The Nashville Predators welcomed their old friend Cody McLeod and his new team to Bridgestone Arena on Saturday night. It wasn’t a warm welcome.
Heading into Saturday night’s game, Nashville Predators coach Peter Laviolette talked about how fast the New York Rangers were. The Rangers may be a fast club, but the Predators were too much for them to handle on this evening. Cody McLeod made his return to Nashville as the newest member of the Rangers. He got a video, but he also got a reminder of life in Smashville as a non-Predator.
Cody McLeod & Austin Watson are on the ice less than two minutes in, and somehow they’re not fighting. I’m not sure what to make of that. 4:49 marks the first Rangers penalty, as Marc Staal lifts the puck out of play. The second-best team in the league in power play efficiency comes up empty on their first try. P.K. Subban had the best shot on goal, but no net. McLeod with a shot, but Pekka Rinne makes the save! Filip Forsberg gets tripped & the referees seem ok with it. The Rangers commit another penalty at 8:46 when Brendan Smith trips Miikka Salomaki. Henrik Lundvquist holds the fort & the Predators miss another opportunity. Salomaki is in a hitting kind of mood tonight. Kyle Turris & Craig Smith get shots stopped by Lundvquist. Ryan Johansen also gets denied.
The Nashville Predators out-shoot the Rangers 12-5, but no goals are scored in the first. The Rangers usually struggle in the first period, but Lundqvist didn’t let it happen tonight.
I saw the play but I didn’t get the number on the truck that hit him.
P.K. Subban sends a missile off Jimmy Vesey into the net at the 20 second mark! To a nicer guy, it couldn’t happen.
Filip Forsberg & Viktor Arvidsson collect assists. I feel the fans missed an opportunity by not inserting Vesey’s name into the goalie taunt. The Predators go back on the power play when Mika Zibanejad slips & slides into Rinne. Some close calls, but nothing doing on the PP. Alexei Emelin crushes Staal against the boards with his elbow, and the other Rangers take exception. Vesey gets smacked down by Filip Forsberg on the other side, and we got a fight with Ryan Johansen & Brady Skjei! Johansen takes him down! How all this is going on without McLeod involvement, I have no idea.
Roman Josi makes a turnover that leads to a Peter Holland goal at the 10:21 mark. Coach Peter Laviolette motions the referee over for an offsides challenge. After further review, the Rangers were offsides! Nashville remains ahead 1-0 for now.
The Rangers have a good scoring chance created by a Subban turnover…which was created by Mats Zuccarello tripping him. To the penalty box he goes at 14:01. The Nashville Predators are 0-4 on power plays tonight.
Craig Smith steals the puck & Kevin Fiala takes it to the house! 2-0, Nashville!
Trips go uncalled on both sides, and the second period comes to an end. The Nashville Predators are ahead 2-0 in goals & 23-8 in shots.
It doesn’t take long for a Predators answer! Colton Sissons re-directs a P.K. Subban shot into the net at the 2:36 mark. The Energy Line comes through for Nashville again.
McLeod goes & skates right into Watson from behind, trying to goad his replacement. We’ll keep an eye on the situation. Emelin delivers some heavy lumber to McLeod on Cody’s next shift. There’s a different sound when Emelin hits somebody. Arvidsson takes an awkward tumble into the boards. Rangers with a couple of high-danger chances.
Emelin goes to the penalty box at 9:43 after interfering with Mats Zuccarello. He’s been interfering with people all night, honestly. The Predators kill off the power play. David Desharnais draws a penalty on Craig Smith at 13:46. Zibanejad scores the goal at 14:35 to bring the Rangers within one again.
Sixteen seconds later, it’s Arvidsson with the answer! The other members of the JoFA line get credited with assists.
Lundvquist leaves the net with more than three minutes left. It’s 6 on 5 until Michael Grabner grabs Subban & heads to the box. The Rangers empty the net again once they get the puck on Nashville’s side, but the Predators take it back down. Kevin Fiala gets his second goal of the night & it’s 5-2! Subban takes a shot into the boards from Jesper Fast, & Ekholm sticks up for his partner. Off-setting penalties make it 4 on 4 to end the game.
Steve’s Three Stars
Third Star: Kevin Fiala
Can we call it a breakout season? Fiala has continually been one of the most impressive Predators on offense. That move on his first goal was some good stuff. It’s going to be fun to watch his game continue to develop.
Second Star: Viktor Arvidsson
The entire JoFA line had themselves a productive night. It looked like shades of their performance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, which bodes well for the future. As usual, Arvidsson got down low & made life miserable for the opposing goalie. His goal right after the Rangers’ second goal pretty much killed any hopes the road team had of coming back.
First Star: P.K. Subban
Subban added a goal & assist to his already impressive totals for the season. It’s nice to see him back with Mattias Ekholm, as they’re just ridiculous together. Alexei Emelin had himself a good night beating the heck out of people on the third pairing, so everybody’s happy. P.K. had an outstanding January and is well on his way to another fantastic month. Plus/minus ratings are said to be overrated, but a +4 is pretty darn good no matter what you think of the stat.
The Nashville Predators will meet another Metropolitan Division team on Monday night to start their Eastern Conference road trip. They’ll travel to Brooklyn’s Barclays Center & take on the New York Islanders. Puck drop will take place around 7:00 PM ET & 6:00 PM CT on Fox Sports Tennessee & 102.5 The Game.