Thursday, November 5, 2015

Predators Survive Penalties, Hand the Wild Their First Home Loss

The Predators returned to action on their CMA road trip with a stop at the Xcel Energy Center to take on the Minnesota Wild for their first meeting of the season.

This is the Predators first game since their meeting with the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday. The Predators are squaring off against a Wild team that is 5-0 on home ice this season.

Pekka Rinne started between the pipes for the Predators, while the Wild had Devan Dubnyk in net.

After a scoreless first period, Mike Fisher broke the tie in the second period with a snap shot that beat Dubnyk stick side.

That lead stood until 17:36 of the second as the Wild scored on the power play as Marco Scandella beat Rinne to tie the game at 1.

Just 12 seconds into the third period, Roman Josi fired a shot from outside the face off circle that beat Dubnyk through traffic to give the Predators a 2-1 lead.

*I still don't think that Lyin Ryan Suter is better than Josi, and the numbers bear me out*

The Predators tempted fate by taking consecutive penalties and had to kill a 5 on 3. They were successful in that, but during the remaining power play, Matthew Dumba beat Rinne through traffic from the point to tie the game.

Cody Hodgson followed his own shot that Dubnyk could not control and gave the Predators a 3-2 lead. This was his first goal of the season and was a great hustle play to follow his shot.

A weak penalty call against Colin Wilson meant that the Predators were going to finish the final 1:39 down a man.

The penalty killers came up big and the Predators handed the Wild their first home loss by a 3-2 count.

Some observations:

  •  This was the Predators first Central Division contest of the season. Both teams entered the contest with 16 points.
  • While the Predators were finishing 10 days on the road, this was only their 4th game in this 2 week trip. 
  • In his short time with the big club, Mikka Salomaki has brought a physical presence and a good fit to the second line. His physical play has opened up space for Craig Smith and Mike Ribeiro. It has also allowed Colin Wilson to drop to the third line, which has given him more favorable defensive match ups. It will be a big plus for the Predators if both those players can get their game going on their new lines.
  • Salomaki was called up due to an injury to Eric Nystrom, who has missed the last two games.
  • James Neal is a sniper, but you cannot underestimate his physical game. Zach Parise did, and got blown up in the first period by Neal. Parise finished the first period but did not return to the game in the second period and was called out for the remainder of the game with a lower body injury.
  • Pekka Rinne had a lot of work and had to make some good saves with lots of traffic in front. Rinne did a very good job of tracking the puck and being positionally sound to frustrate the Wild.
  • Welcome to the score sheet, Cody Hodgson. It took a while, but glad to see you find the back of the net. Hopefully this will open the door to your scoring touch. The Predators would welcome it.
  • The Predators got sloppy with their penalties, especially in the third period. This is playing with fire against one of the best power play teams in the NHL. I really don't think the Wild were going to score 5 on 5 tonight, but the Predators kept them in the game with their transgressions.
  • This was a very physical game, with not only Parise but Calle Jarnkrok and Paul Gaustad having to take trip to the locker room after getting dinged during play. Both of the Predators were able to return and finish the game.
  • The Predators were out shot 29-24.
  • The Predators blocked 23 shots.
  • The Predators escaped with this win. They had 14 penalty minutes to the Wild's 4 and took the only 4 penalties in the third period.
  • That said, the Predators penalty killers did a very good job against an exceptional power play team. The Predators killed off 5 of 7 chances the Wild had with the man advantage.
 This was a tough game and a scrappy win by the Predators against a tough Divisional opponent.

The thing I like the most about this win is that in times past, this was the type of game that would have seen the Predators wilt in the face of adversity like they faced tonight. Instead, they kept coming at the Wild and refused to quit.

And it was certainly a good way to start play in the division.

My three stars:

1. Cody Hodgson

2. Pekka Rinne

3. Roman Josi

* honorable mention: Mike Fisher

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