Nashville Predators: Saros Produces A Golden Night For The Predators

NASHVILLE, TN - JANUARY 16: Juuse Saros /

The Nashville Predators came off a bye week & were met by the best team in the Western Conference. The home team responded in the fashion we hoped.

There were plenty of reasons to be pessimistic on Tuesday night. The Nashville Predators were facing the team with the best record in the Western Conference. The Vegas Golden Knights are for real. Viktor Arvidsson was unavailable after an injury suffered during practice on Monday. With Filip Forsberg already out, the idea of missing the top two wingers was less than ideal.

You still have to actually play the games though. Even if your top two wings are out, you have to play the best team in the Western Conference if they’re on your schedule. The Nashville Predators never made an excuse as they charged onto the ice.

First Period

It’s an interesting lineup tonight for the Nashville Predators. Juuse Saros being in is interesting enough, but Viktor Arvidsson is injured, and lines are shuffled to the point where we don’t know what to expect from anything. It was good back and forth hockey but no scoring and no penalties early. Kevin Fiala was winning plenty of one-on-one matchups.

A penalty finally gets called with 6:33 left in the first. Alexei Emelin interferes with Tomas Nosek. Saros makes some good saves and leads the Predators to kill off the power play.  Vegas dominated the shot column but Saros never lost his composure. Vegas then goes a man down as James Neal slashed Frederick Gaudreau. Remember when we liked him? Vegas held the Predators off for the rest of the period.

Second Period

The Knights kill off the PP to begin the period. Some more back and forth hockey and the Predators draw another penalty when Brayden McNabb interferes with Nick Bonino at the 5:54 mark. The penalty is killed off, but Colton Sissons slashes a visitor at the 11:19 mark. The Knights probably should have scored soon afterward, but Saros made some crazy saves, then Austin Watson cleared the puck to the other side of the ice with his body. The Nashville Predators did some good work to kill that off.

Sissons heads back to the box again at 16:23 for hooking.  The Predators kill the penalty. Ryan Johansen gets hit up high and there’s no call from the officials. William Carrier delivered the hit, but it’s all good apparently. That really should have been called, but I imagine Carrier will get a call from the department of player safety sometime tomorrow.

Johansen was out for the rest of the game, so things got even more interesting with the lines. That replay looks worse & worse each time. These referees chose to ignore it, it’ll be interesting to see what George Parros does.

Third Period

This game has been a defensive classic so far, and that trend continues early in the third period. The Knights have gotten more shots, but Saros has done the work. More back & forth, and finally somebody gets on the board!

Fiala has been very impressive in this game. It makes perfect sense he would get the first goal top shelf, where Momma hides the cookies 8:00 into the third period! Sissons & P.K. Subban got assists there. Saros is under pressure soon after, and he stands his ground! This guy was working his butt off in Milwaukee during the break, came back, got the start to the surprise of most of us, and has had a great night so far.

We’ll see if it lasts, as Nick Bonino gets whistled for holding with 4:20 left. It’s all good though. Saros holds the net. Marc-Andre Fleury leaves the net with 2:00 left. Timeout with 1:28 left after an alleged icing by Nashville. Another icing gets called real quick. I’ve never seen it called that quick. The Predators send it down the ice again. One more chance gets killed off, and the Nashville Predators score their first victory over the Vegas Golden Knights!

Steve’s Three Stars

Third Star: P.K. Subban

P.K. Subban got an assist on Fiala’s goal and was one of the defensemen that was stuck on the ice at the end of the game. He had the most minutes on the ice of anybody, and nobody found the net on his watch.

Second Star: Kevin Fiala

Kevin Fiala was working all night. He was winning the battles along the boards, he was taking the shots, and eventually, he found the net. A lot of people had high hopes for him, and he’s living up to that potential.

First Star: Juuse Saros

A 43 save shutout against the top team in the Western Conference? Are you kidding me? Juuse Saros had a tough start for the season and a lot of us had our doubts, but this guy is on a roll right now. If he keeps doing what he’s doing, we don’t have to worry about Pekka Rinne getting old overnight.

Next Game

The Nashville Predators return to Bridgestone Arena on Thursday night. I would usually say that a night against the lowly Arizona Coyotes would be easy peezy lemon breezy, but the Predators lost in a shootout the last time they played. Revenge will hopefully be had at 8:00 PM ET/7:00 PM CT on Fox Sports Tennessee & 102.5 The Game.

Next: Could The Predators Re-Sign James Neal?