It could’ve been worse with no points at all, but the Nashville Predators lose to the Anaheim Ducks in the shootout and salvage a point. Not good enough.
Managing just a single point against weaker opponents like the Anaheim Ducks isn’t going to get it don for the Nashville Predators. Every point matters for the Predators now more than ever as their playoffs hopes keep dwindling.
Last night the Predators came out with no energy and looked outmatched and outworked by one of the worst teams in the Western Conference. To their defense, the Predators were missing four starters for this game and on the second part of a back-to-back.
Even with that said, there’s no defending how the Predators came out to open the game. The Ducks were all over Juuse Saros, managing 21 shots on goal in just the 1st period. Saros incredibly just surrendered one goal.
How it unfolded
After managing to tie the game in the last minute of the opening period, the Predators limped into the break with fortunate to not be trailing by multiple goals. Saros was masterful to keep this thing knotted up.
The 2nd period came and the Predators looked much better and would take the lead on a gorgeous power play. The Predators set everything up in Anaheim’s zone, showed patience and excellent passing to find Smith for the tip-in goal.
We haven’t been able to say “gorgeous power play” for the Predators very often this season, or last season for that matter.
The Ducks would still keep piling on the shots on Saros and eventually score three unanswered goals to put the lead at 4-2. Two of the three goals would come via the power play, and one of them coming on an unfortunate deflection that Saros has zero chance at stopping.
At this point I’m thinking this is the scheduled Predators unraveling that they always seem to have as of late. However, the Predators would respond in the final period and tie the game back up at 4-4 thanks to goals from Smith and Rocco Grimaldi.
To go along with Smith’s great night, Grimaldi also had an outstanding game that kept the Predators in it. Without this line, the Predators probably get ran out of the building.
It would go to overtime, and the Predators would nearly end it on a breakaway opportunity from Grimaldi. The puck comes within an inch of crossing the line, but John Gibson would recover to cover up the puck.
Other game notes
He’s also just five games away from having the longest point streak by a defenseman in the last 20 years of the NHL. With an assist last night, Josi is up to 44 points in 41 games, and just eight points behind Washington’s John Carlson for the NHL’s leader in points among defenseman.
Josi looks highly likely to claim his first Norris Trophy this season. I don’t see him slowing down on his production much as he’s being forced to carry this depleted and underachieving team almost every game.
Saros takes another loss and gives up four goals, but it’s a disservice to how well he played. He kept this from being a similar outcome to the Colorado loss when the Predators gave up seven goals and were ran out of the building in Denver.
Despite taking the loss, Saros finishes with 43 saves and a .915 save percentage. The Ducks had 12 high-danger chances in the 1st period in all situations, but only managed one goal on them. Saros was the difference-maker to keep Nashville in it.
Not having Ryan Ellis or Dante Fabbro certainly played a role in the defense surrendering so many juicy scoring chances for Anaheim. With that said, it’s also still concerning that a team that’s one of the worst offensive teams in the NHL feasted all over the Nashville zone for most of the night.
The Predators failed to make up any ground in the Western Conference standings yesterday because everyone else they’re up against managed at least a point as well. The Blackhawks won over Detroit and Minnesota salvaged a point in a shootout loss.
The Boston Bruins come to Nashville on Tuesday night for the next game on the schedule.