The Nashville Predators had one last bit of business in New Jersey before the All-Star Break. The Devils were a pleasure to deal with.
The Nashville Predators’ various injuries have been well-discussed here. The New Jersey Devils have run into some of their own lately. Their Tuesday night meeting with the Boston Bruins resulted in several key players being unavailable on Thursday night. That was bad news, especially against a Predators team coming off a tough loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning and ready to take it out on somebody.
The Devils’ rookie goalie Ken Appleby looked pretty shaky in the first few minutes. New Jersey came out to a quick start and made their prescence known. Pekka Rinne made plenty of nice saves including one on John Moore. Ryan Johansen and Viktor Arvidsson were buzzing, including a good chance in front of the net. But Arvidsson just couldn’t get the puck in. Rinne saved the Nashville Predators’ bacon on a two on one opportunity. The first of many.
The Devils almost got a goal at 16:22, but Miles Wood knocks the goal over and interfered with Rinne. A Devils goal turns into a Predators power play. The man advantage goes by without an addition to the score column. The Devils go on offense immediately afterward and get a couple of good chances. The Predators lead 10-7 in shots, but are tied at zero on the scoreboard.
Not an inspiring performance from Nashville in the first period. Appleby’s probably feeling confident. The Predators have more shots, but the Devils have had more actual scoring chances. The Devils may be under-manned, but they came to play tonight.
Alexei Emelin gets the first shot of the period nearly two minutes in. At the 4:10 mark he sends the puck out of bounds and goes to the sin bin. The Nashville Predators manage to kill off New Jersey’s power play. Nick Bonino & Calle Jarnkrok do some work down low but can’t get it in the net. Austin Watson then lays a huge hit on Damon Severson.
Soon after the stoppage in play ends, P.K. Subban slaps the puck in at the 9:48 mark! Mattias Ekholm & Ryan Johansen are credited with the assists, but Arvidsson should get one for that screen he set.
The Devils have picked up the intensity a bit after going down a goal. A Nico Hischier shot bangs off the post. Nashville has really cranked up the defense. The Devils only got three shots in the second period. The Predators take a 1-0 lead into the second intermission.
The Predators have played a strong defensive game, but one never feels too good about a one-goal lead. The Devils have still had more scoring chances, and just need one to actually go well.
The Devils are pushing early, but the defense is holding up. Another shot, this time by Stefan Noesen, pings off the post! A Mattias Ekholm shot goes in at 5:36 to make it 2-0!
Arvidsson’s doing work tonight. He & Kevin Fiala get assists. The Predators go on the power play at 7:50 when Jesper Bratt gets called for a hold on Matt Irwin. Subban breaks up a 2 on 1 breakaway by the Devils. The PP goes by without incident. The Bonino/Jarnkrok/Fiala line has been fun to watch. The Devils go on a power play with 5:43 left thanks to Austin Watson tripping.
Arvidsson & Subban go on the shorthanded breakaway, and Arvidsson finally gets credited with a goal! The Predators go up 3-0 with 4:49 left!
The Devils work hard late, but end up scoreless for the evening. The Nashville Predators take care of business heading into the All-Star Break.
Steve’s Stars of the Game
Third Star: Pekka Rinne
This might have been the least eventful shutout I’ve seen from Rinne. The Devils caught the post with a bunch of shots and got a lot of chances, but it wasn’t one of those “Rinne standing on his head” performances. The Predators defense had one of their better efforts of late & everything looked easy.
Second Star: P.K. Subban
Subban continued his Norris Trophy campaign by adding a goal and assist to his season total. He also played shutdown defense & forced some key turnovers. Some people think that Subban gets too much hype because of his charismatic personality, but performances like this one show that he might deserve even more.
First Star: Viktor Arvidsson
I don’t know how a hockey fan can’t appreciate Arvidsson. He’s so much fun to watch every night he’s out there. Tonight he threw two screens that resulted in goals & got a short-handed one of his own. Arvidsson is always in the middle of the action and makes things happen, throwing caution to the wind like every game might be his last.
Most of the Nashville Predators will get the next few days off as the NHL holds its All-Star Game festivities in Tampa. The team will return to Bridgestone Arena on Tuesday night to face off against the hated Chicago Blackhawks. Coverage will start at 8:00 PM ET/7:00 PM CT on NBCSN & 102.5 The Game.