The Nashville Predators have officially started their 2022-23 campaign in Prague today, and topped the San Jose Sharks in a dominant 4-1 win. The game started out with an early Predators goal, but San Jose answered right back and almost took over the game. The Nashville Predators, who have responded to adversity in the past, did just that from the 2nd period onward. Let’s take a look at three keys that pushed the Preds over the Sharks.
Hello Secondary Scoring
This game would not have been won without the secondary scoring brought by the team today. The scoring opened just over a minute into the contest, scored by none other than Kiefer Sherwood. Sherwood was slotted on the second line, much to the surprise of many Preds’ fans, but he did not disappoint as he deposited his first shot as a Nashville Predator into the back of the net.
The Sharks responded with a goal of their own from Prague native Tomas Hertl after taking a penalty, and quickly started to gain momentum and dominated the remainder of the first period. The Preds started to have a little penalty trouble, but after the second period started, that all changed.
The Preds came out in the second period ready to respond, and respond they did. Eeli Tolvanen opened the scoring in the second with a beautiful snipe past Sharks goaltender James Reimer to make it 2-1.
Want your voice heard? Join the Predlines team!
Shortly after, Dante Fabbro found Nino Niederreiter who put it upstairs to make it 3-1. After this, the scoring stopped until right before the final buzzer. Mikael Granlund got ahold of the puck with an empty net at the other end, and made an unselfish pass to Matt Duchene who scored the empty netter to make it 4-1 with less than a minute remaining.
We’ve talked before about how the Predators have needed secondary scoring, and personally I couldn’t be happier to see it happen in the season opener.
Juuse Saros Shines in Net
What more can be said about Juuse Saros? He plays his heart out every single night, and once again was called upon to keep the Preds in the game during the first period especially.
After the goal by Hertl, Saros fully settled in and didn’t let another puck past him. While the Preds seemed all out of sorts, Saros stepped up in a big way and kept the game tied. Without Saros, this game may have taken an unfortunate turn.
As most of us know by this point, Saros is known for bailing out the Preds whenever the team is not performing up to their standards. While Saros bailed out the Preds in the first, he didn’t have too much of a workload after the first, as the defense stepped up to give him a break.
Nashville Predators Respond to Adversity
One thing the Nashville Predators did a great job of last season was responding to adversity. Today, they did just that.
After a lackluster performance in the back half of the first period, the entire team found another level to find their groove, and absolutely took over this game. The team came out fast, and started to wear down the Sharks as they propelled past them on the scoreboard and in offensive zone time.
If the Preds can continue to respond to adversity like they did today, this team is starting to look like a big threat in the Central Division.
Overall, this was a dominant win by the Predators, and a great one to open the season. If the Preds can continue to build off of the positives from this game, they can be a formidable force in the Western Conference.
Secondary Scoring, goaltending, and responses to adversity won the Predators this game, and they will need to continue to build off those positives to get ready to battle the Sharks again tomorrow at 1 PM CST.