Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Predators OT Win Over the Avalanche Continues Torrid Play On Home Ice

The Nashville Predators returned from the All Star Break to take on the Colorado Avalanche at Bridgestone Arena.

A home game for the Predators is almost a certain win this season, and although it took overtime, the Predators prevailed 4-3 to run their home record to 19-2-1.

Craig Smith scored on a breakaway at 2:46 of the extra period to give the Predators the win. Smith took a lead pass from Mike Ribeiro and beat Semyon Varlamov stick side for the game winner.

A slow first period for the Predators saw them fall behind 1-0 on a point shot from Cody McLeod past a screened Carter Hutton..

The second period was when the Predators awoke. They tied the game on a blast from Roman Josi from the top of the face off circle.

Colin Wilson gave the Predators a 2-1 lead on the power play as he gathered a shot off the end boards and beat Varlamov from a sharp angle.

Jerome Iginla beat Hutton through traffic to tie the game at 2 at 16:05 of the second period.

Just 32 seconds into the third period, Filip Forsberg gave the Predators a 3-2 lead when Varlamov paddled his shot off to the side of the net. Forsberg didn't give up on the play and lifted the puck over the shoulder of Varly for the goal.

The Avalanche pulled Varlamov with 2:16 remaining in the game for the extra attacker. Nick Holden was able to get a rebound and lifted a shot over the glove of Hutton to tie the game with 26 seconds remaining.

Hutton set up Smith's OT heroics by stopping a Zach Redmond shot and kicking the rebound to Ribeiro, who hit Smith breaking down the middle of the ice for the winning goal.

Some observations:

  • After a slow and rusty first period, the Predators kicked it up a notch and took it to the Avalanche. The Predators had an 8-5 shot advantage after the first period; 22-14 after the second period; and 37-21 after the third period. The Predators held the Avs to single digit shot totals in each period and held the Avs without a shot for over 10 minutes in the third period. It is encouraging to see the team get stronger as the game goes along.
  • Winning close games is critical in this league. The Predators are 20-4-5 in one goal games this season.
  • Roman Josi continues to elevate his game. He has become a more consistent offensive threat with a deceptively good shot. His ability to handle the puck is exceptional. But Josi is very solid defensively and plays very good positional hockey in the defensive zone. he had 5 blocked shots tonight to bring his season total to a team leading 121.
  • Filip Forsberg's goal was a beauty, following his shot and scoring from a tough angle for a team leading 16th goal. We all marvel at his ability to handle the puck and his nose for the net, but tonight he showed a gritty side to his game. He was in front of the net battling and screening Varlamov on Josi's goal, and in the third period sacrificed his body (and his stick, which was shattered into two pieces) to block a shot when the Avs were pressing in the offensive zone.
  • The Predators power play was 1 for 2 on the night. They were successful on their second attempt by getting the puck to the net. Their first power play was too cute, looking for the perfect pass instead of taking the shot.
  • I really liked the play of the line of Matt Cullen, Gabriel Bourque, and Calle Jarnkrok. They played with good jump and used their speed to create problems for the Avalanche. If this line can start to pot some goals, it will boost their confidence and obviously help the team.
  • Colin Wilson had a strong game. His goal on the power play was from a difficult angle and was a perfectly placed shot. He used his speed and strength to control the puck and create some chances in the offensive zone. His goal tonight was his 15th of the season.
  • Faceoffs continue to be a struggle for the Predators as they won 30 of 67 draws, a 45% winning percentage.
  • Shea Weber led the Predators with 27:21 TOI.
It wasn't the prettiest game for the Predators, yet it was a good win. They overcame a slow start and the push back from the Avalanche throughout the game.

The Predators have 67 points and a 5 point lead over the Blues and Blackhawks, who were both idle tonight.

My three stars:

1. Craig Smith

2. Mike Ribeiro

3. Nick Holden

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