Nashville Predators: A Weekend of Soup and Saros

Nashville Predators goalie Juuse Saros Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Nashville Predators goalie Juuse Saros Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /

The Nashville Predators had a weekend of ups and downs- from being felled by bad chicken noodle soup to thrashing the reigning Stanley Cup champions at home.

Nashville Predators fans knew that October was going to be a trial by fire regardless of how promising the team looked before entering the new season.  With 8 games in 17 days, including 3 back to back matchups and a 3 game road trip through California, all of which were against playoff caliber teams, the Predators definitely have their work cut out for them.

Before flying into Detroit for a matchup against the Red Wings , Nashville had fallen to 1-2-0 after splitting a back to back matchup with Chicago and then beaten by the Dallas Stars at home in a surprisingly low scoring affair and looked to right the ship against their old foes. It didn’t end up happening.

Detroit would win 5-3 despite Pekka Rinne turning away a whopping 38 shots in the game. Things started off alright for the Predators as both sides went into the locker room without a goal after the first period. Things started to take a turn for the worse when Ryan Johansen didn’t return for the second period. Craig Smith didn’t fare much better and lasted only a few shifts before also exiting the game for good.

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Already dealing with injuries to depth players Miikka Salomaki and Anthony Bitetto, the news about Johansen and Smith leaving the game had Predators fans on high alert and dreading the worst. While Predators fans awaited more details, Nashville’s dominant power play kept rolling as P.K. Subban and Mike Ribeiro cashed in on a both opportunities of a 5 on 3 call and skated away from the second period tied at 2 goals a piece.

Things quickly unraveled for the Nashville Predators as the Red Wings scored just a minute and ten seconds into the third period and never let up while Nashville’s even strength scoring troubles continued.

Detroit would seal the deal with an empty-net goal to put things away 5-3 and send the Predators back to Nashville to host the Pittsburgh Penguins. Pekka Rinne and the boys weren’t the only ones catching a flight back to Music City.  Turns out Craig Smith and Ryan Johansen were waylaid by a locker room wide case of food poisoning that forced them from the game.

The culprit is largely believed to be the chicken noodle soup served during the pre-game meal. Regardless of what dish was to blame, it so sickened the Predators that reinforcements had to be called up from the Milwaukee Admirals to ice a full team against the Penguins and that’s where the hero of our story comes in.

Juuse Saros Steals The Show

There’s no sugar-coating it. Saturday’s game against Pittsburgh should have been a disaster. A rested Penguins team coming into town to take on the still ill Predators on the tail end of a back to back is normally a recipe for disaster. None of that mattered to Juuse Saros.

In just his second NHL start, the young Finnish phenom masterfully handled the reigning Stanley Cup champions by stopping 34 of the 35 shots sent his way. Outside of a very early goal in the first period, the Predators star prospect was fantastic in his first NHL start of the season. It was Saros’ fourth straight game where he has only allowed one goal and he is now a perfect 4-0-0 on the season.

While Saros was exceptional against the Penguins, the rest of the team deserves their fair share of praise as well. The defense was spotless and the young guns of Kevin Fiala and Viktor Arvidsson carried the offense with two goals each with Calle Jarnkrok netting his first of the season as well, as Nashville finally started scoring at even strength again.

Next: Predators Rinne Himself Again?

It was a frantic few days for Predators fans but Nashville redeemed itself with a statement win against one of the best teams in the league. While it remains to be seen if this team is getting into their stride after a slow start to the season, the future looks bright if the younger players can keep scoring and even more talent is just waiting to get their chance in Milwaukee.