Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Predators Blow Three Leads, Fall to the Avalanche in a SO

The Nashville Predators had every chance to get their first win of the season against the Colorado Avalanche. All they had to do was hold a lead.

Yeah...about that "holding the lead" thing.

The Predators blew three leads in this game on their way to a disappointing shoot out loss to the Avs. The Predators dropped the shootout 2-1 to fall to the Avalanche 5-4 at Bridgestone Arena.

Roman Josi showed why he is quickly emerging as an very good defenseman. Josi scored the first two goals of the game, launching shots from the blue line that beat Semyon Varlamov with traffic in front. Josi's goals came at 3:33 and 9:49 of the first period.

The Predators allowed the Avalanche to close within one goal with just 54 seconds left in the period as Gabriel Landeskog skated uncontested into the high slot and beat Pekka Rinne to make it 2-1.

The Predators outplayed the Avs in the first period, out shooting them 13-3 and generating some great scoring chances down low. Landeskog's goal had the potential to swing momentum back to the Avs, though, and it was going to be critical that the Predators bring that same effort in the second period.

Instead, Landeskog struck again, tying the game at 2 with his second goal at 8:41 of the second period. Landeskog was once again able to skate into the high slot and was not challenged by the Predators, and he beat Rinne with a wrist shot.

The Predators regained the lead at 14:43 of the second as Matt Cullen scored with a wrist shot under the crossbar from in close.

Cody McLeod out worked the Predators defense and gathered in a rebound and beat Rinne to tie the game at 3 at 14:43 of the third period.

The Predators once again took the lead as Matt Cullen re-directed a pass from Patric Hornqvist past Varlamov at 15:17.

And once again, the Predators gave up the lead as Nick Holden blew past Colin Wilson and beat Rinne to tie the game at 4 at 16:01 of the third.

After a scoreless overtime, the game went to a shootout. Calle Jarnkrok scored for the Predators while Ryan O'Reilly scored and then Landeskog netted the game winner.

Some observations:

  • The Predators fell to 1-8 in shootouts this season.

  • Josi now has 11 goals on the season, and has 18 points (7G-11A) in his last 25 games. Josi now joins a group of only 16 defensemen with double digits in goals. The Predators are one of three teams (Boston, Pittsburgh) with more than one defenseman with double digits in goals. Josi's partner Shea Weber has 18 goals.

  • I really, REALLY like the play of Jarnkrok. He picked up an assist for his third point in three NHL games and scored the Predators only goal in the shootout with a sweet move. Jarnkrok skates well and is poised on the ice and gets himself into good scoring position.

  • Gabriel Bourque has points in three straight games. Mike Fisher also has a three game point streak.

  • Matt Cullen had his first multi-goal game as a Predator and has 6 points in his last three games (3G-3A).

  • The defensive gaffes by the Predators wound up in the back of their net. Leaving Landeskog alone twice in prime scoring territory bit the Predators and is really inexcusable. Perhaps the most egregious mistake of all was Colin Wilson allowing Nick Holden to skate right past him for the game tying goal. On the night, Wilson was -2; Eric Nystrom was -2; Nick Spaling was -3; Victor Bartley was -2; and Mattias Ekholm and Michael Del Zotto were -1.

  • Seth Jones missed his first game of the season after leaving the previous game against Chicago in the first period.

  • For a team that prides itself for playing tight defense, the inability to hold a lead this season has been troubling. Especially giving up a goal quickly after scoring themselves has bitten the Predators in the butt. Whether it is a lack of focus or talent, this has cost the Predators in too many games this season.
This is a game that the Predators should have won.

Shoulda, woulda, coulda.

This game encapsulates the entire Predators season: on the cusp of doing something good and giving it away in a frustrating loss.

My three stars:

1. Gabriel Landeskog

2. Roman Josi

3. Matt Cullen

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