Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Bruins Stop the Predators Win Streak With a 5-3 Victory

The Nashville Predators traveled to TD Garden to take on the Boston Bruins in their final meeting of the year. The Predators captured a 3-2 shootout win in their first meeting in Nashville.

Pekka Rinne got a rest and Carter Hutton got his fourth start of the season for the Predators, while the Bruins had Tuukka Rask in net. Hutton was looking for his first win of the season.

The Predators came into the contest having gone 7-3 in their last 10 games and winning three straight. The Bruins are 3-5-2 in their last ten games.

The Predators were looking for a fast start to take the home crowd out of the game.

They didn't get it

Brad Marchand roofed a shot from the slot over the shoulder of Hutton to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead at 2:01 of the first period.

But this is the Predators and they answered back at 7:35 of the first as Colin Wilson took a pass from James Neal and put a backhand top shelf to tie the game at 1.

David Krejci blew a puck past Hutton from the face off circle on the power play to make it 2-1 at 9:35 of the first period.

Calle Jarnkrok stole the puck from Gregory Campbell at the Bruins blue line and whipped a puck through the legs of Dennis Seidenberg and past Rask to tie the game at 2 at 11:31 of the first.

A back and forth first period that saw both teams play to a draw degenerated into a second period controlled by the Bruins

The Bruins took a 3-2 lead at 5:52 of the second as Loui Eriksson took a pass and was all alone at the side of the net and roofed a shot over Hutton, who had no chance on the play.

Brad Marchand scored his second goal off a pass that was deflected across the slot and he had a wide open net into which to shoot the puck. His goal came at 10:51 of the second period.

The third period opened with the Predators on the power play, and as usual, they di nothing with the man advantage.

The Predators did not help their cause as the power play ended and James Neal took a penalty for slashing and an extra two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct.

The Predators did a good job on the penalty kill and were able to snuff out the Bruins scoring chances and managed two shorthanded shots on goal.

The Predators got to within one goal as Taylor Beck beat Rask over the shoulder at 6:48 of the third period.

That was all the Predators could muster and Loui Eriksson sealed the win with an empty net goal with 33 seconds remaining for a 5-3 win.

Some observations:

  • Craig Smith remained on the top line with Mike Ribeiro and Filip Forsberg. Smith has shown a lot of jump in his game while on that line and has tallied three goals in two contests on the top line.
  • Goodness, I like the play of Colin Wilson this season. he is playing smart hockey and taking the puck to the net. he is using his physical skills to create scoring chances and more importantly, he is finishing those chances this season. He just looks more confident on the ice and is playing his best hockey since he has been in the League.
  • Mattias Ekholm assisted on the first two Predator goals and has been playing some solid hockey of late. His defensive game is sound and he has shown some offensive flair. He has settled in with Ryan Ellis to form a solid second D pairing.
  • The Predators offense did not have a lot of jump. Just 10 shots on goal through two periods, and the Bruins did a great job of forechecking and disrupting their offensive flow. I know they played the night before and may have been a bit leg weary, but the Predators are going to have several back to backs after the Christmas break and they are going to have to play through that fatigue.
  • I like Carter Hutton, but he just doesn't look confident in net. His play all night was scrambly, and he was almost caught out of position a couple of times. I know he didn't have a chance on two of the Bruins goals, but he has to make some stops when the team needs them. The fact is that Hutton is going to have to get some wins for this team.
  • James Neal lost control in the third period. Not only did he take a selfish unsportsmanlike conduct penalty but he also got tagged with a 10 minute misconduct that effectively eliminated his services in the third period. He cannot commit those kinds of out of control plays and be a leader that this team needs. Neal had 14 of the 18 penalty minutes the Predators collected in the game.
  • The Bruins have a good young defenseman in Dougie Hamilton. I really like the way he plays the game. He is smart and physical and will be a fixture on the blue line for the Bruins for a long time.
  • Taylor Beck and Calle Jarnkrok continue to play some solid hockey. They are both strong on the puck and play full tilt when they are on the ice. It's fun to watch these young players grow in their roles.
  • The Predators power play is just horrid. That unit looks disorganized and just doesn't have any flow once they get in the zone. I know that I continually harp on this, but it is apparent that this unit has not come close to developing any chemistry, and that is going to be a problem for this team.
  • As flat as the Predators were in the first two periods and especially in the second, they were dominant in the third. They controlled the puck for long stretches in the offensive zone and created some great scoring chances with their speed and puck possession. Unfortunately, they waited until the third period to begin playing this way.
  • The Predators were a woeful 24 of 64 in the faceoff circle.
The Predators certainly didn't have their best game, but they did show some fight, especially in the third period.

Now they get some much needed time off for the holidays.

Time to get back to their winning ways on Saturday against the Flyers.

My three stars:

1. Brad Marchand

2.Patrice Bergeron

3. Calle Jarnkrok

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