Thursday, November 27, 2014

Predators Scrap Out a 1-0 OT Win Over the Oilers

The Nashville Predators have played some games that were turkeys on Thanksgiving night.

Tonight's game against the Edmonton Oilers at Bridgestone Arena was almost another one of those before the Predators were rescued by the overtime heroics of Filip Forsberg and the stellar play of goaltender Pekka Rinne.

The Oilers outworked, out shot, and out hustled the Predators all night. Pekka Rinne was marvelous, stopping 37 shots in regulation and overtime, including a penalty shot in overtime by Jordan Eberle after Shea Weber was called for closing his hand on the puck in the crease.

Forsberg was able to battle through a check after being spun around and whipped a shot that got under Oilers goaltender Viktor Fasth's arm and into the net for the game winner.

This was a game the Oilers probably deserved to win based on their effort. Yet the Predators found a way to secure the two points through the play of Rinne and Forsberg.

Some observations:

  • The Predators welcomed Mike Fisher back into the line up tonight for his first game of the season. Fisher has been out all year after rupturing his Achilles tendon in off season training. Fisher skated well and I really like the energy and physical play that he brings to the game.

  • Fisher's return meant that someone had to sit, and that someone was Matt Cullen. Fisher was inserted on the Geriatric Line with Olli Jokinen and Derek Roy and had 12:44 of ice time and one shot on net.

  • Abysmal, awful, atrocious. Take your pick of adjectives to describe the Predators power play. The man advantage unit looked disjointed all night and unable to handle the forecheck of the Oilers penalty kill. On the Predators second power play, they did not register a shot and gave up 3 short handed shots to the Oilers. The Predators short circuited another power play by almost immediately taking a penalty. I just don't understand how this unit has failed to gel and become more efficient this deep into the season, but unless they improve quickly, this will be a serious problem for the Predators as the season goes on. On home ice, the Predators power play is an anemic 1 for 37. Unbelievable.

  • On the other hand, the Predators penalty kill has definitely been playing better. They killed all four of the Oilers power plays. this unit is playing smart and with energy and it is good to see them stepping up their play in this critical area.

  • Filip Forsberg continues to play at a high level, and with his goal tonight is the first Predator to reach double digits in goals (10). Forsberg has 10 goals and 13 assists for 23 points. Johnny Gudreau of Calgary is second in the rookie scoring race with 15 points. Forsberg plays smart and with poise and has a nose for the net, which was shown with his game winning goal tonight. That was a goal scorer's goal, fighting off a check and finding the opening on Fasth for the game winner.

  • It goes without saying that the Predators were in this game and eventually won because of the play of Pekka Rinne. Rinne made some outstanding saves, notably on the penalty shot by Eberle in overtime. Rinne was on his game and held the Predators in the contest until they were able to get the game winner. He stopped 37 shots on the way to recording his 34th career shutout.

  • The Oilers outshot the Predators 37-25. The Predators did not record their first shot on net until 11:38 of the first period. Must have been a serious turkey coma for this team.

  • The Oilers have lost 8 straight games.

  • A goal by Seth Jones in the second period was disallowed after goaltender interference was called against Paul Gaustad. Goose was checked into Fasth by an Oiler defender, which should not have negated the goal. 
This was a game that the Predators were, candidly, lucky to win. But they did win. And that is the mark of a team that worked through a dismal start and an erratic performance to capture the two points.

Hopefully this team clicks on all cylinders Saturday night.

My three stars:

1. Pekka Rinne

2. Pekka Rinne (OK- Filip Forsberg)

3. Viktor Fasth

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