Thursday, April 7, 2016

Predators Cap An Improbable Comeback With a 3-2 OT Win Over the Coyotes

In a game that was meaningless for the Predators and one in which they played for stretches like it was meaningless, the Predators shocked the Coyotes and the Predator fans with a 3-2 OT win.

The Predators were down 2 goals going into the third period when they supplied the wow factor.

Shea Weber drew the Predators within 1 goal with his 14th power play goal of the season to cut the deficit to 2-1.

Looking for all the world like Predator fans were going home disappointed, the Predators scored with 19 seconds to go. With Pekka Rinne pulled for an extra attacker, Roman Josi launched a shot toward the net that Filip Forsberg redirected past Mike Smith to tie the game at 2.

Overtime has not been kind to the Predators, but they figured it out in their second to last game of the year.

Josi took the puck through the neutral zone with speed, drove the net, and slid the puck past Smith for the improbable game winner just 20 seconds into the extra period.

Some observations:

  • Antoine Vermette gave the Coyotes a 1-0 lead, deflecting a shot off his skate that was going well past the net. Shane Doan scored from the face off circle when the Predators failed to clear the puck. The play by Rinne was solid tonight, and I don't fault him for the 2 goals he gave up. It does point out that the defensive coverage has got to tighten up during the playoffs. There is no doubt Rinne will play his tail off but he is going to have to have some help out front.
  • The Predators struggled for most of the night on the power play. The lone exception was Weber's goal. At times, the Predators wasted a lot of time just trying to get into the zone. That is an area of play that is going to have to improve in the playoffs.
  • Speaking of Weber, he hit 20 goals for the third time in his career. His power play goal was his 14th of the year, tying Andy Delmore and Paul Kariya for a franchise high in power play goals.
  • How about Filip Forsberg? His goal was his 33rd of the season and tied Jason Arnott for the franchise record. The thing about this goal that was exceptional to me is that it came with Forsberg right at the top of the crease battling for position. We have all seen and been amazed by some of his goals, but he has also shown that he is not afraid to go to the hard areas to score. 
  • Big props to the fans. The team finished the season playing 41 home games at 99.2% capacity at the Bridge. 695,828 fans attended games this year, 4800 more than last season. The Predators sold out 35 of their 41 home games this season, eclipsing the previous high of 30 sellouts, set last season.
  • The Predators are now 5-21-5 when they trail after 2 periods.
  • The Predators are now 2-12 in OT.
  • Anthony Bitetto returned to the line up after missing 9 games due to an injury.
As it was in the last game, this win was certainly not a thing of beauty. Yet it was beautiful from the standpoint that the Predators never quit and kept pressing.

And they were rewarded for that effort.

It is that kind of effort that the Predators will need in the playoffs.

My three stars:

1. Roman Josi

2. Filip Forsberg

3. Mike Smith

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