Thursday, November 6, 2014

Predators Defeat the Stars 3-2 In Big D

The road trip continues for the Predators with a stop in Dallas to take on the division rival Stars. In their only other meeting this season the Predators captured a 4-1 win in Nashville.

Pekka Rinne was back in net for the Predators, while the Stars had Kari Lehtonen manning the crease.

After a scoreless first period, the Predators opened the second period scoring with two- count 'em, TWO- power play goals.

Craig Smith notched the first goal with a blast from the slot that beat Lehtonen glove side at 4!0 of the second period.

Filip Forsberg sniped a shot from the right face off circle high stick side to make it 2-0 at 13:57 of the second.

Immediately after the Predators misfired on a 2 on 1 rush, Stars defenseman carried the puck down the ice and through the Predators defense to beat Rinne low glove side to make it 2-1 at 16:26 of the second.

Rinne had to make some exceptional saves throughout the second period to keep the Stars from tying the game, including a point blank save late in the period off a turnover.

The Stars opened the third period putting pressure on the Predators and their effort paid off as Patrick Eaves tied the game off a goal mouth scramble where the Stars outmanned the Predators at the front of the net. Eaves shoveled the puck past Rinne at 7:23 of the third.

Matt Cullen responded for the Predators with a shot through traffic over the shoulder of Lehtonen at 13:47. This was Cullen's first goal of the year in his fifth game.

The Stars pulled Lehtonen for the extra attacker with 1:30 to go in the game, and although the Stars were swarming in the zone, Rinne and the skaters in front of him shut the door on the Stars to capture a 3-2 win.

Some observations:

  • When the Predators are skating and playing with energy, they are a very good team. Not elite, but very good. When they are flatfooted or don't have jump, they can be downright ugly. Some stretches of the latter tonight.

  • Calle Jarnkrok drew back into the line up tonight. he had been a healthy scratch the last 4 games.

  • Colin Wilson just looks more engaged and energized. I have been critical of Wilson for getting bouts of Legwanditis (floating and not doing much), but he is skating hard and creating in the offensive zone. I like this and hope he continues to play this way.

  • Craig Smith absolutely ripped a shot from the slot on the power play. Smith has a great shot, and it's good to see him potting some goals.

  • Wow- Forsberg just picked the stick side corner for a power play goal. That was a goal scorer's goal. Excited to see how his game is developing, and he looks like he can turn into the legitimate scoring threat the Predators have so desperately needed.

  • The chemistry that Cullen and Craig Smith have is very good. those two really work well on that line.

  • Cullen had a seeing eye shot through traffic for the game winner. It seems to me that the Predators are doing a much better job of picking corners and not just shooting the puck into the belly of the opposing goaltender.

  • A significant win as it came against a division rival. These divisional games are in reality 4 point games since we can put more distance against a competitor that is trying to gain ground on us.

  • Strong game by Mattias Ekholm, who picked up two assists and had 4 shots on goal. Matty Ek is playing with more confidence and is developing into a solid blueliner.

  • The Predators are 3-2 on through 5 games of this six game road trip.

  • Rinne picked up his 8th win of the year, stopping 33 of 35 shots.
A big bounce back win by this team after their last outing, More importantly, they took the Stars best push and fought back to find a way to win.

These are the kinds of games this team will face in their division all season.

So far, they have shown they can compete and win these games.

My three stars:

1. Pekka Rinne

2. Mattias Ekholm

3. Matt Cullen

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