Monday, December 28, 2015

Predators Light Up Lundqvist in 5-3 Win Over the Rangers

The up and down Nashville Predators were definitely up in their contest against the New York Rangers at Bridgestone Arena. They tagged Rangers starter Henrik Lundqvist for 5 goals before chasing him from the game en route to a 5-3 win.

The Predators got 2 goals from James Neal, his first a wicked snipe from the slot that beat Lundqvist to give the Predators a 2-1 lead. His second was the Predators 5th goal, a tap in from the side of the net.

Filip Forsberg opened the scoring for the Predators on the power play with his 10th goal of the season, a blast from the face off circle that beat Lundqvist cleanly over his glove. Forsberg should have had a second goal in the third period but it was waved off after a lengthy review for a weak goaltender interference call on Craig Smith.

Jesper Fast scored to tie the game at 1 in the first period.

Leading 2-1 going into the third, the Predators exploded for 3 goals. Craig Smith scored on a deflection of a Roman Josi shot. Ryan Ellis scored on a shot from the face off circle with the Predators on the power play to make it 4-1 before Neal closed out the Predators scoring.

It got interesting late in the third period. Pekka Rinne was way out of his net to play the puck when he got hit with a massive brain fart. Rinne's clearing attempt went directly to Rick Nash, who promptly fired the puck into the vacated net to make it 5-2.

J. T. Miller scored to make it 5-3 before the Predators closed out the game for a big win.

Some observations:

  • The Predators welcomed back Mike Fisher, who had missed 11 games due to a leg injury. With Fisher's return, Colton Sissons was reassigned to Milwaukee. Fisher logged 16:47 of ice time, recorded one shot, and won 59% of his faceoffs.
  • The Predators opened the game with good jump and out shot the Rangers 15-6 in the first period. The game was a tight checking contest, but it swung in the third period when the Predators made a determined effort to drive the net. Doing this presented problems for Lundqvist and he was under siege with the traffic in front. The determination to get to the net resulted in the Predators breaking the game wide open. This is the way the Predators have to play and it was good to see them make that effort to do so tonight.
  • I like the play of Viktor Arvidsson, especially how he uses his speed to create and carry the puck. But if the Aardvark is going to have a long and successful career in the NHL, he is going to have to get stronger. He gets taken off the puck consistently because he is not strong enough.
  • Dadgum, if Roman Josi isn't one of the smoothest skaters with such good vision on the ice. Josi can break the pressure of any team and is excellent at dishing the puck to the open man. He picked up 2 assists tonight and caused problems for the Rangers defense all night.
  • I have heard so much about the Rangers speed, but the Predators were definitely a faster team tonight. Their speed put pressure on the Rangers D and had them chasing the puck all night. The Predators used that speed to create offensive chances and get quality shots on goal. The Predators out shot the Rangers 35-29 for the game. The Predators also used their speed and  defensive positioning to frustrate the Rangers offensive flow throughout the game.
  • The Predators are 11-1-2 when leading after 2 periods this season. The Rangers are 0-9-1 when trailing after 2 periods.
  • Lundqvist was pulled midway of the third period for Antti Raanta. This is the 4th time in his last 7 starts that Lundqvist has been chased from the game.
  • The Predators power play was 2 for 2 tonight. 
  • The Predators took only one penalty, which they killed.
  • Mike Ribeiro picked up 3 assists tonight and did a great job of distributing the puck. Ribeiro also won 67% of his faceoffs.
  • Craig Smith had a solid game. He scored from the top of the c rease off a deflection of a shot by Roman Josi. Smith did a great job of driving the net and creating havoc in front of Lundqvist.
  • James Neal showed what his quick release can do. He used it to beat Lundqvist cleanly from the slot to give the Predators a 2-1 lead. His second goal came with him parked right at the side of the net. This was Neal's 4th 2 goal game of the season and he now has 15 goals.
  • Former Predator Kevin Klein returned to the blue line for the Rangers after missing 11 games due to an injury.
This was a win that was pure Predators hockey. Using their speed to create and going to the front of the net yielded the kind of results that this team needs to have night in and night out.

Now they have to bring this kind of effort consistently.

My three stars:

1. James Neal

2. Mike Ribeiro

3. Roman Josi

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