Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Predators Explode Out of Their Slump, Defeat the Coyotes 5-2

The Nashville Predators have been in a slump and have struggled to score goals and get a bit of puck luck.

Through two periods against the Arizona Coyotes at Bridgestone Arena, the struggles looked as if they would continue. The Predators had out shot the Coyotes 27-10 and had hit 5 posts. When they looked at the scoreboard, they trailed 2-1 and looked as if they would not be able to solve Coyotes goalie Mike Smith.

The hockey gods- along with a lot of hard work by the Predators- changed their fortunes in the third period as the Predators exploded for 4 goals en route to a 5-2 victory.

The Coyotes opened the scoring in the first period on the power play as Oliver Ekman-Larsson sent a seeing eye shot through traffic from the high slot that completely eluded Pekka Rinne.

The Predators returned the favor on a power play in the second period as Calle Jarnkrok redirected a slap pass from Shea Weber between the pads of Mike Smith to tie the game at 1.

Late in the second period, Kyle Chipchura outworked the Predators defense to the front of the net and was able to chip the puck past Rinne to send the Coyotes into the second intermission with a 2-1 lead.

That would be all the Coyotes could get past Rinne and it set the stage for the Predators offense to get on track.

Mike Ribeiro stole the puck in the offensive zone and beat Smith from the slot to tie the game.

Filip Forsberg wove his way through the Coyotes defense and worked to some open space in the slot and beat Smith low stick side to give the Predators their first lead of the game at 4:49 of the third period.

Forsberg would take a nice pass from Ribeiro and laser a wrist shot past Smith to make it 4-2.

James Neal iced the game with an empty net goal to give the Predators their final margin of 5-2.

Some observations:

  • Big ups to the Predators defense. The Coyotes have shown they can be explosive and have some talented players, including dynamic rookie Max Domi and second year man Anthony Duclair. The Predators defense limited the Coyotes to only 15 shots for the entire game. The Coyotes did not register their first shot on goal until 8:34 of the first period. They had 4 shots in the first; 6 in the second; and 5 in the third. The Predators also blocked 18 shots from the Coyotes.
  • I can't fault Rinne for the goals he gave up. The power play was a seeing eye shot that made its way through a maze of bodies, a shot he never saw until it was in the net. The Chipchura goals was just hard work by the Coyotes forward, who worked his way into prime scoring territory and was able to bang the puck past Rinne. Rinne did not have a lot of work, obviously, but he made a spectacular save on Domi in the first period. Domi had an empty net but Rinne was able to reach back with his paddle and sweep the puck off the goal line to keep the Coyotes off the board. Truly a candidate for the save of the year.
  • The injury bug hit the Predators hard again as Mike Fisher crashed into the boards early in the second period and looked to have injured a knee. He was barely able to get off the ice and went straight to the locker room. He did not return to the game.
  • This game had the makings of another frustrating outing for the Predators. The difference this time, and what swung the game in their favor, was that they kept attacking with traffic to the net. Mike Smith was outstanding through two period, turning away some prime scoring opportunities by the Predators. The Predators were relentless in their attack and kept putting pucks on the net with bodies in front. This is something they have not done consistently when they were in their funk, and hopefully they see how this formula can yield success.
  • I really like the play of Calle Jarnkrok. He has stepped up his game and has been flying on the ice and is willing to go to the hard areas. The Predators first goal was a result of Jarnkrok establishing position in the low slot and being able to redirect the Weber pass. Jarnkrok ate up some big minutes after the Fisher injury, playing 25 shifts and logging 20:20 of ice time. He was also 9 of 19 in the face off circle.
  • This is only the second time this season that the Predators have won a game when trailing after two periods.
  • The Predators are now 6-0-1 in their last 7 games against the Coyotes.
  • Shea Weber picked up 3 assists and was a +3 on the night. He led the Predators in TOI with 24:12.
  • Filip Forsberg had a team high 8 shots on goal and had 2 goals and an assist.
  • Roman Josi blocked a team high 5 shots.
  • Colin Wilson was scratched tonight. No word on an injury, but Wilson has been ice cold this season. Cody Bass was called up from Milwaukee and took his place in the line up.
  • Another player that stood out to me tonight was Viktor Arvidsson. He was flying all over the ice and his battle level was better than at any time he has been up with the Predators. He won puck battles and kept plays alive. He logged 21 shifts and 18:57 of ice time.
This was a win the Predators really needed. Hopefully it gets their confidence back where it needs to be and they start finding the net consistently.

Busting out of the slump is sweet.

Now we have to overcome injuries and keep it rolling.

My three stars:

1. Filip Forsberg

2. Shea Weber

3. Mike Ribeiro

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