The Nashville Predators returned to the Bridgestone Arena on Tuesday night and continued their early season frustrations with a 3-1 loss to San Jose.
The Preds continued their season-long streak of being out-shot by the opponent with the Sharks putting the puck on net 36 times to the Predators’ 20.
Pekka Rinne was solid in net, making 33 saves, but was victimized by a couple of loose pucks around the net. A very remorseful Rinne explained, “When you lose a game, you don’t care about the saves. You care about the results and tonight, obviously, there are a couple of pucks that I would like to take back, but it’s hockey.”
The first goal by Logan Couture at 14:22 in the opening period was short-handed, off of a rebound on a shot from Martin Havlat that bounced funny and slipped from Rinne’s grasp. “I gave up a rebound and before you know it, it’s in the back of the net. That’s the way it goes,” Rinne said.
The Predators tied the game 1-1 with 6:48 left in the contest when Craig Smith found the puck in front of the Sharks net and lifted it past Antti Niemi for a power-play goal.
“It was kind of a scrum play and other people went to the net and screened the goalie a little so kudos to them and kudos to my linemates for making plays,” Smith stated.
Fifty-seven seconds later, Joe Pavelski shoved a loose puck past Rinne to quickly take back the one-goal lead.
Barry Trotz must have been thinking that the hockey gods were against the Preds. “Some of them are lucky bounces,” he said. “They throw it at the net and it bounces and they get the first goal. The second one was a little bit similar.”
Rinne lamented the quick turn of events after the game was tied. “Next shift it’s in the back of your net,” he said. “It’s a tough one to take. We’ve been working hard to get our game better but it seems like it’s taking time to get results. I was disappointed in how it ended. For myself, I can’t let those kind of goals in.”
Trotz took his usual reflective approach to the loss. “It’s something you have to learn from,” he said. “Right after a real hard-working goal you know they are going to have a push so you have to come up with a big shift there.”
“You work hard all game to get it tied up and you’re thinking six minutes to go that you’re going to get one (point), maybe two, but they score right away and it swings the momentum.”
Trotz deflected any possible criticism of Rinne’s role in the loss. “Peks has been our best player by a country mile,” he said. “There wasn’t anybody on the team close to him in the first six games. He’s an elite player.”
“He’s going to be great for us and I’m not worried about those goals going in. I wish they didn’t. We could have done some things to defend better on both those goals. If we defend them correctly we get a shutout.”
The Predators will practice on Wednesday and continue the homestand on Thursday against the Tampa Bay Lightning with a 7 p.m. puck drop.