Hal Gill likes playing on the road. Can you tell? (PHOTO: Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports)

Central Division: Preds Win, Chicago Tops St. Louis

One of the many reasons I love the Predators subreddit is finding pictures like these. (IMAGE: Jo Valentine-Cooper, via redditor heebie)

The first two games of the 2013 NHL season were frustrating for Nashville Predators fans as the team fell to not one but two Central Division rivals in shootout losses. Last night saw a little bit of relief in the form of a 3-1 win at Minnesota. For the first time this season the Preds only had to play 60 minutes, instead of what must have seemed like a new requirement of 65 plus a skills competition.

And Ryan Suter? He went −2 with no points in front of his new home crowd. Not that anyone around Nashville’s keeping track of things like that, no sir…

Around The Central Division: January 23, 2013

YESTERDAY

Nashville Predators 3, Minnesota Wild 1

Nashville visited Ryan Suter in Minnesota and disposed of him and the Wild. Backup goalie Chris Mason got his first start of the season and stopped 29 of 30 shots en route to the game’s first star. Nashville got goals from Nick Spaling early and David Legwand late on the power play, but the gem was the game-winner from Martin Erat in the third period:

Nicklas Backstrom had played well until then. He’ll be seeing this one in his nightmares for a while. Will the power of Suter heal him before these teams meet in St. Paul again on February 9th, or will the Preds have to face Josh Harding then?

Check out my recap for a rundown of what I saw during the game.

Chicago Blackhawks 3, St. Louis Blues 2

In a battle of two unbeaten teams, the Blackhawks took a 1-0 lead in their home opener by catching the Blues completely exposed and letting Patrick Kane do the rest:

By 2:09 of the third period they were up 3-0 thanks to goals from Brent Seabrook, and Viktor Stalberg. Then St. Louis came roaring back on tallies from a healthy Andy McDonald and T.J. Oshie. Corey Crawford managed to hold on for the win, while Brian Elliott got the loss in his first start of the season. (Elliott won against Nashville the night before, but he had taken over mid-game for Jaroslav Halak.) Those crazy kids in Chicago have the recap.

Dallas Stars 2, Detroit Red Wings 1

Shhhhh. Listen. As a light snow falls, dampening the rest of the usual south Detroit sounds, you can just make it out – sobbing. Not just one person, but two. A small-town girl and a city boy, wearing red, looking for a midnight train going anywhere…where hockey teams play defense.

The Wings’ home opener actually saw improved defense from their previous two games, but it wasn’t enough to beat Dallas. The Stars got two goals from Michael Ryder, including this one:

Kari Lehtonen got the win, Jimmy Howard took the loss, and Damien Brunner tacked on a meaningless goal with four seconds left in the game. Howard has given up 10 goals on 93 shots for a save percentage of .892, but he doesn’t miss having Nick Lidstrom in front of him. Nope. Not a bit. Don’t stop believin’, Wings fans.

Transactions

Chicago acquired G Henrik Karlsson from Calgary for a 2013 seventh-round draft pick, and assigned him to Rockford (AHL).

Columbus agreed to terms with the fantastically named D Glauber Leandro Honorato Berti. (Unless, of course, ESPN’s transaction page accidentally listed an MLS transfer on the NHL page. Not that anything like that could ever happen.)

Detroit announced the retirement of F Tomas Holmstrom, recalled F Gustav Nyquist from Grand Rapids (AHL), placed RW Todd Bertuzzi and D Carlo Colaiacovo on injured reserve, and signed D Kent Huskins to a one-year contract of unspecified salary.

Nashville’s AHL affiliate, the Milwaukee Admirals, signed F Brad Winchester to a pro tryout contract. Ryan Porth speculates on what that could mean for a Nashville Predators squad that needs some depth on the fourth line.

Standings

TODAY

The Central Division has been a hotbed of hockey since the NHL returned to play last Saturday, but most of its teams have today off.

Sergei Bobrovsky is new to the Central Division

Sergei Bobrovsky’s save percentage is up since joining the Blue Jackets. (PHOTO: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports)

Columbus Blue Jackets at Phoenix Coyotes
10:00 p.m. CST

The Blue Jackets have started better than expected partly thanks to the combined efforts of a bunch of new acquisitions. On defense it’s been goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, who’s stopped 71 of 76 shots against Nashville and Detroit. On offense, Artem Anisimov and Nick Foligno account for 40 percent of the team’s goals. They take on a winless Coyotes team that’s given up 10 goals on 57 shots in two games, giving goalie Mike Smith a skunky .825 save percentage.

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Tags: Central Division Nashville Predators

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