Nashville Predators Get Sloppy Win Over Last-Place Arizona

GLENDALE, AZ - MARCH 15: Kyle Turris
GLENDALE, AZ - MARCH 15: Kyle Turris /

It wasn’t pretty, but the Nashville Predators continued their winning ways by defeating a scrappy Arizona team that’s currently residing in the cellar.

Games against teams in the cellar and no chance at the playoffs are always tricky this time of year, and the Nashville Predators witnessed this firsthand.

With the 3-2 win, the Predators continue their point streak. A shootout loss to New Jersey is the only result keeping them from a 13-game winning streak. You wouldn’t have guessed that at the opening of this game, but the Predators pad their lead in the Western Conference.

Any win is a good win, no matter who it comes against. The Coyotes have actually been playing better, especially at home. They have zero pressure on them, and are looking to finish the season on a high note. Those types of teams are dangerous for teams that still have a lot to play for.

Here’s how this scrappy game unfolded out in the desert.

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1st Period

Frustrating is a good word to use to describe the first several minutes of this game. The Predators came out disjointed and struggling to connect on passes. However, it did appear that the Predators were going to get on the board first thanks to a Kyle Turris goal off of a rebound. A smart challenge from Arizona erases this goal, and it was the correct call as the play was offside.

The first period continued to be chippy and physical. Very little space to operate and manufacture scoring chances. Some credit is owed to Arizona’s defensive plan to stymie the Predators’ attack. As a fan, it was frustrating to watch.

Turris’ line goes into the first intermission as the lone bright spot. They were able to finally start getting some pressure in the Arizona zone. Turris, Craig Smith and Kevin Fiala are major reasons the Predators are at the top of the NHL standings.

2nd Period

A physical opening period with over 20 hits between the two teams continues into the second period. We expected this against Arizona, a team with nothing to lose. On a broken play with seemingly no chance of scoring, Arizona gets on the board first. The big reason for this comes after Ryan Hartman‘s stick gets broken and he comes out of the play to retrieve a new one.

As we’re beginning to realize, we should never panic when the Predators fall behind. Even if their play isn’t looking pretty. Quickly after the Arizona goal, Ryan Ellis gets a pass from Smith to knot it up at 1-1. Best part about this goal is Ellis’ ability to settle down the pass off of his skate to beat Darcy Kuemper. The Predators’ fans made nearly just as much noise that the home crowd made.

The second period we saw a lot more offensive opportunities for both teams. Pekka Rinne had to make some elite saves we’re accustomed to seeing him make. A horrendous penalty call on Colton Sissons directly leads to a power play goal for Arizona. Despite Sissons being crosschecked and Kuemper slashing him, the call went against the Predators. The period ends on this note.

3rd Period

Less than 30 seconds into the final period, Turris scores a gorgeous goal against the franchise that drafted him. The Predators really took control of the game at this point, and asserted themselves as the better team. Fiala gets in on the scoring off a faceoff win to give the Predators their first lead of the game. With that said, Arizona didn’t just pack it in. They kept coming and forcing Rinne to stay sharp.

The Predators had to navigate around three penalties to keep Arizona from tying it back up. Rinne finishes this game off with some great saves to strengthen his Vezina Trophy campaign. He’s firmly the leading candidate to win the Vezina in my opinion.

This game ends with very little fireworks and the Predators get the ugly win. An ugly win is still better than taking the loss. I guess you get spoiled as a fan when your team is boasting a record like this since the opening weeks of the regular season:

At 102 points now, the Predators are inching closer and closer to the franchise’s first ever division title. It’s not the ultimate goal, but it will look nice up in the Bridgestone Arena rafters.

Chad’s Three Stars

Third Star: Ryan Ellis (1 goal, +2 plus-minus, 1 blocked shot)

If Ellis was playing a full season, he’d probably be setting career highs in goals and points. He hasn’t missed a beat since returning with 24 in just 32 games played.

Second Star: Kevin Fiala (1 goal, 1 assist, 6 shots on goal)

Fiala is quietly becoming the goal scorer we hoped he would be back in the preseason. His game-winning goal against Arizona is his fourth of the season.

Next: Predators Reach 100-Point Milestone For 6th Time

First Star: Kyle Turris (1 goal, 2 assists)

Turris was all over the rink and forcing the action. If not for a very close offside call, he could’ve had a four-point night with two goals and two assists. He’ll settle for the three-point night, and another Predators win.