The Nashville Predators extended their losing streak to three games as they were frustrated by the Ottawa Senators in a 2-1 loss Thursday night at a sold out Bridgestone Arena. Ottawa’s game plan was to clog up the neutral zone and slow the speedy Predators way through center ice and it appeared to work to perfection.
Ottawa received a goal from Alex Kovalev and the game winner from Nick Foligoo. The Predators lone goal came Marcel Goc.
Brian Elliott got the win as he stopped 25 of 26 Predator shots. Pekka Rinne played his first game since December 3 and shook off the rust, stopping 28 of 30 of Senator shots.
In spite of the loss Rinne was pleased to be back.
“It felt good being back, obviously. I missed being with the boys and playing games,” he said. “It’s always tough to be injured but it felt good and I was well prepared for the game but unfortunately we didn’t get the win.
“We had a lot of chances and a lot of penalties on both sides. Part of it is that we have to be better on power plays and part of it was their good defensive play and their goalie was pretty solid. As a team when we give up two goals we should get at least a point.”
The Senators came out fast and furious and had nine shots in the first 2:32 of play. They connected on their first goal by Kovalev at 9:35 in the first period. Kevin Klein was knocked down behind the net and lost a battle for the puck. Peter Regin passed the puck to an open Kovalev in the slot and Rinne was handcuffed and unable to stop the short shot.
Ottawa struck again at 4:58 in the second period when Foligno scored on the power play when Milan Michalek’s shot was blocked by Ryan Suter as Foligno gathered the loose puck and fired one past Rinne to give the Sens a 2-0 advantage.
The Predators came back quickly at 7:16 when Codey Franson fired the puck wide of the net and Goc made a perfect deflection to put it into the open side of the net to cut the lead to 2-1.
“I was trying to make a pass,” Franson said about Goc’s goal. “He (Goc) was standing there almost all by himself and I was moving backwards and wouldn’t have been able to get enough on it so I tried to put it in an area where he could get his stick on it.”
That would be the end of the scoring for the evening as Ottawa successfully kept the Predators off kilter for the remainder of the contest.
“I don’t know if it was as much as what they were doing or what we were doing not executing,” said Preds forward Colin Wilson. “They were in the right spots and knew what we were trying to do.”
The Predators’ power play was o-4 and Wilson explained, “There were some mix-ups on the power play. Again that was execution and focus of the team. We couldn’t get the puck in and we will work on that.”
“I was more concerned about the defense the last two games when we gave up four and six. We only scored one goal in each of the three games,” said a frustrated Barry Trotz about the loss. “Tonight we were better defensively. We had a lot of things thrown at us in terms of penalties and guys getting bumped up and missing the rest of the game so it was a bit of a challenge and try to do things and we didn’t have any finish tonight.”
The Predators lost Marty Erat and Steve Sullivan to injuries during the game. Erat left with an upper body injury at 11:54 in the second period after he fell and crashed into the wall after a breakaway attempt. Sullivan left with an unknown issue with 2:53 left in the game. Both were listed as “questionable” for the next game.
Jordin Tootoo left the game late in the second period after he was run over by an Ottawa player but was able to return.
The one silver lining on the injury front is that for the first time, Trotz indicated that the target date for David Legwand’s return is Tuesday against Dallas.
In the usual Christmas scheduling anomaly, the Predators will have two full days off before leaving early Sunday morning to travel to St. Louis for a 6 p.m. game at the Scottrade Center and then a quick return back to Nashville after the contest.