Arvi scores a hatty, Preds come alive in 7-2 route of Caps

by Jackson Walsh

Riding a two-game losing streak before coming home Tuesday night, it was high time for the Nashville Predators to show what they were made of to get back on track. It was a grand homecoming indeed for the Predators (28-16-4, 60 points). A solid victory in which, from beginning to end, they annihilated the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals (27-14-5, 57 points) 7-2 at Bridgestone Arena.

From the very first puck drop, the Predators played a lot quicker, sharper and more organized than in Sunday’s game at Carolina. They limited turnovers in their own zone, were able to establish smoother puck movement and generate a ton of offense, but the big story of the game was Viktor Arvidsson.

What an impact he has had on the Predators’ offense since returning from that thumb injury that shelved him for 21 games. Arvi has 9 goals in his past 11 games, including the Predators fifth hat trick of the season. The bid for the hatty began at the 3:45 mark of the first period, after receiving a flawless feed from Mattias Ekholm netting the ice breaker goal past Phoenix Copley. 1-0 Preds.

Nick Bonino added to the lead by burying the puck out of sight of Copley that got lost in the back of the net, then the Arvi show continued. Now in the second period, Subban blasted the puck in from the blueline and Arvi executed a skillful deflection in front of the net the tip in that went 5-Hole on Copley and into the net. At the 1:20 mark in period 2, it’s 3-0 Predators.

Nicklas Backstrom provided the first bit of offense for the Caps on a power play goal after P.K. Subban tripped Brett Connolly. Washington would go on a power play again with another trip, this time Calle Jarnkrok on T.J. Oshie. But the force was strong with Arvi again.

Arvi stripped the puck at center ice with 1:45 left in the Caps power play, leading to a sweet breakaway chance and the goal that sealed the deal. Shorthanded, hat trick goal, 4-1 Predators.

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Viktor’s stellar performance was backed up with even more offensive firepower. Goals from Grimaldi ( a beautiful spin-around backhander), Bonino (his second), and Jarnkrok busted the game wide open for an outright route.

Our goalscorers were only four of the twelve Predators who gained a point last night on the ice. Matty Ekholm continued his great work on that side of the puck, getting two assists. Then Forsberg, Subban, Watson, Hartman, Sissons, Fiala, and Johansen all gained one assist.

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Now it’s on to the Jets this Thursday. The first place team in the division that has a hard time losing right now. A three-game win streak, recently a 4-1 win vs Vegas last night. The Preds are only two points behind them in the standings and can pull even with a win, in a race that shows no sign of slowing down any time soon.

Preds keep burning rubber on road trip, top Leafs

It was a dominating performance to say the very least. As key player have returned to the lineup from IR in recent weeks, the power in the Predators seems to have returned. This power was once again on display at Scotiabank Arena last night, as the Preds (26-15-3, 55 points) blanked the host Maple Leafs (27-13-2, 56 points) 4-0.

The win helped the Predators take back the reigns in the Central division, leapfrogging the Winnipeg Jets and currently leading by a point.

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The first story going in between these two strong teams was the return of Filip Forsberg to the lineup. Fil, remarkably is still tied with Craig Smith for the most goals on the team even given his 17 game absence. The other was that Toronto has been averaging 3.17 goals on the young season and the Preds lead the league in fewest goals against with 2.45 on average.

Rinne must have missed that memo. Actually, the game started with a few Maple Leaf shots denied by—-guess who—–the post. Auston Matthews rifled a shot off of it and then Connor Brown had a great centering chance that met the iron then the door was shut by Peks.

The game would open up, unconventionally enough, on the power play. Mattias Ekholm shows his stuff rifling a shot from the blue line, it’s 1-0 in favor of Music City 4:09 in.

Then shortly after a Matthews goal was waved off for being offsides, Subban blasted one through traffic to extend the lead 2-0 13:11 into the second.

Now on to the third, Toronto would have another golden opportunity on a power play when Auston Matthews had a wide open net, and yet again could not cash in. The Preds would simply just hold down the fort until Colton Sissons with less than three minutes left would not be denied as he clawed in with the puck to get the third goal across.

