Monday, December 21, 2015

Predators Hang 5 on the Habs In 5-1 Victory

There have been games in the last few weeks where the Nashville Predators outplayed their opponent but came up on the losing end of the scoreboard.

That role was reversed tonight at Bridgestone Arena, where the visiting Montreal Canadiens outshot and outplayed the Predators but came up on the short end of a 5-1 score.

This was the first time the Predators have won back to back games in 4 weeks.

The Canadiens outshot the Predators 36-19 for the game.

The Predators did not record their second shot of the game until 8:40 of the first period, but it was a rocket from Shea Weber that found its way perfectly through a maze of bodies to beat Dustin Tokarski for a 1-0 Predators lead.

The Predators first shot of the second period came 8:22 in with the man advantage, and it was a blast from Roman Josi that hit both posts and fell into the net for a 2-0 Predators lead.

Ryan Ellis gave the Predators a 3-0 lead at 3:08 of the third period as his point shot deflected off a Habs defender and past Tokarski. That goal, the third on just 14 shots, ended Tokarski's night and saw Mike Condon take over the net for the Habs.

Calle Jarnkrok welcomed Condon to the game with a shot from the slot to make it 4-0 for the Predators.

The Habs appeared to have scored midway of the third period, but that goal would be overturned on a challenge from Peter Laviolette as it was deemed that Pekka Rinne had been interfered with trying to make the save.

Montreal would end Rinne's shutout bid with a power play goal by Alex Galchenyuk.

Colin Wilson would score the final goal on an empty netter.

Some observations:

  • The Habs dominated play all night, winning puck battles, controlling the boards, and knocking Predators off the puck. It is a testament to the Predators resolve and resilience in hanging in and getting timely scoring to secure the win.
  • There is no doubt that the Predators D pair of Shea Weber and Roman Josi are the best in the NHL. These two defenders have combined for 19 goals and 32 assists. Even when teams are trying to take away their space and limit their scoring chances, these guys find a way to score. Weber has 15 points in the month of December, the most by any player in the NHL. 
  • Good on Colin Wilson for finally getting his game going. Wilson picked up 2 assists to go along with his empty net goal, his second of the year. Wilson played a solid game, and hopefully this gets him going. Wilson moved up to the second line in an attempt to get his game going, and it was a great call by the coaching staff. 
  • I really liked the play of Colton Sissons and Miikka Salomaki. They played some hard minutes and their effort on the forecheck created some disruption for the Habs as well as being solid in the defensive zone. Sissons was also 50% in the face off circle.
  • Calle Jarnkrok continues to impress and play some very good hockey. Jarnkrok picked up his 6th goal of the season and has been solid in all zones. Jarnkrok has stepped into the role of first line center and has acquitted himself well in that role.
  • You have to realize how much the Canadiens miss the injured Carey Price after watching this game. The inability to make timely saves by Tokarski and Condon cost them this game, because they clearly outplayed the Predators. The Habs have now lost 8 of their last 9 games.
  • The Predators have not lost in regulation to the Canadiens at Bridgestone Arena since March 10, 2003. The Predators are 5-0-3 in their last 8 games against the Canadiens.
  • The Predators were 1 for 3 on the power play and killed off 2 of 3 Habs power plays.
  • The Predators won 31 of 56 faceoffs, good for 55%
  • Pekka Rinne was outstanding tonight. He was under pressure all game and kept the Predators in it in the first period while the Habs were bombing shots at the net. If Rinne had not been as sharp as he was, the outcome of this game would have definitely been different. Rinne tracked the puck well and frustrated the Habs with his glove and his athleticism in net. Rinne has looked like the Rinne of old in the last couple of games and that is a huge positive for this team.
Kinda nice to see the tables turned, eh?

Getting outplayed but coming up with a huge win.

Predators fans have too often recently been on the wrong side of that story, but tonight, the roles were reversed and the Predators picked up a much needed win.

Time to enjoy the holidays and come back Saturday and keep the momentum going.

My three stars.

1. Pekka Rinne

2. Roman Josi

3. Shea Weber

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