Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Predators Destroy the Leafs 9-2

The Nashville Predators visited the Air Canada Centre to take on the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first of a three game stretch against Eastern Conference teams.

The Predators went with Pekka Rinne in net while the Leafs net was manned by Jonathan Bernier.

Taylor Beck opened the scoring at 1:52 of the first period as he drove wide around the defense and  rifled a shot over the shoulder of Bernier to the far post for his second goal of the year.

Derek Roy scored an absolutely beautiful goal at 10:14 of the first period to make it 2-0 for the Predators. Roy drove the net and took a pass from Matt Cullen. With former Predator Cody Franson hanging all over him Roy got his stick on the puck and was able to slide the puck five hole on  Bernier.

Taylor Beck struck again, this time on the power play. A shot from the point by Seth Jones hit Beck in the chest and dropped straight down on the ice. Beck felt Bernier behind and swatted the puck between his legs and into the back of the net before Bernier could drop to the ice. Beck's goal came at 16:49 of the first period.

James Reimer came in to net for the Leafs to begin the second period.

The second period saw both teams get some scoring chances but neither could score. The period looked as if it would end scoreless unless Taylor Beck fed Eric Nystrom, who carried the puck to the high slot and beat Reimer with a wrister over the glove at 18:45.

Just 53 seconds into the third period, the Predators swarmed the Leafs net and Mike Ribeiro was the beneficiary of a nice slap pass from Ryan Ellis as he re-directed the pass past Reimer to make it 5-0.

Filip Forsberg deflected a puck off his skate past Reimer at 1:26 of the period. After a video review, it was ruled a good goal, and Forsberg had his 9th goal and the Predators had a 6-0 lead.

Calle Jarnkrok took a sweet pass from Colin Wilson and Jarnkrok buried it for his first goal of the year and a 7-0 Predators lead at 3:06 of the third.

Roman Josi made it 8-0 at 5:14 as he wrapped around the net and his shot hit Mike Santorelli's stick and bounced over the shoulder of Reimer and trickled into the net.

The Leafs spoiled Rinne's shutout as the Predators turned the puck over behind their net and Mike Santorelli was able to slap the puck past a scrambling defense and Rinne to make it 8-1 at 8:18 of the third.

The Leafs made it 8-2 as Nazem Kadri redirected a shot from the point past Rinne at 10:33.

Colin Wilson gathered in a Craig Smith shot  a snuck the puck between Reimer and the post to make it 9-2 at 17:28. Another goal that was the result of good pressure around the Leafs net.

For the Leafs, the game mercifully ended with no more pucks in their net, and the Predators put on a show of dominant hockey in a city that believes it is the center of the hockey universe.

Some observations:

  • The Predators tried changing up the power play with James Neal on the point. Uh... let's not do that again. A couple of turnovers and a shorthanded chance by the Leafs on the first power play should quash that experiment quickly.

  • Speaking of the power play... Beck got some time on the PP unit and scored a goal. And tonight, the power play unit got shots on net, which they failed to do in four attempts in their previous game. Puck movement was better and they did a good job of getting pucks through.

  • I have to say it again, that goal by Roy was a beauty, and it was good to see him get his first goal as a Predator. That goal was Roy's 500th NHL point.

  • The speed difference between the Predators and the Leafs was noticeable. The Predators speed created matchup problems for the Leafs and scoring opportunities for the Predators.

  • Taylor Beck's second goal was a smart play as he knew Bernier was not down on the ice and slapped the puck between his legs to the net. Beck is playing with lots of confidence to go with the energy he brings to the ice, and it is good to see him getting rewarded for his efforts.

  • Good to see the Predators get secondary scoring, which they are going to need to continue their success.

  • The Predators scored on their first four shots of the third period.

  • Early in the contest, Rinne made some very good saves to thwart the Leafs attack.

  • A disgruntled Leafs fan tossed their sweater on the ice in the third period.

  • The Predators tied the franchise record for most goals in a game.

  • 14 Predator skaters recorded a point tonight.

That was fun, eh?

This was a complete game by the Predators. All phases played well, secondary scoring was there, and the effort was for 60 minutes. One aspect that was especially encouraging was that the Predators didn't sit back with the lead but kept coming at the Leafs all night. That is the formula for success for this team.

Now, they have to bring that effort every game.

My three stars:

1. Taylor Beck

2. Shea Weber

3. Pekka Rinne

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