Saturday, December 27, 2014

Power Play Propels Predators Past Philly 4-1

Yes, you read that headline right.

After struggling on the power play all year, especially on home ice, the Predators used three power play goals and an empty netter to defeat the Philadelphia Flyers 4-1 at the Bridgestone Arena.

Filip Forsberg opened the scoring on the power play, skating off the wall and sniping a shot over the pad of flyers goalie Ray Emery at 9:41 of the first period.

The Flyers tied the game at 1 at 6:50 of the second period as the Predators turned the puck over and the Flyers had a 2 on 1 break. Claude Giroux snapped a shot over the glove of Pekka Rinne.

The Predators had 1:15 of 5 on 3 in the second period, and Mike Fisher was able to tap a puck past Emery in a scramble in front of the crease. The play was set up by a shot from Forsberg that Emery could not control, and Fisher did a good job of fighting for the puck.

With the Predators still on the man advantage, Colin Wilson skated the puck off the half wall and snapped a perfectly placed shot over the shoulder of Emery and inside the far post to make it 3-1.

Wilson sealed the win with an empty net goal at 16:42 of the third period. Wilson was able to steal the puck at center ice and used his speed to separate from a Flyers defenseman to bury the puck in the open net.

Some observations:

  • The Predators have not lost back to back games this season.
  • This is just the second time this season that the Predators have won on home ice by more than one goal. The only other time was a 4-1 win over Dallas in the season opener.
  • Colin Wilson has really been playing well and tonight set a career high by scoring a goal in three straight games. His power play goal was a beauty, a perfectly placed shot that sailed over the shoulder of Emery inside the far post. Wilson is using his speed and puck handling ability to create scoring chances and more importantly is playing with confidence. His play has been integral to the Predators success this season.
  • Shea Weber had an assist and set a career high with an assist in five straight games.
  • The Predators were much better in the face off circle tonight, winning 57% of their draws. This obviously was beneficial to their puck possession numbers.
  • The Predators penalty kill came up big tonight, killing all three of the Flyers power plays including 58 seconds of a 5 on 3 to open the second period.
  • The power play finally showed some life, going 3 for 4. Mike Fisher did a good job of screening in front of the goal and the puck movement was better. Hopefully this gives this unit more confidence in the games ahead. Until this game, the Predators had only scored two power play goals on home ice all season.
  • Forsberg's 14th goal of the season ties him with Craig Smith for third for goals scored by a Predators rookie. He is just 4 points behind Alexander Radulov for most points by a Predators rookie. Forsberg continues to impress with his hockey sense and his nose for the net.
  • The tandem of Shea Weber and Roman Josi is quickly developing into an elite defensive pairing. They are complimentary players that play to each others strengths. Tonight, they did a superb job of shutting down the top line of the Flyers and contributing in the offensive end with 3 points (Weber 1A; Josi 2A). Think the Flyers wish they had Weber?
  • Pekka Rinne had a solid outing, stopping 26 of 27 shots and making some quality saves to keep the Flyers off the board.
  • The Predators out shot the Flyers 38-27, including a 17-9 advantage in the second period that was aided by the Flyers penalties.
A solid win after the Christmas break for the Predators and it is encouraging to see this team focused and continuing to play at a high level.

They will need to continue to do so as the schedule is going to get a lot tougher in the coming 4 weeks with 4 sets of back to backs.

My three stars:

1. Filip Forsberg

2. Colin Wilson

3. Pekka Rinne

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