Sunday, February 8, 2015

Predators Defeat the Panthers In a Shootout Again

In their first meeting in Nashville, the Predators held a 2-0 third period lead over the Florida Panthers before the Panthers scored 2 late in the third period to send the game to a shootout, which the Predators eventually won.

In their rematch in Florida, the roles were reversed as the Panthers had a 2-0 third period lead until the Predators scored twice in the third period to tie the game.

As in the first meeting, the game between these two teams went to a shoot out.

Once again, the Predators won in a shootout. And once again, Filip Forsberg got the game winner.

Deja vu, anyone?

After a scoreless first period, the Panthers used some sloppy play by the Predators to gain a 2-0 lead in the second period. Thomas Fleischman scored after Matt Cullen turned the puck over at the Predators blue line.

Aaron Ekblad, the Panthers stellar rookie, scored on a delayed penalty when he crashed the net and chipped a puck over the shoulder of Carter Hutton.

Roberto Luongo had a fairly easy time of it until the third period, when the Predators tallied twice on the power play.

Seth Jones scored from the point with Taylor Beck in front screening Luongo to make it 2-1.

Filip Forsberg scored from the slot with a shot over the shoulder of Luongo to tie the game at 2 with just under 5 minutes remaining in the game.

After a scoreless overtime, the game went to a shootout.

Matt Cullen, Craig Smith, and Filip Forsberg scored for the Predators, while Brad Boyes and Nick Bjugstad scored for the Panthers. Hutton stopped Dave Bolland in the fourth round to set up the heroics by Forsberg.

Some observations:

  • Colin Wilson missed this game and is called day to day with an upper body injury after absorbing a big hit in yesterday's game with the Rangers. Wilson was injured in the first period and did not play in the remainder of the game.
  • Olli Jokinen, a healthy scratch the last three games, was back in the line up and was on a line with Mike Fisher and James Neal.
  • The Predators faced brothers in back to back games. Kevin Hayes played against the Predators in the Rangers game, and his brother, Jimmy Hayes, was playing for the Panthers.
  • Mattias Ekholm left the game in the second period and did not return with an upper body injury after being ridden hard into the end boards.
  • The Predators did not look good at all on their entries into the zone. They didn't have much flow and were often disorganized throughout the game. They were also guilty of several turnovers, which cost them as the Panthers were able to convert them to goals.
  • Seth Jones scored on the power play and now has points in 4 straight games. Jones is elevating his game and just looks like he is getting stronger as the season grinds on, and this is good to see.
  • What a snipe by Filip Forsberg on the power play late in the third period to tie the game. Forsberg has great puck sense and gets to the scoring area. More importantly, he finishes his scoring chances. This was Forsberg's 18th goal, which ties Alexander Radulov's rookie goal scoring record.
  • High marks to the Predators power play. They weren't getting much done 5 on 5, but were able to convert two critical power plays to tie the game and pick up a point.
  • The Predators had been 1-3-2 in the second half of back to backs before todays game.
  • The Predators were out shot 36-25 in the game, including a 15-4 Florida advantage in the third period.
  • The Predators blocked 20 shots in front of Hutton.
  • I thought Hutton played a good game. He had to make some really good saves with traffic in front of him and kept the Predators in the game until they could get the tying goal.
  • Shea Weber led the Predators in TOI with 31:49. Roman Josi had 30:15 and Seth Jones had 25:30.
This was certainly not the best game that the Predators have played, and if we are honest, they stole the two points. They were outplayed throughout the game by a rested Panthers squad and looked dead in the water until the third period.

Yet this is what good teams do- they win some games they are not supposed to win.

With the win, the Predators now have a 4 point lead over the Blues and have leapfrogged the Ducks, who are playing this afternoon.

The Predators are now 35-12-6 and their next 4 games are at home.

Time to pile up some points.

My three stars:

1. Filip Forsberg

2. Carter Hutton

3. Aaron Ekblad

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