The Nashville Predators were out-shot, out-worked and out-played in their contest against the New York Rangers tonight.
The Preds found themselves on the wrong side of a scoreboard that read 2-0 by the end of the night, and it could have been a lot worse. The team from Music City had their three-game winning streak and dominant play come to a grinding halt when they managed only 17 shots on goal (including just five in the third period) and zero goals.
The Predators not only had a limited number of shots on the Ranger net; they also generally struggled to do anything they wanted to do on either side of the ice. Turnovers, repeatedly hemmed in their own end, and futile attempts at offense were a consistent makeup of Nashville’s game tonight, for all three periods.
Still, the Rangers have to be credited for playing a solid road game and getting the two points available. The team from the Big Apple did not attempt to play a “normal” Eastern Conference style of game, but instead was content to slow the pace of the contest, focus on defense and attempt to capitalize on any mistakes by their opponent. Nashville was able to beat the Toronto Maple Leafs in their last game because the Predators was able to play their normal style of grind-it-out and defensive hockey–trumping the fast and flashy game usually played in the East–but the Rangers were having none of that tonight. They wisely matched Nashville’s defensive style and used a better forward corps to tally enough goals for the win.
The teams played a scoreless first period, with the advantage in play going slightly to New York, but there was no question who the better team was in the final two-thirds of the contest.
Defensemen Ryan McDonagh tipped a point shot through Marek Mazanec’s five hole to open the scoring at 13:13 of the second period. What little hope Nashville had of pulling off another improbable win in a game in which they were being badly out-played seemed to leave the building after just that one goal. New York proceeded to lock down the rest of the contest and capitalized on a Viktor Stalberg turnover in the third period, making the game 2-0 and effectively putting it out of reach.
A pretty bad game all around for Nashville and this kind of dud performance has to raise at least some kind of red flag that the last three games may have just been an anomaly from what we’ll see for the rest of the campaign. After all, not being able to score has been the main stay for Nashville for the majority of the season.
The team will have a chance to regroup and move past tonight’s ugly game on Monday when they take on the Phoenix Coyotes who stand at 14-5-4. Traditionally a tough matchup for Nashville, the Preds will look to make tonight’s result look like a fluke, rather than the norm.