By Amanda DiPaolo
The Nashville Predators hosted the Rangers in a rare visit from New York to Music City on Saturday night in front of a sold out Bridgestone Arena. In a goalie’s battle, it would take the shootout for Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist to top Predators workhorse Pekka Rinne, 2-1.
It was a rough first period with two major fights and a lot of pushing and shoving between the Predators and Rangers. Here Jordin Tootoo and Sean Avery fight upon leaving their respective penalty boxes (Photo: Yardbarker.com)
The Predators penalty kill was tested early. Jordin Tootoo was called for holding the stick of Rangers forward Ruslan Fedotenko at the one minute mark of the first period. The Predators would remain perfect on the penalty kill for the game, making it 21 for 21 in the last five games.
The Predators were able to generate some early scoring chances. Less than five minutes into the game, Martin Erat was in alone on Henrik Lundqvist but was unable to convert. Colin Wilson used his strength and heavy shot to score on Lundqvist to give the Predators the early lead 5:10 into the game. It was his third goal of the season.
Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi turned over the puck to Wilson who beat Lundqvist high to the glove side.
The Rangers thought they had tied the game in the first when Erik Christensen apparently scored but the puck had peen kicked into the net with a distinct kicking motion and was disallowed. Christensen had a number of other scoring chances during regulation, including being flat out stoned by Rinne during a Rangers second period power play. Christensen, however, would prove to be the hero for the Rangers as he would go on to score the shootout game winning goal for New York.
Christensen said winning the game was meaningful for the Rangers. “That’s the type of game that last year we might have lost. You always look back and the games like this were against a Western Conference team. You look back and say ‘That’s a game that we could have had.’ That’s the kind of game that can take you over the top. I think we took that to heart,” he said.
The first period of play also featured some tempers flaring. Brandon Dubinsky and Shea Weber were often seen pushing each other around. Dubinsky is not known as the fighting type. Sean Avery decided to rough up Tootoo, and the Predators’ agitator responded in kind. Both were sent to the box for roughing minors. As soon as they stepped out onto the ice after the penalties expired Tootoo and Avery fought.
With Tootoo the decisive winner, he raised his arms in victory to the cheers of the soldout arena.
Once play resumed, Shane O’Brien and Brandon Prust dropped the gloves for a middleweight bout.
The second period was scoreless, though both teams had two power play opportunities.
It was the third period where the play turned against the Predators. Despite outshooting the Rangers 11-5, Ryan Callahan tied the game 13:04 into the third.
Furthermore, defenseman Cody Franson was struck with an Avery high-stick in his head and neck area and left the game. He is being evaluated at the hospital as a precaution.
Captain Shea Weber spoke to what losing Franson would mean to the Predators. “Obviously, he’s been good for us this year. He’s been good on the puck, and he helps things go there. We do have depth so guys can step in and play well, but if he is out for any time, that might hurt us.”
With the game tied at 1-1, Nashville and the Rangers went to overtime. With no one scoring, the teams went to a shootout. Christensen went first and scored. No other shooter was able to beat either goalie.
With the loss, the Predators are now losers of 4 straight games. The team doesn’t play again until Tuesday when the red hot Phoenix Coyotes come to town. Phoenix lost to Anaheim on Saturday night, but won their previous 7 contests. Last time Nashville played the Coyotes was in Phoenix when Ed Jovanovski scored his first ever hat trick on November 3rd.
Are you looking for tickets to an upcoming Predators home game? Follow this link for discounted tickets. Make an account and then use the word Preds as the code for the discount. The next Predators home game Tuesday night when the Phoenix Coyotes come to town.