We finally have regular season hockey back as the Nashville Predators erupt in third period to get the win over the Minnesota Wild.
Things got a little shaky going into the 2nd intermission, but the Nashville Predators prevailed to get the 5-2 win over the Minnesota Wild. The final score doesn’t tell the whole story, however. The Wild made thing nerve-racking before Nashville finally took control.
The Predators enter the 2019-20 regular season with high expectations once again thanks to what’s considered a deep roster, and a rock solid top two lines. Matt Duchene came in as the superstar acquisition over the offseason, and he wasted no time making his presence felt.
This game started off with two divisional opponents feeling each other out and a little bit of sloppy play on both sides. By the second period, things opened up and both goaltenders had to be sharp. It came down to which goaltender could hold it together longer. The Predators had to go into comeback mode to pull this one out.
Matt Duchene impresses in debut
Let’s start with Duchene, who comes into this season with a lot of pressure to help the Predators get over the hump. No one really thinks he’s the savior, because most people understand the Predators don’t need a savior. They just need one more big piece to fill out the their top two lines.
More from Predlines
- Nashville Predators 2023 Training Camp Spotlight: Kiefer Sherwood
- Captain Candidates if Nashville Predators Didn’t Have Roman Josi
- The All-Time 25 Games or Less Nashville Predators Lineup
- Nashville Predators 2023 Training Camp Spotlight: Cody Glass
- Joakim Kemell Flashes his Offense in Nashville Predators Loss to Tampa
Duchene was all over the ice Thursday night making plays. He didn’t find the back of the net, but he did tally three assists. His first helper came off a faceoff win in the offensive zone, which eventually ended up coming off the skate of Ryan Ellis for the first goal of the game. Maybe a bit of luck, but Duchene’s ability to win important faceoffs can’t be overlooked here.
His second assist is the prettiest of the three as he stopped on a dime to feed Roman Josi for the powerful shot on goal. Mikael Granlund gets the tip-in for the goal, but this all starts with Duchene’s ice vision and speed. Here’s a look at the goal from the Nashville Predators website:
Duchene’s final assist comes on an empty net goal from Filip Forsberg to close out the game. The Predators were setting up in Minnesota’s zone with an empty net, and Duchene found Mattias Ekholm who then finds Forsberg. It caps off a great debut for Duchene in a Predators uniform.
Pekka Rinne looks solid
Rinne didn’t have to do a whole lot early on. The Wild didn’t even manage their first shot on goal until almost nine minutes into the game. When the Wild did get opportunities, Rinne was solid enough to keep it scoreless early on.
This game took a bad turn in quick fashion after a too many men on the ice penalty by the Predators. It’s a sloppy penalty that helps lead to Minnesota’s Jason Zucker getting a goal on a deflection that Rinne had no chance at.
Minnesota’s second goal comes less than a minute later on some shaky defense in front of Rinne. Again, this would’ve been a tough save for any goaltender to make. You can’t put this goal in the category of an ordinary save. After this, Rinne really settled down and played like a former Vezina Trophy winner.
Rinne wasn’t tested too much for the entirety of the game facing just 24 shots, and stopping 22 of them. He did makes some amazing saves late in the game to keep it a multi-goal lead for the Predators. All in all, a great start to the season for Rinne.
Other things that stood out
Special teams wasn’t all too glamorous for the Predators despite the 5-2 win. They failed on both power play attempts, with the first one looking disjointed. They also allowed one power play goal on their three penalty kills. Last season the Predators had the sixth-ranked penalty kill.
The Predators have always seemed to be strong in the faceoff circle, and that continued in the season-opener. They won 58 percent of their faceoffs, with Ryan Johansen, Nick Bonino and Kyle Turris all being solid on their faceoffs. As mentioned earlier, Duchene’s faceoff win led to the first goal of the game by Ellis.
Let’s show some love to Austin Watson who had himself a strong game to help boost the bottom six. He had four blocked shots, four hits and the game-winning goal that came less than two minutes into the third period. This is one of those classic dirty goals in the trenches. Josi deserves a lot of credit for this goal with his skating ability as he had almost the entire Minnesota defense chasing him.
The Predators continue their four-game homestand to start the new season as they’ll take on the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night. Always fun to see the original hated rival of the Predators return to Nashville. The Red Wings won both meetings against the Predators last season. Puck drop will be 7 P.M. CDT and on Fox Sports Tennessee.