A game full of offense ends with the Nashville Predators getting revenge after a relentless Boston Bruins comeback attempt.
The Nashville Predators are in the midst of a hot streak that dates back to the start of November. Just three losses last month and a perfect start to December has the Predators in a great spot heading into the middle of the season. They keep surging into December with a 5-3 win over Boston.
Revenge is the theme of the night as the Predators make up for a loss to open the regular season against the Bruins. However, they had to bust their tails for it despite building a big lead.
The opening frame is a successful one for the Predators thanks to Craig Smith’s two goals to build an early lead. Smith now has 11 goals on the season and starting to blossom into one of the team’s top goal scorers.
This period actually started off with a flurry of scoring chances for both teams. Pekka Rinne deserves a lot of credit for keeping the Bruins from striking first in the game. He robbed Boston’s David Pastrnak in close to keep the game scoreless in the game’s opening minutes. Smith scored on a rebound off a shot from Alexei Emelin to steal the momentum early.
Even after the Smith goal, Boston kept the pressure intense. Rinne keeps anchoring the Nashville Predators’ ability to jump out to early leads. Without Rinne’s solid play in-goal, Boston might have been carrying a lead into the second period.
However, Smith tallied another goal just 18 seconds before the end of the period. This one is a lot flashier than his first goal, per NHL.com:
The burning question heading into this game was how will the Predators handle the loss of Ryan Johansen. Breaking up the JoFA line offers plenty of questions, but the Predators responded with a two-goal lead in the first period. Smith is really taking a huge step forward this season.
Protecting leads hasn’t been a strength for the Nashville Predators. They’re still winning in spite of that, but it’s a glaring issue. At least early on in the period, the Predators were poised to keep piling on the pressure. A blowout seemed to be in the making very quickly. The Predators are one of the deepest teams in the NHL, and they come at you in waves.
Just over two minutes into the period, Nick Bonino gets in on the scoring. Some can argue he’s been a letdown this season. Either way, he’s been finding his way lately. His fifth goal of the season is beautifully set up by Viktor Arvidsson and tipped by Colton Sissons. Credit Bonino’s ability to finish the set up with a goal.
Kevin Fiala makes it 4-0 on an assist from Kyle Turris. The acquisition of Turris continues to pay dividends, per Predators PR:
At this point, you’re thinking the route is on. Yes, we’ve seen the Predators blow big leads. But the Predators were dominating pretty much every facet of the game, and Rinne was making his usual amount of elite saves. However, you can’t be so quick to claim victory with this year’s Predators.
The Bruins get one back to make it 4-1 and ruin Rinne’s shutout. Even with that, the Predators are cruising at this point. No reason to be nervous, right?
Here’s when things get frustrating. As great as the Predators are playing, they have to start showing they can protect leads. They can’t afford to let games slip away. It almost happened yet again against a Bruins team that should’ve already been buried.
The Boston comeback happens quickly with two goals within two minutes of each other. Zdeno Chara and Pastrnak tally the goals. The Chara goal should’ve been stopped by Rinne and was just plain sloppy defense.
One thing you can say is this Nashville Predators team is resilient. They respond well to pressure and their backs to the wall. Filip Forsberg’s 14th goal of the season stops the bleeding on a filthy breakaway goal. Surprisingly, no more scoring happens and the Predators get another solid victory to keep pace for the top spot in the division.
Chad’s Three Stars
Third Star: Kyle Turris
Turris is making a huge impact on this team, and quickly. He’s proving once more that GM David Poile is a mastermind. Turris has two big assists in this game. It’s hard to say, but he’s been a great replacement of Mike Fisher.
Second Star: Kevin Fiala
A slow start is starting to ramp up for Fiala. I expected a breakout year for him, and it can still happen. After his two-point performance against Boston, he’s up to four goals and 13 assists on the season. He’ll keep surging as the year rolls along.
First Star: Craig Smith
Can’t overlook Smith for kicking this team into gear early in the game. The Bruins threw the first couple of punches, and Smith responded with a goal quickly. That first goal means so much psychologically. Smith has 11 goals and will push Forsberg for the team lead in goals when the season ends.