task as the Predators face the Anaheim Ducks at Bridgestone Arena on Saturday.

My three stars:

1. Craig Smith

2. Nino Niedeirriter

3. Carter Hutton

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