Monday, March 14, 2016

Neal's Hat Trick Leads the Predators to A 3-2 Win Over the Oilers

The Nashville Predators wrapped up 2 weeks on the road with a stop at Rexall Place to take on the Edmonton Oilers. The Predators 14 game point streak was stopped in their last game, a 4-2 loss to the Canucks, and the Predators were looking to get back to the win column to maintain their lead in the Western Conference Wild Card race.

James Neal would carry the Predators to the 3-2 win, scoring all of the Predators goals.

Jordan Eberle and Neal tallied in the first period to send the teams into the first intermission tied at 1. Eberle scored after a turnover by the Predators and was set up by Connor McDavid. Eberle redirected a perfect pass from McDavid in the low slot. Neal tallied off a head man pass from Anthony Bitetto for a breakaway goal.

Iiro Pakarinen took advantage of a broken stick of Mattias Ekholm to make it 2-1 early in the second period, taking a centering pass that Matty Ek could not defend, lifting a shot that floated over the shoulder of Pekka Rinne.. That goal was immediately answered by Neal, who notched his second goal from outside the face off circle with a shot through traffic that beat Laurent Brossoit to tie the game at 2.

Neal would strike again in the third period for his third goal of the game with a wicked wrist shot to give the Predators a 3-2 lead.

The Predators would hold off the Oilers with Brossoit pulled for the extra attacker for the final 1:23. Shea Weber was in the box for the final 12 seconds to give the Oilers a 6 on 4 advantage, but the Predators defenders and Rinne were solid and secured the 3-2 win.

Some observations:

  • After being a healthy scratch for the last 5 games, Barret jackman drew back into the line up. Petter Granberg was a scratch.
  • Connor McDavid was in the line up for the Oilers, having missed the last contest between the two team with a broken collarbone.
  • A brutal turnover by Shea Weber led to the Oilers first goal. Those are the types of plays this team has to clean up or they will be haunted by them in the remainder of this season.
  • Nice pass from Anthony Bitetto to spring James Neal for the Predators first goal. Bitetto had his head up and put the pass right on the tape of Neal's stick. Neal's first period goal was his 24th of the season.
  • Neal carried the Predators offensively, picking up a hat trick. His goals came off his wickedly quick release that left Brossoit with no chance on the shot. When Neal is on, he is a handful for the opposing defense, and he was on tonight.
  • Pekka Rinne had to make some big saves, especially in the second period as the Predators gave up several odd man rushes and breakaways. Indicative of the sloppy play and turnovers by the Predators that gave a dangerous group of forwards from the Oilers some good scoring chances.
  • The third period saw the Predators defense settle down and do a better job of limiting the quality scoring chances by the Oilers. They were especially good at disrupting the Oilers speed coming through the neutral zone.
  • The Predators PK continues their excellent play, killing all 3 of the Oilers power play chances. The PK unit has killed 18 straight power plays.
  • The Predators power play continues to struggle, going 0-2 and not generating any quality chances. Gotta improve this area, boys. 
  • Calle Jarnkrok has continued to blossom on the first line. He plays in all situations and gives the Predators quality minutes and lots of jump. He picked up 2 assists tonight.
  • The Predators picked up 7 out of a possible 10 points on this 5 game road trip.

This game was not pretty by any stretch, but it was a good win against a team that has explosive offensive potential. It is especially heartening to see the team bounce back after the dud of a game against Vancouver.

Kudos to James Neal, who put the team on his back and provided all the offense the Predators would need. It is important to have contributions from all lines and all players, and Neal was superb tonight with his second hat trick as a Predator.

The Preds return home to take on the Islanders on Thursday.

Time to keep piling up the points.

My three stars:

1. James Neal

2. Pekka Rinne

3. Calle Jarnkrok

No comments:

Post a Comment