Monday, February 22, 2016

Predators Ride A Strong Game From Rinne to Defeat the Canadiens In A Shootout 2-1

The Nashville Predators began a 3 game road trip by stopping at the Bell Centre to take on the Montreal Canadiens in their second and last meeting of the season. The Predators captured a 5-1 win at Bridgestone Arena in December.

An early goal by Viktor Arvidsson gave the Predators a 1-0 lead just 3:16 into the first period.

A late first period goal by Brendan Gallagher in a goal mouth scramble tied the game at 1 with 1:17 remaining in the first period.

The remainder of regulation was a grinding contest that saw Pekka Rinne and Mike Condon both make some good saves and neither team find the back of the net. Rinne stopped 26 of 27 shots he faced in regulation, while Condon stopped 28 of 29.

For the 12th time this season, the Predators were heading to OT and they were looking for only their 2nd win in the extra session.

The Predators at least didn't lose this game in OT as neither team could score, even though it looked as if Craig Smith would end the game but managed to bat his own shot away from a wide open net.

Craig Smith would redeem himself in the shootout as he was the only player to score to give the Predators a 2-1 win.

Some observations:

  • Though small in stature, Viktor Arvidsson is not afraid to go into high traffic areas and in front of the net. He was rewarded with the first goal of the game by going to the the front of the net and eluded the Habs D to bang a puck behind Condon. I think the Aardvark can mature into a dangerous player with some more physical strength and experience.
  • The Predators defense was victimized by failing to clear the front of the crease in front of Rinne. Brendan Gallagher was able to establish position on Shea Weber and bang a puck past Rinne to tie the game. The defense has been better recently in clearing the front of the net and they cannot lapse back into letting the opponent establish position in prime scoring areas.
  • Rinne was called upon to make some very good saves, especially in the second period as the Canadiens seized momentum early. Rinne has seemed to be more calm in the net and still has the ability to make the athletic save when called upon. He seems to be playing with more confidence lately, and that is good for the Predators. Rinne has allowed just 3 goals in his last 3 starts, and this is the caliber of play that we have to have to rack up points.
  • Craig Smith had a glorious chance to score late in OT and somehow couldn't get the puck into a wide open net. Truly the hockey gods hate the Predators in OT.
  • But how good was it to see the coaching staff put Smith out in the third round of the shootout and to see him beat Condon top shelf. Smith plays with abandon and to see him get redemption with the game winner in the shootout was sweet.
  • The Predators actually played the OT period with purpose and a sense of urgency. While they didn't win in the OT period, at least they were more competitive than have been all season. There is too much offensive talent on this team not to attack and press the play in a 3 on 3 format, and they did that tonight and although they didn't score, it was still a positive outcome.
This was a big win for the Predators as points are now precious. The Predators now have 67 points to move 1 point in front of Colorado with 2 games in hand.It also places them 3 points in front of the Wild, how have been hot of late.

The Predators have to continue to amass points and play with a sense of desperation.

This was a good start.

My three stars:

1. Pekka Rinne

2. Craig Smith

3. Viktor Arvidsson 

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