The Nashville Predators fell to the Philadelphia Flyers in Saturday’s matinee showdown. The Flyers dominated play for most of the game but the Predators managed to push the game into a shootout.
The Predators were coming off of a 5-2 loss headed into the matchup and the losing hangover seemed to linger into this contest; the last thing Nashville wanted to happen.
Right from the start the Flyers dominated play. They found the back of the net first with just over 11 minutes left in the opening frame. Ex-Predator Michael Del Zotto flipped a puck on net from the blue line that was tipped by Wayne Simmonds past Pekka Rinne to give the Flyers the goal advantage.
The Predators caught a break with 1:02 left in the period when Del Zotto turned the puck over around the neutral zone, and Colin Wilson fired the puck from the left circle past the left shoulder of Rob Zepp to tie things up at one goal a piece headed into the first intermission.
Wilson’s goal came on Nashville’s third shot of the game and the Predators ended the period being out shot 13-3.
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The second period was much like the first with Philadelphia holding most of the play in the Nashville zone.
Moments into the period Chris VandeVelde was called for a misconduct penalty after his questionable ‘illegal check to head’ hit on Roman Josi. The Predators weren’t able to put a shot on net while on the man advantage.
The 10 minute mark of the middle frame came and the Predators had just five shots on net to their credit.
The Flyers regained the lead with 8:39 left in the period after Seth Jones held the puck a moment too long in the zone, and the crosschecking Flyers stole the puck with R.J. Umberger feeding Ryan White in the slot who sent a laser past Rinne.
The Flyers were out shooting the Predators 22-7 for the game after two periods of play yet the Predators were certainly still in the contest down just 2-1.
Things turned around for Nashville in the third, and turned around quick.
Twenty-three seconds into the final period Mike Fisher pushed the puck down the boards before sending an impressive backhand pass across ice to a streaking Craig Smith who netted his 18th goal of the season to tie things up in a game the Flyers were dominating in every aspect except the scoreboard.
Following the goal things fell back to how they were with the Flyers having many opportunities to regain the lead but Rinne and the Predators stood strong as the Flyers held the puck in Nashville’s zone for extended periods of time following the game tying goal.
The Predators did find themselves on the power play for the second time of the game with just over seven minutes left in regulation. Nashville managed to put one shot on net but couldn’t push their lead to 3-2.
The game needed extra time before a winner could be awarded. Rinne made a number of game-saving saves in the later half of the final period to keep things knotted up at two goals a piece.
The Predators out shot the Flyers 10-7 in the final frame to cut Philadelphia’s shots on goal advantage for regulation to 29-17.
Mike Ribeiro had a fantastic chance to win the game for the Predators with 1:55 left in the extra frame after an oddly bouncing puck dropped to Ribeiro’s stick but Ribeiro put the shot off Zepp’s shoulder.
That chance was the best for either team in overtime and this contest headed into the shootout.
The Flyers sent out Jakub Voracek as their first shooter. He put on a fantastic move to beat Rinne with a backhand. First up for the Predators was Matt Cullen who was stopped by Zepp. Ultimately, the final shooter for Philadelphia was their next shooter, Simmonds. He quickly made his way to the crease, slowed down, and zipped a wrist shot past Rinne. Smith was next for the Predators and went glove-side on Zepp but the rookie netminder snagged the puck to give the Flyers the win.
Rinne ended the night stopping 31 of the 33 shots he faced.
The Predators visit the Buffalo Sabres tomorrow night at 5 CST.
The New Guys Stats:
Mike Santorelli: 12:11 of ice time, 1 shot on net, 2 hits -1 on the afternoon
Cody Franson: 17:52 of ice time, 2 shots on net, 1 hit, 3 blocked shots