For the second straight home game, the Nashville Predators saw two points slip away as they fell to the Rangers on Saturday 2-1 in a shootout. Henrik Lundqvist made 29 saves as the Blueshirts escaped Music City with a victory.
Nashville got off to a fast start in the first, creating a pair of chances early after killing off a penalty. Soon after Martin Erat missed a breakaway chance, Colin Wilson cashed in on a Dan Girardi turnover to put the Preds up 1-0 at the 5:10 mark.
Three minutes later, Erik Christensen appeared to have tied the game, but his goal was waved off due to a kicking motion.
Later on in the opening frame, Jordin Tootoo and Sean Avery dropped the gloves as they stepped out of the box following off-setting roughing penalties. Tootoo won the fight decisively, making the hockey world proud that someone pounded Avery. Just 12 seconds after that scrap, Shane O’Brien and Brandon Prust decided to drop the gloves as well.
The second period belonged to Pekka Rinne. New York made a few surges in the Preds zone, but he closed the door with some athletic saves; particularly one where he stoned Christensen with his pad twice in a row. Also, ‘Peks’ was called for playing the puck outside of the trapezoid twice in the period.
Nashville seemed to have the game in their grasps – they were playing the way they needed to close it out and outplayed the Blueshirts in the third.
However, John Tortorella’s crew still found a way to tie the game when Ryan Callahan pounced on a rebound at 13:04 of the third. Michael Del Zotto’s shot was saved by Rinne, but Callahan capitalized as his shot deflected in off J.P. Dumont’s foot.
After an uneventful overtime session, Christensen started the shootout with a nifty goal where he deked out Rinne. Nashville never recovered as they could not solve Lundqvist.
– Early in the third period, Preds defenseman Cody Franson took a high stick to the throat from Avery. The update given by Barry Trotz was that Franson was being evaluated at the hospital, likely for precautionary reasons.
– Ever since the game in Toronto where the Preds surrendered four power play goals, they are 21-for-21 on the penalty kill and limiting the opposition’s chances.
– The Preds have scored just five goals in the last five games, going 1-2-2 in the process. In a tough Western Conference, the offense needs to turnaround quickly.
– Wilson played one of his best games of the year and earned more ice-time from Trotz (15:36) than he has in the last month or so.
– The flu bug is going around the Preds’ locker room. Nick Spaling was limited tonight to 5:53 of ice-time, while assistant coach Brent Petersen missed the game.
Barry Trotz on the game:
“We did play a real solid game and it’s really frustrating for the guys because they wanted the two points and felt they should’ve had two points. Should’ve had two points against St. Louis, which was a very similar type of game… and should’ve had two points tonight, based on the way we played. I’m not disappointed in our effort… I’m disappointed in the end result.”
Shea Weber on not closing out games:
“We need to close games out by getting two or three goals when we can and getting that lead, making it easier on Peks and ourselves when it comes later in the game.”
Wilson on the goal:
“It felt good to score again. Obviously I would have liked to have it go a different way in the game, but it felt good to get that. The puck was bouncing and when he went to grab it, I lifted his stick and let the shot go.”
Tootoo on Avery:
“You can talk all you want but you’ve got to bring the game with it. He’s a guy that loves to blab and he doesn’t come through with his actions. He’s a guy that wants to have the advantage on you when you’re at the end of your shift and he’s fresh, but I knew it was coming.”
Rangers D Marc Staal on Nashville:
“They play hard. They finish checks; they’re quick; they’re really good on the forecheck. A couple of fights brought up the tension level. It was a hard-fought game.”
Nashville bounced back from Friday’s disaster in Minnesota by picking up a point Saturday. Trotz’s gang has now dropped four games in a row. As he said after the game, the effort is there but not the results. They have been outshooting their opponents in recent games, but it hasn’t translated to any wins.
The Preds have two key games coming up against the Coyotes and Blue Jackets, back-to-back on Tuesday and Wednesday. Sitting three points out of a playoff spot with many teams to hurdle, it would be the perfect time to turn things around and get a couple wins against teams in front of them in the West.