by Taylor Parks
Fresh off one of their ugliest loses of the season, the Predators take to the road on a Central Division back-to-back road trip. Their first stop, the Minnesota Wild. Minnesota comes into the contest going 5-4-1 in their last ten games and fresh off 4 days of rest, looking to help further solidify their place in the playoffs.
It didn’t take long for the Predators to get some of their confidence back, as the Predators drew first blood at 8:37 of the first period. Set up by crisp passes by Filip Forsberg and PK Subban, Ryan Johansen (13) was able to bury his own rebound and get the Preds out to a 1-0 lead.
In the second period, Minnesota turned momentum on their own side, and really seemed to take control of the game. Joel Eriksson-Ek would get the Wild on the board at 2:50 of the second period on what looked to be a harmless play behind Rinne. After a few bodies collieded behind the net, Eriksson-Ek would simply walk in front of the net and beat Rinne on a backhand. The Wild would continue their strong play and would tally their second of the period on a goal by Nino Niederreiter just seconds after the Predators finished killing a slashing penalty. The Predators were outshot in the 2nd period 14-5.
Down by one Nashville looked to get back on track in the third. Unfortunately the Wild had other plans, and increased the lead to 3-1 just 89 seconds into the period. Jason Zucker would score his 30th of the season on an assist from Eric Staal and put the Predators even further in the hole. Frustration for the Predators would ultimately boil over for the Predators with just under 5 minutes to go as Predators coach Peter Laviolette would be given a game misconduct and was thrown out of the game. The Wild would continue to do a great job of limiting the Predator’s chances and Zach Parise would tally the empty net goal to hand Nashville their second straight loss 4-1.
Things We Learned
Ryan Johansen Hitting his Stride
After a very mediocre middle of the season, RyJo has really turned on his play as of late, adding another goal tonight. His play has not been enough to drive the Predators to the win column the past two games, but if the team can right the course and he continues to play well, it could serve them well.
Weber and Watson Injured
After being relatively injury free most of the season (Ryan Ellis excluded) the Predators have been plagued with some injury lately. Just over a week ago, Calle Jarnkrok was sidelined with an upper body injury that would keep him out the remainder of the regular season. Tonight, the Predator’s blue line saw some extra minutes as Yannick Weber headed to the locker-room in the first period after looking to have taken a high hit from a wild player. If that wasn’t bad enough, prime penalty killer and team leader Austin Watson was no where to be found on the bench in the third period, leading to questions about his availability for the future. David Poile has definitely prepared this team for injuries during their (hopefully) long playoff run, but I bet he was hoping his depth wouldn’t be used this early.
No Time to Sulk
Outside of the first period, it wasn’t pretty. It was much of the same we saw against the Maple Leafs just a few nights prior, but there is no time to sulk. The Predators have a very big opportunity to right the ship tomorrow night in Winnipeg and it could go a long way in gaining some lost momentum on the way to the playoffs. Did we suck tonight? Yup. Let’s just hope the boys can find their game again soon.
Photo Credit: (Oct. 4, 2017 – Source: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images North America)