There have been several painful losses for the Nashville Predators this season, but last night’s to Vegas might have been the worse.
It appeared that the Nashville Predators were on their way to their third-straight win when the Vegas Golden Knights had other plans. They never gave up and scored with less than a second left on the clock in regulation.
The Vegas goal, scored by
, comes as a product of the Predators not being able to clear the puck in the final moments. Here’s a look at the goal, if your stomach can handle it:
If we asked ourselves before the St.Louis game on Saturday if we’ll take five points in the next three games, I think we all would’ve jumped all over that. After all, November has been full of letdowns and ugly losses.
How it unfolded
The game opened up with plenty of energy and actions going back and forth. Vegas is an outstanding transition team they leans on a lot of team speed. They create scoring chances in a hurry, much like the Nashville Predators do.
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Vegas was testing Juuse Saros early and often in the opening period, and eventually struck first on a goal from Mark Stone. This comes from an aggressive Vegas forecheck and Stone being in the right place at the right time. Would’ve been a tough save for Saros to make.
Before the Predators could really find their footing in the second period, Vegas would tally another one from Reilly Smith. This team is stacked with some great offensive players, and they pounced on Nashville for the 2-0 lead.
I loved the response the Predators showed after Vegas’ second goal. They continued on their gameplan which has made them successful over the last two games. Throwing pucks at the net and testing Vegas goaltender Malcolm Subban. They definitely didn’t fold or go away.
Quickly after Vegas went up 2-0, Nashville would get one back less than a minute later. Mikael Granlund‘s puck luck has been seeming to turn around as of late. He gets the goal here for his 4th goal of the season, with assists coming from Roman Josi and Matt Duchene.
Momentum would start to shift towards the Predators at this point, and Ryan Ellis would get the equalizer after cleaning up a rebound in front of the net. Again, I’ve been preaching that the Predators keep throwing everything they can at the net and waiting for chaos to ensue. They did that here, and the game was tied.
We’d go to the third period with the score even at 2-2 when Duchene would strike for his 7th goal of the season. This was a team-effort kind of goal. Rocco Grimaldi gets the zone entry, Mattias Ekholm gains back possession in the zone, gets it to Granlund who sets up Duchene for the go-ahead goal. Beautiful hockey sequence.
Chaos and the unthinkable happens
The Predators would control the rest of the third period, with the exception of approximately the last ten seconds. Predictably Vegas pulled their goaltender to have the extra attacker.
They put a ton of pressure on Saros throughout this sequence, and Saros was pretty masterful. He made some outstanding saves up until the final second. Yes, it came down to the final tenths of seconds left in regulation.
Dan Hamhuis had the puck behind the Nashville net with the finals second ticking off. All he had to do was get one more clear and the game is over. However, for whatever reason he can’t get it done and the puck leaks out for a final shot on goal. The rest if history as Pacioretty snaps the wrist shot past Saros with around 0.3 left in regulation. It clearly beat the buzzer.
The Predators looked pretty deflated in the overtime period. Vegas, as you can imagine, was buzzing along and would get the game-winner less than two minutes in. It’s hard to respond after giving up the tying goal that way.
An intercepted pass off the stick of Calle Jarnkrok led to two Vegas players on a breakaway all alone. Saros couldn’t make one more miraculous save, and the game ends with Nashville just getting the single point. Vegas steals two points that they desperately needed.
As previously mentioned, these last three games have still been a great response by the Predators after losing six-straight. They’ve gotten five out of a possible six points, and were less than a second away from having a current three-game winning streak. This team is playing night and day difference from where they were this time last week.
You have to be pleased with the improved defensive performance from the entire team. The Nashville penalty kill has killed off seven of their last eight since the Vancouver power play nightmare. They’re showing modest improvement in this area.
How about Josi continuing his outstanding scoring pace? He had two assists in this one and is now up to 24 points in 24 games. The great Fox Sports Tennessee broadcast showed a interesting graphic during the game where Josi joins only Shea Weber as Nashville defensemen to be on this kind of scoring pace through this many regular season games.
Saros put together another solid performance in net. I’d say he’s had four or five really great starts in a row. I’m interested to see when we see Pekka Rinne get another start. There’s a back-to-back starting on Friday night against Carolina, so we’ll see Rinne in one of those two games.
We didn’t see much from Daniel Carr or Mathieu Olivier in their limited time on ice. Olivier managed three hits and a shot on goal, but Carr was kept pretty invisible. It begs the question of why Kyle Turris isn’t in there over one of them? We still don’t know that answer.
Last night stings badly because of how it happened and not so much by the result. They played pretty well and Vegas just made an incredible last second play that you rarely see in hockey. You have to tip your cap to them for that, and also understand that the Predators are going back in the right direction.
The Predators still sit in 5th place in the Central Division with a record of 11-9-4. They’re just five points out of a top-three spot with a game in hand over the top three teams in the division. With 58 games still remaining, there’s no reason to get too fixated on playoff positioning.
If the Predators keep replicating the way they’ve played in the last three games, they’re going to be just fine. They’re finally getting more stable goaltending, better defensive efforts from the entire team and getting back to the way they need to play on offense by piling up the shots on goal. This one hurts, but believe it or not it was another step back in the right direction.