Saturday, November 29, 2014

Predators Finish Perfect Home Stand With 2-1 Win Over the Blue Jackets

The Nashville Predators wrapped up a 4 game home stand against the Columbus Blue Jackets at the Bridgestone Arena. The Predators entered the game as one of the hottest teams in the NHL while the Blue jackets have been decimated by injuries and victimized by poor play and currently sit last in the League with 14 points. The Jackets played last night and were smoked by the Canucks 5-0.

Should be an easy win, right?

Well, it wasn't easy, but the Predators captured a 2-1 victory.

It was a win, but the Predators had to fight and scrap for the victory as Jackets netminder Curtis McElhinney stopped 40 of the 42 shots he faced from the Predators and made them work for their victory.

The Predators fired 20 shots on net in the first period to 7 for the Jackets but the period ended scoreless as McElhinney and Pekka Rinne stopped every shot they faced.

The Predators finally broke through in the second period as Mike Ribeiro gathered in the rebound of a Roman Josi shot and swooped around the back of the net and buried the wrap around at 12:47.

The Jackets used some sloppy play by the Predators at the start of the third period to tie the game. The Predators took two consecutive penalties, and on the second power play, Ryan Johansen was able to put in the tying goal at 3:48 of the period.

The game looked to be heading to overtime until Colin Wilson was able to backhand a pass from Craig Smith at 17:48 of the third past an out of position McElhinney for the game winner.

Some observations:

  • Mike Fisher got some time on the power play unit, and I really like his presence on that unit. Fisher wins faceoffs, battles in the corners, and is a physical presence on the ice. I hope that he continues to see time on the man advantage unit.

  • The Predators finished the 4 game home stand a perfect 4-0 and have won 6 of their last 7.

  • Pekka Rinne won his League leading 16th game. While he didn't have a lot of work, he still made some quality saves when the Jackets pressed the Predators.

  • Kudos to McElhinney. He stood on his head and made some good saves and gave the jackets a chance to win the game. The Predators poured 20 shots on net in the first period and spent most of the second period in the Jackets end, recording another 13 shots. The Predators did a good job of getting shots to the net and McElhinney was equal to the task for most of the night.

  • Filip Forsberg had a couple of filthy dangles to create some scoring chances. His ability to see the ice and maneuver past defenders to get to open spaces is amazing.

  • I really like the play of the line of Calle Jarnkrok, Colin Wilson, and Craig Smith. They are playing with good jump and creating scoring chances.

  • Speaking of Colin Wilson, he has really elevated his game. He is using his speed and puck handling to create scoring chances and has been rewarded for his efforts. He has 6 points (3G-3A) in his last 7 games.

  • The power play had more energy and movement but still couldn't produce. The Predators are now a League worst 1 for 41 on home ice with the man advantage.

  • Seth Jones played his 100th NHL game.

  • Playing well and winning on home ice is critical for any team. The Predators have done a good job of winning at the Bridge at the start of this season, going 10-1-1.
With the win, the Predators are 16-5-2, good for 34 points and first in the Central Division.

The Predators have shown the ability to win in different ways and have gotten contributions from throughout their line up.

They will have to keep it up throughout this season.

My three stars:

1. Colin Wilson

2. Curtis McElhinney

3. Mike Ribeiro

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