Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Predators Can't Finish, Fall to the Stars 5-2

The Nashville Predators traveled to Dallas looking to rebound from a lackluster effort the night before in a tough contest with the Stars.

This game would be a good measuring stick for the Predators, not only to see how they would rebound from a bad game but also how they would stack up against the best team in the West.

The Predators would be found wanting.

Ryan Ellis opened the scoring with a short handed goal, a blast past Kari Lehtonen to give the Predators a 1-0 lead.

The Stars would tie the game as the Predators defense completely broke down and lost the Stars Jamie Benn coming over the boards. Benn was sent in on a breakaway and he beat Pekka Rinne 5 hole to tie the game at 1.

The second period saw the Predators crumble, giving up 2 goals in 46 seconds. Radek Faksa scored, beating Ryan Johansen back on defense for an easy tap in. Jason Spezza scored on a shot from the slot to give the Stars a 3-1 lead.

Once again, the Predators had dug a huge hole.

The Predators answered on the power play as Viktor Arvidsson, filling in for the injured Ryan Ellis and getting his first meaningful power play action of the year, blew a shot past Lehtonen to make it 3-2.

A furious rally by the Predators in the third period that saw them hit 3 posts went for naught, as the Stars Patrick Sharp and Jamie Benn hit empty net goals to secure a 5-2 win.

Some observations:

  • Mini-me...uh, Ryan Ellis is a small defenseman, but wow, he can crank a slap shot. He absolutely stepped into one to blow the puck past Kari Lehtonen. Ellis is going to lose the physical match up against the bigger, heavy forwards, but he makes up for it with good hockey sense and that aforementioned wickedly hard shot.
  • Paul Gaustad returned to the line up after missing 10 games. He skated on the left wing of a line centered by Colton Sissons. folks, enjoy Gaustad's last few games with the Predators. He has been a good soldier, but he will not be back next season.
  • What a horrible defensive breakdown by Ellis and Barret Jackman. Completely unaware of the Stars players coming over the boards. Oh yeah, that Stars player coming over the board just happened to be their most dangerous forward, Jamie Benn. Of course, that mistake resulted in a Benn breakaway goal.
  • The Predators lost Ellis in the first period as he went down after taking a shot to the head. He played one more shift after the injury and then did not return.
  • I continue to like the play of Arvidsson. There is no doubt that the Aardvark has to get strong, but goodness, he has to have one of the biggest hearts on this team. He jumped in and played very well on the power play, not looking out of place at all.
  • The push by the Predators in the third period was excellent. The finish was lacking. If the Predators had some puck luck with the post, the outcome might have been different. Coulda, woulda, shoulda.
The Predators brief lapse in the second period cost them another game. This team is good, but against a quality opponent they are not good enough to overcome those lapses.

Let's face it, the remainder of the season is not going to be a cakewalk. This team is going to have to buck up and start playing a full 60 minutes.

Don't back into the playoffs, boys.

My three stars:

1. Jamie Benn

2. Viktor Arvidsson

3. Alex Goligoski

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