Saturday, January 2, 2016

Predators Pick Up First OT Win, Top the Canes 2-1

After getting trucked by the Dallas Stars on New Year's Eve, the Nashville Predators traveled to Raleigh to try to right the ship against the Carolina Hurricanes.

No easy task as the Hurricanes have been playing some excellent hockey in the month of December, while the Predators have sputtered.

The Predators didn't get run out of the building in this one, winning a hard fought 2-1 game that took overtime to decide it.

Victor Rask opened the scoring for the Canes as the Predators defense broke down and allowed him to swoop in uncontested and bang home a rebound that Pekka Rinne gave up.

With the Predators on the PK, Mattias Ekholm took a shot from the blue line that hit and broke Paul Gaustad's stick and fluttered past Eddie Lack to tie the game at 1.

That was all the scoring in regulation and once again the Predators were headed to the black hole known as 3 on 3 OT, where they had never won.

Well, it is a new year and hopefully new luck for the Predators as Mattias Ekholm drove the net and fired a shot over the shoulder for the game winner.

Some observations:

  • Cody Hodgson drew back into the line up. Austin Watson was the healthy scratch.
  • Calle Jarnkrok faced his cousin, Elias Lindholm, a center for the Hurricanes and a 2013 first round pick.
  • The Predators defense has uncharacteristically been breaking down in front of Rinne. The Canes first goal came when Victor Rask cleanly beat Mattias Ekholm to the front of the net to slam home a rebound. Rinne has made some big saves but has gotten very little help from his D recently. Until that trend changes, the Predators are going to continue to give up goals.
  • The Predators recorded their second shorthanded goal in the last 3 games. Mattias Ekholm figured on both of those, getting the goal in St. Louis and firing a shot that hit the stick of Paul Gaustad to change direction past Lack. This was Gaustad's first goal of the season.
  • It will be criminal if Roman Jois doesn't win the Norris. I defy anyone to show mw an NHL defenseman that has a more complete game than Josi. His play to break up a second period breakaway was stellar and demonstrated his speed and on ice awareness.
  • Once again, defensive breakdowns and turnovers resulted in a great scoring chance in the third period by Jeff Skinner. Only a superb save by Rinne kept the Canes off the board. Sheesh...the sloppy play at times by the Preds in the defensive zone is just stunning. Rinne made some amazing saves in the third period to keep the game tied.
  • Rinne stopped 27 of 28 shots.
  • The Predators power play was 0-4 and rarely looked crisp. The power play has been hot recently and the Predators need to keep that unit rolling.
  • In regulation, the Predators won 31 of 60 faceoffs and out hit the Canes 48-27. 
  • Carolina out shot the Predators 11-3 in the third period as the Predators had no offensive push at all. For the game, the Canes out shot the Preds 26-20.
  • Mattias Ekholm continues to blossom as a complete defenseman. He is a solid, physical presence that is seeing his offensive game grow nicely. I really like his pairing with mini-me Ryan Ellis as they compliment each other well.
  • Filip Forsberg picked up the assist on the game winner and nearly had the regulation winner as his wicked wrist shot hit both posts but never crossed the goal line.
This was a nice rebound game after the debacle in Dallas. Rinne was outstanding and the Predators did just enough to win the game.

Now it is time to start stringing together some wins.

A new year, a new game, boys.

My three stars:

1. Mattias Ekholm

2. Pekka Rinne

3. Paul Gaustad

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