Although the Hurricanes defeated the Predators in early December by a 2-1 margin, they have struggled to string together wins.
On paper, it should be a fairly easy contest for the Predators.
The Hurricanes played an excellent road game and challenged the Predators throughout the contest before the Predators turned it on in the third period to capture a 3-2 win.
A lethargic first period by the Predators saw them fall behind 1-0 as Eric Staal banged home a puck from the top of the crease with the Canes on the power play.
The score could have been worse but for Pekka Rinne making some good saves, including one with his back to the ice and flicking his leg out to catch the puck behind his knee off a shot from Nathan Gerbe.
The Predators had more jump in the second period but could not get a puck past Hurricanes netminder Cam Ward, who looked rock solid through two periods. The game had all the makings of a hot goalie stealing a game from the Predators.
That changed in the third period when Ryan Ellis drove down the wing and put a shot on net. Ward looked to have the post, but somehow the shot snuck through and trickled over the goal line to tie the game at 1.
That lead was short lived as Justin Faulk fired a shot through traffic with the Canes on another power play. That shot eluded Rinne and went just inside the post to give the Canes a 2-1 lead.
Mike Fisher tied the game at 2 when he was able to slap a puck past Ward from the slot.
The Predators got the game winner from Roman Josi as he blasted a puck from the face off circle over the shoulder of Ward at 15:17 of the third period.
- I really liked the play of Gabriel Bourque and Viktor Stalberg tonight. Both players had jump, played with speed, and were aggressive in the offensive zone. Stalberg picked up two assists tonight with the primary assist on both the goal from Ellis and Josi.
- Filip Forsberg picked up an assist tonight to give him 38 points on the season, which is a rookie record for the Predators. He broke the previous record of 37 points set by Alexander Radulov.
- Roman Josi has 7 points (3G-4A) in his last 6 games.
- The Hurricanes played an excellent game and disrupted the Predators offensive flow with an aggressive forecheck. Once in the zone, the Canes worked hard to keep the Predators to the outside and away from the net. Full marks to the Predators for battling through and capturing the win and a critical two points. For a while, it just looked as if it was not going to be the Predators night, but they kept coming and got the win. That is the mark of a team playing at a championship level.
- The Predators still have not lost back to back games this season.
- The Predators PK struggled tonight, giving up 2 power play goals on 3 chances for the Hurricanes. Once again, the Predators power play failed to connect on home ice, going 0-2.
- The Predators were woeful in the face off circle, going 29 for 65 for 44%.
- The Predators are 15-2-1 on home ice this season. They are 17-4-4 in one goal games.
- I know Olli Jokinen brings a veteran presence to this team and contributes on the PK. That said, I think Olli is a liability on the second line, where he played much of the game with Mike Fisher and Colin Wilson. The Predators started to get their game going when the lines got juggled and Olli dropped down a line. Frankly, Olli doesn't have the speed and jam to play higher than the third line, and more reasonably belongs on the 4th line.
- One cannot overstate the contribution of Mike Fisher. He battles in front of the net, is strong on the puck, and is good in the face off circle. Fisher can score the timely goals that this team has to have. He lead all forwards tonight with 19:47 in TOI. Fisher has 10 points in his last 12 games (6G-4A), and the Predators have not lost a game when Fisher scores a goal (6-0).
- The Predators are now 26-9-4, and coupled with the loss by the Blackhawks now sit first in the Central Division with a 2 point lead over Chicago with 56 points.
The Predators jump back into divisional play on Thursday against the Dallas Stars.
Time to bring it for this one.
My three stars:
1. Roman Josi
2. Mike Fisher
3. Eric Staal