Thursday, February 12, 2015

Predators Ground the Jets 3-1

Shea Weber wasn't at the morning skate because he wasn't feeling well, and he was called a game time decision for the Predators in their game against the Winnipeg Jets at Bridgestone Arena.

Weber was in the line up, and the Predators were glad to have him as he tallied a goal and 2 assists in leading the Predators to a 3-1 win over the Jets.

Weber opened the scoring on the power play as he launched a bomb from the face off that beat Ondrej Pavelec cleanly 4:47 into the first period.

The Jets answered with a power play goal of their own as a Dustin Byfuglien shot from the point was redirected past Pekka Rinne by Michael Frolik to tie the game at 1 in the first period.

The Predators used another power play goal in the second period to take a 2-1 lead. Filip Forsberg skated the puck into the face off circle and snapped a wrist shot top corner past Pavelec. James Neal was screening in front of Pavelec, and he didn't know the puck was past him until he heard the goal horn.

The Predators had played fairly evenly with the Jets through two periods, but in the third, the Jets applied pressure and dominated the Predators in time of possession and zone time.

The Predators didn't help themselves by taking consecutive penalties by Victor Bartley and Shea Weber, which gave the Jets 91 seconds of 5 on 3 advantage.

The Predators penalty killers stepped up and blocked shots and Rinne made a couple of spectacular saves to keep the Jets off the board.

James Neal iced the game with a wrap around goal that went between the pads of Pavelec for the final margin of 3-1.

Some observations:

  • Colin Wilson was back in the line up and played a strong game. he was robbed in the first period by a great save from Pavelec, but Wilson was active in all zones and did a great job with puck possession. He played 13 minutes of solid hockey, including delivering a booming hit on T.J. Galiardi behind the Jets net.
  • With Wilson back in the line up, Viktor Stalberg was reassigned to Milwaukee.
  • Filip Forsberg's power play goal was a perfectly placed shot to the top corner. Forsberg has such good hockey sense and patience with the puck and on this goal saw that he was not being pressured by the Jets defense and skated in until Neal got the screen and placed the shot into the small space that he had to shoot. This was Forsberg's 19th goal of the season and gives outright ownership of the Predators rookie scoring record. Forsberg has 11 points (4G-7A) in his last 11 games.
  • Tyler Myers and Drew Stafford made their debuts for the Jets after being traded from the Sabres. Late in the third period, Myers was welcomed to the Central Division when he took a Weber slap shot off his knee. The shot dropped Myers and he was barely able to get back to his feet. James Neal exploited this to get around Myers and the net for the final goal. Myers barely made it to bench and went directly to the locker room and did not return to the game.
  • With the win, the Predators are the first team in the NHL to reach 80 points.
  • Roman Josi continues his strong play and picked up two assists tonight. This gives Josi 40 points (10G-30A), a career high.
  • James Neal tallied his 19th goal of the season. He is tied with Forsberg for the lead in goals.
  • The power play has had its struggles this season, but tonight it was clicking. They were 2-6 and Neal's goal came just after a power play expired. The Predators did a good job of getting pucks to the net and both Neal and Mike Fisher did a good job of screening in front of Pavelec. Simplifying the power play like the Preds did tonight has yielded some positive results.
  • The Jets are a talented team and they are fighting to maintain their playoff position. In truth, they are a desperate team and they played like it tonight. There were stretches of the second period and most of the third period where the Jets dominated puck possession and exhausted the Predators defenders. 
  • Because of that, Rinne had to make some fantastic saves. He was especially sharp in the third period, making a diving save of a Bryan Little shot. He was very good in the 5 on 3 and was a calming presence for the Predators defense when the Jets were pressing to get the tying goal.Rinne stopped 32 of 33 shots he faced and picked up his League leading 32nd win.
  • Rinne is also 7-0-0 against the Jets.
  • This was the Predators first home win by more than one goal since January 16th (5-1 against Vancouver).
  • This was the Predators 4th straight win. The Predators are now 23-3-1 on home ice.
This was a solid win against a hungry team that is fighting to stay in the playoff race. The Jets are talented and desperate, and the Predators responded to the challenge they presented.

My three stars:

1. Pekka Rinne

2. Shea Weber

3. Filip Forsberg

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