by Jackson Walsh
It was another great night in Smashville as the Predators (9-3-0, 18 pts) handily destroyed the defending Conference Champion Las Vegas Golden Knights (5-6-1, 11 pts) 4-1 in a Tuesday night smackdown at Bridgestone Arena.
Call it what you will, Subban vs. Subban or getting back on the horse after a 5-3 defeat against Edmonton, this time Nashville took the 2 points going into tomorrows matchup against the number one team in the East in the Tampa Bay Lightning (8-2-1, 17 pts).
Games in Smashville so far, continuing with the Knight theme, have worked a lot like a joust. Two teams going hard at it, hoping to get that sucker punch needed to prevail to victory and knock over their opponent. And it was Las Vegas that got the first “lance”, or shot on goal goal, to draw first blood from Reilly Smith on the power play 17:14 into the opening period.
From there, Ryan Hartman played a superb game, netting two on Malcolm Subban, the tying goal coming on a brilliantly orchestrated 1-on-1 opportunity, a stick side to rope it in back hand at the 11:27 mark. Then at 12:24, he received a backhand from Kevin Fiala to put the Preds in front with what would prove to be for good.
It’s a good thing we can rely on other lines to score, and not just the top line. 4 goals, only one from the famous JoFA’s, which was Arvi’s empty netter. Calle Jarnkrok put in the third goal at 6:37 into the third, giving a goal to the speedy posse of the Jarnkrok-Turris-Smith line as well. The offensive production, whether win or lose, thus far has been very encouraging.
Now the Predators go down South to face the Lightning, who are coming off a scorching 8-3 win over the Devils. They are first in the league in penalty kill as well as 6th in power play percentage at 29.3% to add to an impressive top ten standing in those two categories as well as goals per game (3rd at 3.6) and goals against (8th at 2.7). along with Andrei Vasilevsky already racking up six wins.
The Preds rank 27th in power play percentage and 22nd on the kill, but also rank in the top ten in goals and goals allowed at 3.5 and 2.4 respectively. These are two teams that can score and prevent scoring, but the Lightning seem to be a great team under the pressure of capitalizing on penalties, which we’re sadly still known for conceding, and killing their own penalties, to add to Nashville’s woes
Looking ahead, it’d be interesting if these two teams go at the high power ranking pace they’re going at, it’d be a good Southern state Stanley Cup Finals if both were to make it that far. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, we just broke out the tricks and treats. Still plenty of hockey to be played, let’s enjoy this fast-paced start and hopefully it’ll continue.