After the Nashville Predators got a 2-0 shutout against the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night, the team was riding high, and found themselves on a two game win streak (the team has not won more than two games in a row this season).
As great as it was to see Pekka Rinne get the 59th shutout of his career, the team was humbled on Thursday night in a 5-2 loss that didn’t have to get as ugly as it did.
Welcome back to Earth, Nashville Predators.
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The first period started out very back and forth, and at first it looked like the Nashville Predators were going to pick up right where they left off.
Unfortunately, bad habits started to creep back in. Instead of clearing the puck from the offensive zone, the Predators opted to go the route of trying to regain possession and counter.
What actually happened is that any time the team was able to regain possession, they were turn it over trying to transition.
The sloppy transition play led to chances Detroit shouldn’t have had. One of those chances, a sequence in front of the net, created a situation where Luke Glendening saw his initial shot bounce off Pekka Rinne, and in a diving attempt, he was able to bury the rebound and put the Red Wings up 1-0.
Still, the team didn’t look deflated, and they fought their way back. The team was buzzing when it was able to get into the offensive zone, and created some very high danger shot opportunities.
One of those opportunities came as a result of good movement from Eeli Tolvanen and the captain, Roman Josi, as they created an opportunity for Mikael Granlund to tie the game up 1-1 during a power play (hooray, special teams!). The team would end the first period leading 12-11 in SOG.
Same Ole Song in the 2nd
Stop if you’ve heard this before, but the team did not put forth a solid effort in the second period. That isn’t to say the wheels fells off, but the energy the team had offensively in the second period just didn’t translate after the first intermission.
The teams traded back and forth possession, but the Nashville Predators never fully looked in control, especially on the offense.
The Red Wings were able to get the next goal, a weird one to boot, when Sam Gagner would get his first of the night off of a shot from the corner that squeezed past Pekka’s glove and the post. The NHL.com clip even reads with the caption, “Sam Gagner fires a shot from behind the goal line at a bad angle and the puck slips in for a 2-1 lead in the 2nd”.
This one didn’t feel like it was on Rinne, but the overall theme of the night made things clear: let guys hang around in the offensive zone, and bad things can happen.
It stings to see the team get beat on flukey goals, and ones you would hope Rinne would save, but it just didn’t feel like that night. At the same time, the team responded pretty well and clamped down on defense. While they wouldn’t score in the second period, they also didn’t let the opposition build on their lead, and that was a cause for optimism going into the third period…the key word being “was”. The Predators continued leading in SOG 24-21.
Not So Glorious
The Nashville Predators have made a name for themselves in the Third Period. To their detriment at times, it sometimes doesn’t look like they are aware a hockey game is even happening until the third period.
Say what you want about the team, but the bring a different kind of intensity into the final third of the game, and they actually rank #1 in the NHL for goals in the third, with 25 (tied with the Vancouver Canucks). Tonight, however, was not that “GLORIOUS” third period we have come to live by and hope for.
Knowing the team needed to respond, they came out swinging in the offensive zone, and the trademark final period intensity was there. It lead to a goal by none other than Erik Haula, who has been somewhat invisible offensively considering what the team hoped they’d be getting from him and his game this season. Haula-lujah scored his first goal of the season off a deflection and rebound he was eventually able to bury.
I know what you’re thinking: “they got the game-tying goal, and then clamped down, right?” Nope.
They say things happen in threes, and tonight was no exception when it came to somewhat flukey, arguably “ugly” goals; you know the kind: they won’t make the highlight real, but hey, points are points.
Sam Gagner, the menace of the evening, took a shot that Rinne probably should have had, but he wasn’t able to get his leg down, and instead the puck went off his skate and into the net.
From there, the Predators tried to battle back, and had some VERY close chances, but couldn’t bury it. Adam Erne would convert on a Darren Helm shot that originally bounced off Rinne’s chest, but instead of corralling the rebound, Erne was able to bury it.
The Predators still tried to mount a comeback, only for Gagner to earn a hat trick off an empty net goal, and all that was left was the crying in the 5-2 loss.
The Predators ended the night with a SOG of 39 to the Red Wing’s 32.
What Comes Next
The Nashville Predators will try to shake off a loss to the team they are currently trying to stay above in terms of avoiding the “last place” moniker. Up next is a home stand against the Columbus Blue Jackets in a back to back matchup Saturday and Sunday night.
You have to think Rinne and Juuse Saros will trade places in net for the two games, and it will be interesting to see if Saros can return to form. At the same time, Rinne also needs to get back to the focus he has shown glimpses of this season.
The Predators matchup well against the Blue Jackets, but if they don’t play a complete game, Columbus will make them pay. Let’s hope we give Torts (John Tortorella) some reasons to put his best players in timeout.