Monday, December 22, 2014

Predators Blast the Blue Jackets 5-1

The Nashville Predators traveled to Columbus to take on the Blue Jackets, one of the hottest teams in the NHL at the moment. The Jackets entered the contest 8-0-1 for the month of December, while the Predators have been solid at 6-2 for the month.

Pekka Rinne was in net for the Predators and Sergei Bobrovsky was between the pipes for the Jackets.

The first period was scoreless only because of some good fortune for the Predators. The net came off the moorings as Rinne pushed off the post just as Nick Foligno slid the puck into the net. After review, the goal was disallowed.


The first legitimate goal of the game came at 7:47 of the second period as Victor Bartley sprung Colin Wilson with a long lead pass. Wilson beat Bobrovsky short side to make it 1-0.

The Predators made it 2-0 at 9:25 as Mike Ribeiro corralled a pass from Shea Weber at the Jackets blue line and started a 2 on 1 rush with Craig Smith. Ribeiro faked the shot and passed to Smith who buried the puck in the open net.

The Predators made it 3-0 on Seth Jones first goal of the season. Jones drove the puck in on net and slid it between the pads of Bobrovsky at 6:31 of the third period.

The Predators extended the lead to 4-0 just 44 seconds later as Filip Forsberg worked hard in the corner to control the puck. He was able to do so and found Craig Smith alone in the face off circle. Smith blasted a puck past Bobrovsky for his second goal of the night.

That was it for Bobrovsky as Curtis McElhinney came into the game for the Jackets.

The first shot that McElhinney faced found the back of the net as Mike Fisher blew a shot over his shoulder off a 2 on 1 rush at 8:43 of the third.

Rinne lost his shutout as Alex Wennberg scored for the Jackets on the power play at 15:38 of the third.

That was it for the scoring as the Predators closed out a dominant game by a 5-1 score.

Some observations:

  • James Neal returned to the line up and dropped down to a line with Calle Jarnkrok and Taylor Beck. Craig Smith remained on the top line with Filip Forsberg and Mike Ribeiro.
  • Victor Bartley had a strong game and has stepped into the line up in the absence of Anton Volchenkov. He was sound in the defensive zone and drove the net when the opportunity presented itself in the offensive zone. This quite a luxury for the Predators to have a 7th defenseman that can step into the line up and play a solid game.
  • Colin Wilson has been playing exceptionally well. His puck possession ability has helped the Predators control games and his speed and puck handling ability have created some quality scoring chances. Good to see him rewarded tonight with the goal.
  • Mike Ribeiro is such a smart player. His fake shot allowed Smith to deposit an easy goal in the second period. That experience and hockey savvy has been an underrated part of his game and has undoubtedly been beneficial to some of the younger forwards on the roster.
  • Goodness, I like the killer instinct of this team. Rather than sitting back and trying to protect a 2 goal lead in the third, the Predators kept attacking and were rewarded in the third period. Quite a change from years past.
  • The last Blue Jacket regulation loss was against the Predators on November 29th.
  • This was the last of the two meetings this season between the former division rivals.
  • As solid as this game was, the power play continues to be worrisome. They did not register a shot on two of their power play opportunities and were 0-4 tonight.
The Predators played a complete game. They were much better defensively and were dynamic in the offensive zone, capitalizing on their scoring chances. They took on a red hot Jackets team and easily defeated them with a solid game in all zones.

A final game against the Boston Bruins awaits before the Christmas break.

My three stars:

1. Craig Smith

2. Colin Wilson

3. Pekka Rinne

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