Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Hutton Shines In 2-1 Win Over the Flames

The Nashville Predators wrapped up their 4 game Canadian road trip with a stop at the Scotia Bank Saddledome for a tilt with the Calgary Flames. The Predators were looking to make it a 4-0 road trip after capturing the first three contests and working themselves back into the playoff hunt.

Carter Hutton got the start for the Predators, and they staked him to a 2-0 lead through the end of 2 periods. Mike Ribeiro was the beneficiary of a great drive into the zone by Craig Smith and he buried a shot from the slot past Kari Ramo to give the Predators a 1-0 lead at the end of the first period.

Shea Weber hammered home a blast from the face off circle with the Predators on the power play to send them into the locker room after two periods with a 2-0 lead.

Mark Giordano cut that lead to 2-1 with a perfectly placed shot to the top corner early in the third period.

For the second straight game, the Predators were going to have to kill a penalty to end regulation and preserve the win.

The Flames swarmed the offensive zone, skating 6 on 4, but the Predators penalty killers and especially Hutton came up big to lock down the win.

Some observations:

  • Lines juggled again as Filip Forsberg moved up to the top line with Ryan Johansen and James Neal. Mike Ribeiro dropped down to a wing on a line with Craig Smith and Calle Jarnkrok.
  • Eric Nystrom was injured in last night's game with Vancouver when he took a Shea Weber blast off his foot. According to a comment from Stu Grimson on the broadcast, Nystrom suffered a broken foot.
  • Kevin Fiala drew back into the line up and was on a line with Mike Fisher and Austin Watson.
  • Craig smith has been playing some very good hockey on this road trip. He is using his speed to open up the ice and the Predators first goal tonight was the result of smith driving the wing and spreading out the defense, leaving Ribeiro alone in the slot. Smith can be an impact player if he plays a simple hockey game, and that is something he has been doing consistently on this road trip.
  • Lots of unnecessary penalties in the first period. Brain fart penalties. Fortunately for the Predators, the PK was up to the task, but they can't keep tempting fate.
  • Strong defense by the Predators in the first period. Calgary was held to 4 shots on goal even with the power plays and didn't record their first shot on net until the game was 9 minutes old.
  • Goodness, Weber just flat out blew the shot past Ramo on the power play. Weber got open in the face off circle and loaded up on the shot. Ramo got his glove up, but well after the puck had found the back of the net. When Weber steps into a shot cleanly it is deadly. Just ask Eric Nystrom.
  • Carter Hutton played an excellent game. He made some huge saves, especially in the last minute of play to preserve the win. The only goal he gave up was a perfectly placed shot through traffic. Hutton has looked strong in his last two outing and secured critical wins for the team. Hutton is now 5-2-1 in his starts this season.
  • The Predators were back on their heels for most of the third period. The Flames out shot the Predators 16-7, which only emphasizes the quality of play from Hutton tonight.
  • The Predators PK was stellar, killing all 4 of the Flames man advantage opportunities. The Predators PK has killed 26 of the last 27 power plays from their opponents.
This was the type of game that in the recent past the Predators would have allowed to slip away. Now, they are playing with some confidence and starting to get their swagger back. The last two games have shown this team is refusing to buckle under pressure, and that is a great sign going forward.

The Predators win gives them 4 wins in a row for the first time since October.

Now they need to keep building on this momentum after the All Star break.

My three stars:

1. Carter Hutton

2. Shea Weber

3. Mike Ribeiro

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