Thursday, October 9, 2014

Predators Open the Season With a Win Over Ottawa

The Nashville Predators opened the season and the Peter Laviolette era with a come from behind 3-2 win over the Ottawa Senators in front of a sellout crowd at the Bridgestone Arena.

The arrival of Laviolette promised a focus on offense for the Predators. through two periods, it looked like more of the same as the Predators could not solve Sens netminder Craig Anderson and trailed 1-0.

That changed in the third period, as the Predators erupted for three goals and held off a late flurry by the Senators to capture the first game of the season.

This version of the Predators will certainly shoot the puck as they out shot the Senators 37-20 and constantly peppered Anderson with shots.

The Senators had a 1-0 lead going into the third period on an even strength goal by Kyle Turris, but the Predators would have a power play to open the third period and needed something to get momentum on their side.

That would come as from fillip Forsberg, as he found Craig Smith with a pass at the side of the net and smith tapped the puck past Anderson to tie the game at 1:36 of the third period.

The Predators would take a 2-1 lead at 8:53 of the third on a nifty drive to the net and wrap around goal by Shea Weber. Weber showed he could handle the puck as he drove around the net and deftly lifted the puck over a sprawling Anderson.

The Predators extended their lead to 3-1 as Paul Gaustad and Eric Nystrom broke in on a 2 on 0 rush. Gaustad put a nice pass on the stick of Nystrom and he buried the shot at 10:20 of the third.

That goal proved to be the game winner as the Sens made it 3-2 on a power play goal by Alex Chiasson  at 13:48 of the third.

Pekka Rinne and the defense held off the Senators late push and captured the win.

Some observations:

  • Holy Shnikey, does Filip Forsberg have some sweet hands! The kid can stick handle in a phone booth and was very good on defense, picking the pocket of several of the Senators. He has great vision that allows him to make good passes, and he is calm with the puck. He looks stronger, battles well, and is dangerous in the offensive zone. Forsberg had two assists tonight.

  • This iteration of the Predators is certainly not afraid to shoot the puck. And that is a welcome change that will pay dividends this season. While Anderson had to make some routine saves, he was challenged in every period by the Predators and that consistent push finally broke through in the third period. This team is not the most talented team in the NHL, but this type of effort will produce wins.

  • Rinne was solid, but not spectacular. The goal by Turris was just blown past him and it is one that he has to stop. that said, he made some very good saves, especially late in the game to preserve the win.

  • The Predators honored David Legwand with a tribute video in the second period.

  • But I guess old habits die hard. Legwand was called for a penalty in second period for tripping, and as he took his skate of shame to the penalty box, he skated to the home penalty box and tried to enter the door. he was waved to the visiting team penalty box by the off ice official.

  •  Paul Gaustad picked up two assists and was 14 of 17 in the face off circle.

  • Mike Ribeiro centered the first line with James Neal and Gabriel Bourque on the wings. The chemistry between Ribeiro and Neal was evident, but that line still needs to gel. Ribeiro took 23 faceoffs and won 9, and that is going to have to improve.

  • This was Laviolette's 390th win behind the bench.

  • Roman Josi led the Predators in ice time, with 27:59.
All in all, this was a solid effort by the Predators. This team is a work in progress, but I like the energy of the youngsters and the leadership of the veterans.

My three stars:

1. Shea Weber

2. Fillip Forsberg

3. Paul Gaustad

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