Saturday, February 28, 2015

Predators Can't Hold A Lead, Fall to Wings 4-3

Defensive breakdowns and an unlucky bounce doomed the Nashville Predators as they dropped a 4-3 decision to the Detroit Red Wings at Bridgestone Arena.

This was the Predators second loss in a row on home ice, where they have been dominant this season.

Tomas Tatar scored the game winner with the Wings on the power play as his shot deflected off the stick of Roman Josi and past Pekka Rinne.

The Wings jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals from Brendan Smith and Drew Miller. Miller's goal was one that Rinne would like to have back as he got most of the shot but it trickled over his pad an into the net.

The Predators would answer just 30 seconds after the Miller goal as Matt Cullen would gather in a rebound that Jonas Gustavsson could not handle. Cullen banged in the loose puck in the blue paint to make it 2-1.

Mike Fisher scored from in close, roofing a shot over the shoulder of Gustavsson to tie the game midway of the second period.

The Predators took a 3-2 lead on the power play as Shea Weber unleashed a bomb that Gustavsson did not see until it hit the back of the net to send the Predators into the second intermission with their first lead of the game.

Alexey Marchenko tied the game at 3 with a perfectly placed blast that went top corner on Rinne.

Tatar's game winner came at 9:06 in the third.

Although the Predators had two late power plays, they could not get the equalizer.

Some observations:

  • The Predators got 9 shots on net in the first period, but rarely challenged Gustavsson. The Predators seemed content to shoot from the point and hope to get rebounds and second chance opportunities. They did not even come close. The momentum swung to their favor in the second period when they started attacking the net. This is the Predators most effective style of play, and when they get away from that, the Predators are a very average team.
  • The Predators got very sloppy and undisciplined in the third period. Of the 8 penalties the Predators took in the game, 5 came in the third period. One was a weak embellishment call on Filip Forsberg after he was tripped. Regardless, the Predators made the hill a lot steeper having to kill off 8 minutes with Detroit on the power play.
  • Mike Ribeiro was 5 for 7 in the faceoff circle, but lost every offensive zone draw he took. this is just frankly a huge momentum killer for the Predators. he was replaced on the top line by Mike Fisher late in the game for some more prowess on the faceoff dot. However, Fisher was not any better, going 8 of 20.
  • Pekka Rinne made some huge saves in the first period as the Wings had several quality scoring chances. As mentioned, he would like to have had Miller's goal back, one that was easily stoppable. There was nothing he could do on Tatar's game winner as the puck completely changed direction off of Josi's stick.
  • The Predators were 1-7 on the power play. They had two opportunities late in the game but never seriously challenged Gustavsson. While Weber got some good looks, the Predators rarely had traffic in front of Gustavsson, and this is the aspect of the power play that has to improve. That, and just getting the puck into the zone.
  • The Predators defense has not been as sharp recently. The team has given up 8 goals in their last 2 games and some breakdowns have resulted in the puck finding the back of our net. Part of this is getting Cody Franson meshed with his defense partner. Part of it is just some uncharacteristically sloppy play.
  • Ryan Ellis was scratched for this game. His knee is still not healed well enough to play and there is no word as to when he might be back in the lineup.
  • The Predators have a much more potent offense, but this trend of giving up the first goal in the game is troubling. It will be even more troubling in the playoffs.
  • Roman Josi picked up two assists, his 8th multi-point game this season.
  • Shea Weber led the team in TOI with 30:15.
  • The Predators had 15 games in the month of February and went 10-4-1.
The Predators level of play over the past few games has fallen from elite to average. Playing average hockey against good teams often leads to a loss, and this is what the Predators are facing right now.

It is no time to panic, but it is time for the team to pay attention to the details and elevate their game.

My three stars:

1. Tomas Tatar

2. Matt Cullen

3. Drew Miller

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