Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Predators Continue to Roll, Defeat the Jets 4-2

The Nashville Predators looked to continue their point streak with a stop at the MTS Center to face the Winnipeg Jets in their last meeting of the season. Both teams have won twice in their previous 4 contests.

The points streak would continue.

The Predators won a game that was at times sloppy and at times had elements of pond hockey before capturing a 4-2 win over the Jets.

Drew Stafford opened the scoring, poking a rebound past Pekka Rinne for a 1-0 Jets lead.

It looked like that score would stand at the end of the first period as the listless Predators had not much jump.

That would change as Craig Smith would pot his 17th goal of the season off a nice rush by the Predators potent second line. Smith banged home a rebound to tie the game at 1.

The Predators took a 2-1 lead off a fortuitous bounce off the stick of Colton Sissons. Sissons was trying to center the puck across the slot and it bounced off the skate of Ben Chairot and past a stunned Ondrej Pavalec to give the Predators the lead heading into intermission.

After a scoreless second period, Ryan Johansen tallied just as a Predators power play had ended to make it 3-1.

The Jets made it interesting as Jacob Trouba crashed the net and tapped home a rebound that Rinne could not control to make it 3-2.

Craig Smith would snuff out any momentum and thoughts of a win for the Jets as he took a sweet pass from Filip Forsberg and jammed the puck past Pavalec to make it 4-2.

The Predators would hold off the Jets attack with the extra man over the final 2 minutes to secure a big win and a much needed 2 points.

Some observations:

  • Paul Gaustad was out of the line up with an upper body injury and Colton Sissons was called up from Milwaukee and centered the 4th line.
  • Colin Wilson dropped down to the 4th line, while Miikka Salomaki took his place on the wing on the third line.
  • Craig Smith continues his hot play, with his 4th goal in his last 5 games. Smith has been skating hard and driving the net and he has been rewarded with finding the back of the net. Smith tallied his 17th goal by going to the net and banging a puck past Pavalec. A goal from the hard area, which is what the Predators need from the Honey Badger. His second goal was a result of beating the Jets defender by driving the net. Consistency, Crazy Legs, consistency.
  • A bit of puck luck for Sissons as his centering pass hits a skate and deflects into the net. Nice to see Sissons with the goal, and especially nice to see the Preds get some positive puck luck. Sissons has given up his number 84 that he has worn previously and donned number 10. If he can put up points like the previous owner of that number (Martin Erat) the Predators will benefit greatly.
  • Viktor Arvidsson played with lots of jump and fiestiness to his game. Aardvark gets knocked around- a lot- but he is always hustling and has a great deal of hockey sense. He is always working and creating in the offensive zone. His speed and creativity is creating some good opportunities for his line and he has settled in nicely on the third line with Mike Fisher and now Salomaki. Arvidsson was one of the best players on the ice tonight for the Predators.
  • Huge, HUGE, penalty kill on the major penalty to Austin Watson. The PK worked their tails off to limit the quality chances by the Jets. That could have been disastrous for the Predators, but they showed some real grit to kill off the penalty.
  • I really don't think that Watson's hit was worthy of a match penalty, but the officials reacted to the downed Jet player. This is an area that I think needs to have a booth review by the war room.
  • Ryan Johansen has been playing some good hockey for the Predators but has struggled to find the back of the net. Good to see him find the back of the net tonight.
  • Colin Wilson showed up tonight with 2 assists. Good effort from Wilson, who has had a miserable season. It would certainly be good to see him start to heat up.
  • Rinne was solid tonight, making some good saves including a nice push across the crease to stone Drew Stafford. The goal he gave up were when the Jets were crashing the net and poking at rebounds. Rinne has been solid of late. Not spectacular, but solid, and the team is playing with confidence in front of him. This is a very good sign for the Predators as the confidence and even swagger of this team starts from the net and flows out..
  • The Predators power play was 0-5. Johansen scored just seconds after a power play had ended.
  • The Predators PK was excellent. They killed all 4 of the Jets man advantage chances including the 5 minute major against Austin Watson. 

This was a game that the Predators could not lose. And they did a good job of battling back in a hostile environment to secure the win.

The Predators are showing a resiliency and push that they did not show at this time last season. Rather than limping into the end of the season- like last year- the Predators are building momentum and confidence.

And that bodes well for this team.

My three stars:

1. Craig Smith

2. Colton Sissons

3. Colin Wilson

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