Monday, March 21, 2016

Playoff Preview? Predators De-throne the Kings 5-2

In a potential playoff match up, The Nashville Predators blitzed the Los Angeles Kings 5-2 at Bridgestone Arena behind a 3 goal second period outburst.

Ryan Johansen had a goal and 2 assists; James Neal had a goal and an assist; Mike Fisher added a power play goal; Filip Forsberg scored his 30th; and Roman Josi finished the scoring with an empty netter.

Drew Doughty and Alec Martinez tallied for the Kings.

After a scoreless first period, James Neal took a pass from Ryan Johansen and sniped a shot past Jonathan Quick to open the scoring.

Mike Fisher, on a night where the team honored him for his 1,000th NHL game, took a shot from the face off circle that Quick kicked out to the slot. Fisher followed his shot and poked it past Quick while falling down to make it 2-0.

Filip Forsberg finished the second period scoring, tapping a rebound past Quick for his 30th goal of the season and making it 3-0 Predators.

That scoring outburst would chase Quick from the game and Jonas Enroth would enter the net for the third period.

The Kings started to claw back into the game when Drew Doughty took a shot from the point that hit the stick of Roman Josi and caromed past Rinne to make it 3-1 just 28 seconds into the third period.

Alec Martinez increased the pucker factor among Pred fans with a shot from the point that went through traffic and eluded Rinne to make it 3-2.

Ryan Johansen gave the Predators some breathing room when he redirected a Shea Weber shot over the pads of Enroth to make it 4-2.

Roman Josi added a 200 foot emty net goal to seal the win for the Predators.

Some observations:

  • Filip Forsberg became just the 5th Predator to tally 30 or more goals and the first to do it since Patric Hornqvist in 2009-10. Forsberg just has great hockey sense to go along with his superb skills. He knows how to find the quiet areas of the ice and reads plays well. This allows him to get into prime scoring position and he has the skills set to take advantage. A solid night tonight for Forsberg as he was physical and strong on the puck.
  • Big ups to Mike Fisher. On a night where he was honored for the milestone of 1,000 games, Fisher scored a gritty power play goal and was a force in all zones tonight. Fisher is that solid leader that every team must have, and he does and excellent job in that role. Fisher's goal was all heart, fighting through traffic to get his rebound in the slot, and he had the presence to put the puck in the net while being knocked to the ice. All heart.
  • He didn't get on the score sheet tonight, but Viktor Arvidsson played an excellent game. he used his speed to create in the offensive zone and to harass the Kings on the forecheck. He gives up a lot in stature, but nothing in character. If the Aardvark can get stronger, he will be a dangerous player. 
  • With 2 points tonight, James Neal has 400 career points.
  • In their last 9 games, the Predators are 6-0-3 against the Kings. think this would be an amazing playoff match up?
  • The Predators killed off all 4 of the Kings power plays and have killed off the last 27 man advantage attempts by their opponents.
  • The Predators are starting to assert themselves again on home ice. The now have points in 8 straight games at Bridgestone Arena.
  • Pekka Rinne was outstanding, thwarting some good scoring chances by the Kings. Rinne tracked the puck well, and although he was beaten twice, the shots that beat him were impossible to stop. The confidence that Rinne is playing with has spread to the team in front of him and it is reflected in their level of play. This team will go as far as Rinne will carry them.
  • Roman Josi set a career high for assists with his 41st helper tonight.
  • Before tonight, each of the last 8 games the Predators have played against the Kings have been one goal games. The Predators are 5-0-3 in those games.
This was a solid effort tonight against a very good L.A. team, who is the first Western Conference team to clinch a playoff spot. The Kings are a talented and heavy team, and the Predators showed they can play with the best and beat the best.

This is a great confidence booster for the Predators.

Now that confidence needs to translate into more wins and points.

My three stars:

1. Mike Fisher

2. Ryan Johansen

3. James Neal

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