By Amanda DiPaolo
The Nashville Predators had an opportunity to move within two points of the Central Division leading Detroit Red Wings, but lost 4-3 in overtime. It is the first time since January 16th that the Predators scored 3 goals and still lost the game.
The Predators also gave up a 3-goal lead.
Ryan Suter opened up scoring with just 59 seconds left in the first period with a power play goal. Nashville, on the 5-on-3 man advantage, took the lead when the defenseman’s shot from the blue line beat Jimmy Howard. Suter’s fourth goal of the season was assisted by Mike Fisher and Patric Hornqvist.
“You can’t take your foot off the gas,” Suter said when asked what the team can learn from the loss, adding, “You have to keep going on them. You sit back and — with the talent that there is out there in the League — if you sit back, it’s going to be in the back of your net.”
The assist was Hornqvist’s 100th career point.
Justin Abdelkader was in the box for boarding Martin Erat with just 1:53 to play in the first period. While defending the man advantage, Tomas Holmstrom shot the puck over the glass resulting in a delay of game call.
The second period opened with another Predators power play goal. Brad Stuart was called for delay of game for sending the puck over the glass just 16 seconds into the middle frame.
Martin Erat capitalized on the man advantage for his 17th goal of the year. Predators Captain Shea Weber passed the puck from the point to Erat who one-times it an empty net, with Howard out of position ready for a Weber shot on goal. Ryan Suter picked up the other assist on the Erat goal.
Less than a minute later, the Predators took a 3-0 lead when Sergei Kostitsyn picked up his 20th goal of the season. Kostitsyn is the first Predator to hit the 20-goal mark this season. Mike Fisher took a shot that bounced off the end board. Kostitsyn shot the rebound passed Howard, stick side. Fisher and Matt Halischuk picked up the assists.
Momentum turned, however, and the Red Wings went on to score four answered goals after Todd Bertuzzi and Shane O’Brien fought for the second time in the game–both time resulting in advantage, Bertuzzi.
“You don’t win every fight you are in, but when a guy jumps you, there’s a little bit of pride involved. I just thought I’d go back at him, and I just thought being up three nothing, we have everything in tact here. I still think that the two goals they got to get them going were kind of unlucky. For whatever reason, we don’t get too many bounces here.” O’Brien said of his two fights with Bertuzzi.
At 3:28 of the second period, just 51 seconds after Kostitsyn made it a three-goal game, Jakub Kindl scored his second goal of the season, unassisted. And 1:21 later it was a one-goal game as Abdelkader picked up his 6th of the season when he deflected the puck in the net off a Brad Stuart shot from the point. Holmstrom also picked up an assist.
The Predators went into the third period with a one-goal lead but the game was tied up just 3:59 into the third period when Abdelkader picked up his 7th of the season.
“It felt great,” Abdelkader said of the two goals, “Obviously, anytime you can chip in on the scoreboard is great. I thought I had a lot of chances; whether it was Modano, Holmstrom or Bertuzzi. I just wanted to be physical, hang onto pucks and get to the net. I thought it was a great team effort.”
The Predators put a lot of pressure on Howard in the third period, but were unable to beat the Red Wings goaltender back in action after missing a week with a shoulder injury.
With just 2:02 left in the overtime period, Dan Cleary ended the game when he tipped in a shot from Brian Rafalski. It was Cleary’s 25th goal of the season.
Nashville now plays on Tuesday, at home, against the Eastern Conference’s Atlanta Thrashers. Last time the two teams met in December, the Predators built up a 2-goal lead before losing in overtime.
With Los Angeles beating the Stars in regulation Saturday afternoon, the Predators inch one step closer to clinching a playoff berth for the sixth time in seven season.
Additional Game Notes:
The Red Wings thought they had opened up scoring with just 3:44 left in the first period. Nicklas Lidstrom’s bullet from the point beat Rinne, but Holmstrom made contact with the Predators goaltender. The goal was called back and Holmstrom was sent to the box for goaltender interference.
Photo credit: Getty Images
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