Friday, March 21, 2014

Predators Win a Wild One Over the Flames 6-5

The Nashville Predators offense can score against the Calgary Flames.

Unfortunately, the Predators defense can't seem to stop the Flames from scoring.

The Predators played a wild affair with the Flames at the ScotiaBank Saddledome that saw both teams light up the scoreboard and pull their starting goalies in a game that the Predators eventually won 6-5.

The Predators opened the game with good jump and skating well. That effort gave them a two goal lead as they tallied two goals just 49 seconds apart. Victor Bartley opened the scoring with a drive from outside the faceoff circle that beat Flames netminder Joni Ortio.. The play was set up by the speed of Craig Smith, who beat the Calgary defense down the ice and set up Bartley with a nice pass.

Bartley's first NHL goal came at 5:10 of the first period.

Shea Weber made it 2-0 as he drove the net and took a pass from Mike Fisher and lifted the puck over the shoulder of Ortio at 5:59 of the first.

The Flames scored on the power play with 34 seconds remaining in the first period as Kris Russell beat Pekka Rinne over the glove with a shot from the face off circle.

The Predators would notch two more goals in the second period. Michael Del Zotto hit Patric Hornqvist with a perfect lead pass that he re-directed past Ortio at 4:20 of the second to give the Predators a 3-1 lead.

That lead evaporated in just 51 seconds as the Flames scored two quick goals.

Mike Cammalleri scored at 6:23 and Jiri Hudler scored at 7:14. All of a sudden, the Predators had lost control of momentum and of the game.

Viktor Stalberg gave the Predators that momentum back as well as the lead as he stuffed a puck past MacDonald on a wrap around at 8:06.

That was it for Ortio as he was pulled and Joey MacDonald came in to tend the net for the Flames

The Flames tied the game on an egregious play by Rinne as he was caught behind the net and the Flames gained possession of the puck. Lance Bouma got control of the puck and passed it to Mikael Backlund in the slot and he fired it into the open net at 13:31.

That would be it for Rinne as Carter Hutton came in net. Not the sharpest night for Rinne, especially on the play that gave the Flames the tying goal.

The Predators broke the tie on the power play as Shea Weber hammered a shot from the face off circle past MacDonald to give the Predators a 5-4 lead at 14:28 of the third period.

Now, could the Predators make the lead stand up?

The Predators made their case to do just that as Patric Hornqvist carried the puck into the zone and dropped the puck for Roman Josi. Josi took a shot toward the net that was re-directed past MacDonald by Matt Cullen to give the Predators a 6-4 lead at 17:08.

The Predators are... the Predators, however.

Mike Cammalleri took a shot from almost on the goal line that got between Hutton's pads and barely dribbled over the goal line to make it 6-5 at 17:36 of the third.

Wow. Just wow.

With the Flames goalie pulled for the extra attacker, Hutton made a huge save on Sean Monahan. The Predators managed to keep the Flames off the board and secured a wild 6-5 victory.

Some observations:

  • Congratulations to Victor Bartley, who got his first NHL goal. Bartley has been a perma scratch this season but has maintained a good attitude and I think can be a solid contributor for the Predators blue line.

  • Calle Jarnkrok picked up his first NHL point with an assist on Stalberg's goal. Jarnkrok looked good in his NHL debut, playing with poise and good jump. He showed some good puck handling skills and vision on the ice and has a lot of promise. He played on a line with Craig Smith and Gabriel Bourque and they looked good all night.

  • Rinne had a brutal night. Those games happen, but tonight Rinne just didn't look comfortable in net.

  • Shea Weber continues to have a stellar season. His two goals tonight give him 18 for the season to lead all NHL defensemen. He has played solid all season long and has to be in consideration for the Norris Trophy.

  • This Predators team cannot seem to develop a killer instinct. Twice they surrendered two goal leads, and against most opponents that does not bode well. Kudos to the Predators, though, for battling back and eventually winning this game.

  • Several players for the Predators had big nights. Matt Cullen had 4 points (1G-3A); Patric Hornqvist had 3 points (1G-2A); and Shea Weber had 2 points (2G). It was also good to see Viktor Stalberg get a goal. he has been working hard and is more productive off the 4th line.
This was a game the Predators did not need to lose, and congratulations to them for staying with it and capturing the win.

Hopefully the offense that showed up tonight will stick around for the rest of the season.

My three stars:

1. Matt Cullen

2. Patric Hornqvist

3. Mike Cammalleri

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