The Nashville Predators sixth-straight home loss tonight had one predominate bright spot: the play of young forward Calle Jarnkrok.
Nashville fell 5-4 in a shootout to the Colorado Avalanche, but the newest member of the team still found plenty of opportunities to be impressive.
“I was very excited to play my first home game here. It started really well, we just have to hold on to that lead,” Jarnkrok said. “We should have gotten a win in this game.”
Acquired in a trade with the Detroit Red Wings earlier this month, the 22-year-old Swedish forward registered an assist for the third-straight game; the same amount of time he’s been at the NHL level.
Jarnkrok is primed to be an offensive force for the Predators for many years to come, it’s just surprising how soon some of the flashes of brilliance have shown for the forward.
“Obviously it’s the best league in the world, players too. The players in the NHL are the best, so it pushes me a lot,” said Jarkrok. “It’s been pretty easy fitting in actually. The guys have helped me a lot and that’s made it not as hard as I thought it would be.”
The dazzling portion of tonight’s show put on by Jarnkrok happened after a full 65 minutes of game time. Selected to go first for Nashville in the shootout, Jarnkrok put a slick backhander past a sprawling Seymon Varlamov to give the Predators an early edge in the skills competition.
“He’s been playing really well,” Nashville head coach Barry Trotz said. “He’s got quick hands; he seems to have a little bit of confidence right now. We took a bit of a gamble throwing him in [the shootout], but it was a nice move. We were happy and the guys were really happy.”
For a club now 1-8 in shootouts this season, a score of any kind was big for the Predators. And it was for Jarnkrok too.
“I had missed three out of the last three [in the American Hockey League], so I was thinking I would go backhand. I wanted to go with a more comfortable move.” Jarkrok said.
Unfortunately, just like in regulation, an early lead in the shootout was not enough for the Predators as they surrendered two goals to the next three Avalanche skaters.
A frustrating effort for the home team in a game where they were resoundingly strong in some areas, but astonishingly weak in others. The Predators held the Avalanche to just six shots through the game’s first 30 minutes, but gave up two goals, for example.
“At home we’re probably 3-8 in the last stint of games here, that I can remember. It used to be real hard to come in here and not get a [locked] down,” Trotz said. “I can’t quite figure it out.”
Despite repeatedly coming up empty at home, at least the Predators have a new weapon to add to their arsenal. He helped a lot tonight, it just wasn’t quite enough.
“A couple things I like about Jarnkrok: he’s very detailed and positionally strong,” Trotz said. “He’s got a good skill set and sees the ice and knows where to play. He competes on pucks when he has it or when he doesn’t. That’s what you like about him. There’s a lot to like.”