Saturday, December 19, 2015

Predators Stop Losing Streak, Defeat the Wild 3-2

The Nashville Predators needed a fast start against the Minnesota Wild at Bridgestone Arena.

Scoring on your first shot on goal qualifies as fast.

The Predators rode a tip in goal by Filip Forsberg just 46 seconds into the game along with a first period goal from Mike Ribeiro and a second period goal by James Neal to a 3-2 win to snap a 3 game losing streak.

Forsberg tipped in a rebound of a shot by Shea Weber that Devan Dubnyk could not control.

Shea Weber was involved in the Predators second goal as well. The Predators had a two man advantage when Weber launched a blast from the point that was tipped by Dubnyk by Mike Ribeiro for a 2-0 lead.

Pekka Rinne did not have a lot of work in the first period as the Wild could only muster 7 shots. He did face a penalty shot as Ryan Ellis was called for hooking on a break away by Jason Zucker. Rinne was up to the task as he stopped Zucker with his glove to keep the Wild off the board.

James Neal notched his 13th goal of the season in the second period as he beat Dubnyk from the face off circle to give the Predators a 3-0 lead.

The Predators would need every one of those goals as Zach Parise tipped a point shot from Marco Scandella past Rinne to make it 3-1.

Going into the third period, the Wild pressed and tried to make it a game. They did just that as Zucker was able to dig the puck out of the skates of Neal off a face off and get loose in the low slot to beat Rinne over the glove.

Zucker's goal made it 3-2 and upped the pucker factor in the arena exponentially.

The Predators were able to thwart the final push by the Wild and captured a much needed 3-2 win.

Some observations:

  • The Predators won this game in two critical areas: they controlled the neutral zone, both offensively and defensively; and they did an excellent job of getting traffic to the net. The Predators were able to defeat the Wild's trap by making smart passes through the neutral zone and making players available to receive the breakout passes. The Wild try to trap the life out of a team and the Predators consistently broke the trap and got the puck deep. Once they got the puck deep in the zone, they did a good job of retrieving it and controlling the play. They also got traffic to the net and the first 2 goals were a direct result of going hard to the net.
  • The traffic going to the net is something that the Predators have not done consistently in this slump, so it was good to see them make a consistent and concerted effort to do that tonight.
  • The Predators forecheck disrupted the Wild's offensive flow all night. They held the Wild to single digits in shots every period (7, 6, and 9) while also forcing 8 turnovers. The Predators forecheck also allowed the offense to control the puck and this was reflected in their shot totals. They had 39 for the game and had 13, 14. and 12 by period.
  • Those shot totals by the Predators showed they did not take their foot off the gas throughout the game. All too often, the Predators have been content to sit on a lead in the third period and hope for the best. Tonight, they kept attacking throughout the game and it was critical to securing the win.
  • The Predators are 10-1-2 when they lead after two periods.
  • By contrast, they are 2-9-2 when they trail after 2 periods.
  • This is the 19th game this season that the Predators have recorded at least 30 shots on goal.
  • The Predators played a very disciplined game. Ellis was called for hooking that resulted in the aforementioned penalty shot by Zucker. They took one other penalty, a holding call on Viktor Arvidsson in the third period that they killed.
  • The Predators recorded a 5 on 3 power play goal, their first of the season. They Wild gave up their first 5 on 3 goal of the season.
To say that the Predators needed this win is both a blinding flash of the obvious and a huge understatement. The fact that the Predators were able to step up their game and get this win speaks volumes about their character.

Now the big challenge for the Predators will be to start stringing together these kinds of efforts and getting some back to back wins.

My three stars:

1. Mike Ribeiro

2. Shea Weber

3. James Neal

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