The Nashville Predators knew they would be in a fight against a dangerous team. In the end, the shootout went the way of the home team.
Success in sports does two things for a team. First, it builds confidence. The team who wins often begins to trust their play a bit more, and may try a few new things. Secondly, it puts a target on their backs. All opponents will come at you with everything they have when you are riding high. After winning seven of eight games, the Nashville Predators are certainly finding success.
The same could not be said for the Montreal Canadiens. Losers of five of their last six, the Canadiens have everything to gain with a win against one of the NHL’s best teams. Reeling for injuries to key players, Montreal rely on their scrappiness and grit to stay in games. It was evident tonight in Smashville.
How it went down
Even though the Predators are on a win streak, they still have yet to play a full 60-minute game. In many of their recent games, coach Peter Laviolette‘s team found themselves ahead by multiple goals. However, in the third, the Predators are being outscored by 8 goals coming into the match versus the Canadians. The third period again proved pivotal in this match.
The Canadiens would strike first. A failed attempt to clear the puck from the defensive zone lead to an easy score for Montreal. Alexei Emelin flung the puck around the right side wall, only for it to reach the stick on his opponent at the blue line. After a couple of nice passes, Jordie Benn snuck into the middle of the ice. It was a clear shot, and the Canadiens took an early lead.
The Predators defense stood up to the task the rest of the period. P.K. Subban, playing against his former team, executed five great hits. For over 10 minutes, the Predators held their opponent without a shot. It would be on a late power play that Nashville would tie the game. With just over a second left in the first, Ryan Johansen found Filip Forsberg. The puck then found the net.
The second period was simply even. Both team took nine shots. But neither scored. In the third period, however, things improved for the Predators. Just 3 minutes and 16 seconds into the period, Forsberg score his second goal of the game. The Predators took a 2-1 lead into the find minute of the game. Montreal pulled their goalie to add pressure, yet the Predators still found themselves on a breakaway. Two shots missed the open net, and the window was open for the Canadiens.
With 56 seconds left, Joe Morrow snuck a puck passed Pekka Rinne. The game was tied and headed to overtime. Nashville would come in waves at Antti Niemi, putting pressure on the net-minder. He saved every shot. One last dangerous chance for Montreal made for one last amazing save for Rinne.
After 65 minutes of great goal-tending, the match would go to a shootout. It took only three rounds. Kyle Turris found the net, and Rinne shutdown the Canadiens. Two more points for the Predators, and their eighth win out of nine.
Stars of the game
#1 – Filip Forsberg: This both goals in the game, Forsberg put the Predators in a place to win. Easy call here.
#2 – Pekka Rinne: What else can we say? Rinne keeps making save after save. His unbelievable play leads to wins.
#3 – Kyle Turris: Sure, it was his shootout goal that won the game, but there was more to his game than that. A CorsiFor of 65% to go with three shots, a hit, a key block, and a takeaway, Turris is playing on all parts of the ice.
Honorable Mention – Pontus Aberg: No, there was no goal. But he was all over the ice, showing more in just six-minutes than he had all season. It was a great sign of things to come.
The Nashville Predators will travel to St. Louis tomorrow night and face the Western Conference leading Blues. Both are looking for their fourth win in a row. The game is scheduled for 8:00pm Eastern.