Your Nashville Predators closed out their seven-game road trip in Pittsburgh on Friday night. They jumped out to a early lead with a goal by Gabriel Bourque less than three minutes in, but not much went well from there.
The Preds came out with some jump in their stride and went back and forth with Pittsburgh for most of the first period. The early goal from Bourque looked like it could get the Preds some momentum, but they could never build on it. The Penguins got two goals later in the period and pretty much put it in cruise control. They added two more goals in the second for a final score of 4-1.
The Preds posted 9 shots in the first, but only managed 9 more for the rest of the game. Offensively, the first period was the best period the team has played in a few games and they got more chances around the net then the last couple of games combined. The improvement in offense was likely helped by the return of Mike Fisher. Fisher missed the last four games of the road trip and returned to play almost 18 minutes with time on both the power play and penalty kill.
The game also marked Filip Forsberg‘s return to the lineup after a stint in Milwaukee. Forsberg only played 11 shifts for a total of 9:48 with no time on either of the Preds’ two power plays. Granted Forsberg has been out of practice for the last week, but he is familiar enough with the system that he could have easily been inserted on one of the power play units. We talked about it earlier, but it is not clear what the Preds want to do with Forsberg. He needs some time on the top two lines and the power play if he is going to continue to develop his offensive abilities. Limited minutes and time on the fourth line is not going to get Forsberg to where the Preds want and need him to be.
Defensively, the Preds were just not good and the score could have been much worse than it was. The defense was caught running around and out of position and made a couple of bad line changes. Fortunately, the team was bailed out by Marek Mazanec on the majority of the defensive breakdowns. Mazanec got his second consecutive start for the Predators but played inconsistently. He made some big saves on the Preds defensive lapses but let in two goals he should have stopped. Mazanec was pulled after the second period for Carter Hutton. Hutton played a scoreless third but the goaltending questions remain unanswered. Maybe its time to call Magnus Hellberg up and give him a shot, or start looking for help elsewhere.
A couple of quick final thoughts:
- Seth Jones played mostly on the third defensive pair with Ryan Ellis and only played 17:53.
- Eric Nystrom fought Tanner Glass in the second and left the game after the fight. He suffered a bad cut on his head and was wobbly when trying to leave the ice. Fortunately, Nystrom tweeted after the game that he was ok and just got hit behind the ear with a punch.
Thanks for checking in with us today. Check back in the morning for Predlines Morning Skate.