Thursday, March 24, 2016

Predators Steal 2 Points with Late Comeback, SO Win Over the Canucks

Sometimes, a team steals a point. Occasionally, they steal two.

Tonight, the Nashville Predators did just that, playing lackluster and sloppy hockey for 52 minutes against the Vancouver Canucks before getting goals from James Neal and Filip Forsberg to tie the game in regulation.

In a shootout, Ryan Johansen and Craig Smith scored while only Jared McCann was able to tally for the Canucks, and improbably the Predators escaped with a 3-2 win.

The Canucks had not scored in 235 minutes, yet hung 2 goals on the Predators in the first period.

Let that sink in for a minute.

Bo Horvat gathered in a puck that bounced over the stick of Roman Josi and slid the puck past Pekka Rinne to give the Canucks a 1-0 lead.

The Canucks extended the lead to 2-0 on the power play as Daniel Sedin was alone in the slot and he blasted a puck past Rinne.

The Predators were out worked and out skated for most of the game. That changed 11:56 into the third as James Neal spun loose down low and sniped a shot past Ryan Miller to cut the deficit to 2-1.

Filip Forsberg wrapped in a puck from behind the net to tie the game at 2.

The overtime was scoreless (AT LEAST THE PREDATORS DIDN'T LOSE IN OT!) before the shootout heroics from Johansen and Smith and stop excellent stops from Rinne to secure the win.

Some observations:

  • As horrific as the Predators have been in OT, with this win they go to 4-1 in the shootout.
  • The Predators are 11-2-2 in their last 15 games.
  • When the game is on the line, your key players have to step up. Tonight, James Neal and Filip Forsberg did just that. Neal notched his 29th goal with a perfectly placed shot to the far post. Forsberg was in the high traffic area and beat Miller from behind to tuck the puck inside the post to tie the game. Leadership and effort paid off for two players that have been huge contributors for the Preds during this run.
  • The first 52 minutes of play by the Predators were some of the most putrid hockey they have played in quite some time. They were out worked and out skated and the Canucks forecheck and trap seemed to befuddle the Predators for most of the game. Lazy and sloppy play almost cost them this game. But once they started skating and getting the puck deep, they created some problems for the Canucks. Let's just not wait so late in the game to get it going, mmmkay, boys?
  • The 31st sellout for the team, a new franchise record. Big ups to the fans in Smashville. This was the 12th consecutive sellout for the Predators.
  • Colin Wilson picked up an assist on Neal's goal for his 200th NHL point.
  • Ryan Ellis had an assist on Forsberg's goal for his 100th NHL point.
  • The Predators have played 36 1 goal games this season and have picked up points in 29 of those games (16-7-13).
  • The Predators gave up a power play goal for the first time in 8 games.
  • The Predators held the Canucks without a shot in OT. They had some opportunities to pick up only their second OT win of the season with a 4 on 3 power play for the final 1:59 but could not get good looks and shots. Which is typical of this team in OT.
This game was flat out ugly for most of regulation. Yet the Predators found a way to win and get 2 critical points. The big take away- when this team skates, they are usually going to have a good chance to win. When they stand around, anyone can beat them.

That almost happened tonight.

Learn this lesson.

And keep the points coming.

My three stars:

1. Filip Forsberg

2. James Neal

3. Pekka Rinne

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