Thursday, April 10, 2014

Predators Have Some Fight Left, Defeat the Coyotes 2-0

The playoffs will not happen for the Nashville Predators this season.

That doesn't mean that their remaining games are meaningless.

The Predators defeated the Phoenix Coyotes 2-0 at Bridgestone Arena, and showed they still have a lot of fight and pride in their game. They managed to send the crowd home happy on fan appreciation night and in the process dealt a damaging blow to the Coyotes playoff chances.

A scoreless first period saw the Predators turn the puck over several times in the defensive zone and give the Coyotes several good scoring opportunities. Pekka Rinne was strong in net and kept the Coyotes off the board with his play in net.

It took the Predators 7 minutes to record their first shot on net.

Once the Predators got their skates going, they managed to limit chances by the Coyotes and get some chances of their own.

After a scoreless first period, the Predators got on the board first off a shot from Craig Smith on the power play. With the man advantage about to expire, Smith skated in from the face off circle and used the Coyote defenders to screen Thomas Greiss. Smith let a wrist shot go that Greiss never saw and beat him top shelf for the game's first goal at 10:26 of the second period.

Patric Hornqvist made it 2-0 at 9:26 of the third period as Greiss stopped Hornqvist's first shot, but he got his rebound and shoveled it past the pad of Greiss.

The Predators locked down the Coyotes in the remainder of the game with Rinne making some solid saves to preserve the shutout.

Some observations:

  • Rinne recorded his second shutout of the season and his 32nd career shutout. he stopped all 29 shots he faced, and with the win moved in first place for all time wins by a Predator goalie with 162. His win tonight moved him past Tomas Vokoun, who had the record with 161 wins.

  • Patric Hornqvist and Craig Smith both tallied their 21st goal of the season.

  • Smith played a strong game. He skated well and fired 9 shots at the net, with 5 of them getting on goal. Smith has rebounded nicely from a dismal season last year and has shown that he can be a consistent producer and an offensive threat.

  • Former Predator Marty Erat played his 800th game tonight skating for the Coyotes. he played 723 of those with the Predators.

  • Patric Hornqvist now has 50 points, one shy of his career high set in the 2009-10 season. Hornqvist has 15 points in his last 9 games (8G-7A).

  • Ryan Ellis led the Predators with 4 blocked shots.

  • Matt Cullen picked up an assist on Hornqvist's goal and now has 13 points (3G-10A) over the last 9 games.

  • Mike fisher also had an assist tonight and has 10 points 3G-7A) over the last nine games.

  • Shea Weber led the Predators with 26:27 TOI.
This was a solid win for the Predators against a team that was desperate. It was heartening to see the boys compete as hard as they did when it would have been just as easy to roll over.

The playoffs aren't happening, but that doesn't mean there aren't things to be accomplished before the end of the season.

This is the kind of effort the Predators need to close out the season.

My three stars:

1. Pekka Rinne

2. Craig Smith

3. Patric Hornqvist

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