Though this seemed to be the knockout punch, the Preds were still not done, icing the game further as with a minute left Sissons found Kevin Fiala off a backhand pass that would find the back of the net again. 4-0 is your final.

A statement win on the road against one of the leagues toughest teams, this was what you wanted to see. A gritty close game that stats wise was all Predators right from the get-go. 30 shots, 3 goals past Hutchinson, 1 for 2 on the power play, very solid play.

No drama, no need for a comeback, no sloppy costly mistakes. Just good ol’ fashioned hockey. Toronto only had 18 shots on goal, but were chock full of golden opportunities that just didn’t go.

Now going into another clash with hated rival Chicago, we seem to be a lot more ready to face the world now after a mini holiday hiatus. Though he wasn’t on the score sheet, it would seem that Forsberg’s return proved to be another momentum shifter in how big a win this was. It’s a tale of two teams for sure, and we like this one better.

Video credit to Sportsnet

Preds Drop Donut on Flyers to ring in New Year (aka Short Guys Rock)

by Jackson Walsh

Happy New Year Predators fans! And boy what a Happy New Year it was. One day into the Year 2019 and the Preds start undefeated. The Nashville Predators (24-15-2, 50 points) rocked the Philadelphia Flyers (15-19-5, 35 points) 4-0 in Game 41 of the 2018-19 season at Bridgestone Arena.

The first period was a very tight one in which the Predators found it difficult to get it going. Five shots, five scoring chances, no cigar. Juuse was in, and he had to come out and stand on his head to keep his team in the game.

The Predators drew first blood in the second period when Craig Smith found the back of the net top shelf at the 2:03 mark. Kevin Fiala came up from the wing and set up Smith on a beautiful pass up the wing to give the Preds the 1-0 advantage.

The Flyers tried everything to get back in the game, but some amazing saves from Saros and our fourth string goalie–the post–left them empty. Two power-play chances for Philly were also made null thanks to our stalwart defensive effort.

The Preds would add to their lead when Viktor Arvidsson found some room in the crease for the second tally from Hartman and Johansen. 12:02 into the second, 2-0 Preds.

Fast forward into the third and Viktor Arvidsson scores again…….

6:15 into the third on a breakaway after a pass from Ellis. His second of the game, 3-0 Preds.

Then our man Rocco “Rocky” Grimaldi pads the lead…….

11:37 in, now its 4-0 Preds and basically a wash.

The burst of confidence the game for the mommas gave this team continued in this contest. It was definitely a return to form after a crushing six-game losing streak that showed a much different team than expected. It was good to get a quick weekday home win preceding a six-game road trip.

The passing was far more fluid, there were more scoring chances later in the game, and Juuse regained his edge. At times standing on his feet. And thought the Preds had an opportunity with a man advantage, they didn’t need it to get on the scoreboard.

Scoring 5 on 5, your #2 with a shutout, and still a better mascot than Gritty. What more can be said? Great confidence building second win in a row.

Predators look to end skid against Boston Bruins

Oh, there’s no place like home for the holidays. Or no place like Boston, close enough. Right before the NHL’s Christmas break, the Predators (22-12-2, 46 points) hope to have one last win under the tree going on the road to face the Boston Bruins. Remember fans, this is an early game, 1:00 pm ET/12:00 CT. So get some breakfast and flip on the television.

Our boys are wondering what they have to do to get out of the rut they’ve been in the last week or so. Not only have they lost the last three, but have just been unable to put the puck in the net as of late.

Only 5 goals our last three contests and, while not without their moments, not a lot of scoring from our current top line. Kevin Fiala and Ryan Hartman are the ones who’ve replaced the blown tires on that motor around Ryan Johansen in the stead of Arvidsson and Forsberg. The only game they got over a goal combined was last week against the Canucks.

They are three very talented playmakers and scorers, so it’s beyond me why they haven’t found the back of the net as late. As for the Bruins, Patrice Bergeron is looking to return Saturday to their top line alongside Brad Marchand and bumping down Danton Heinen.

The 19-12-4 Bruins are yet another average to good Eastern Conference team, probably a future playoff team, we must face. As of late we’ve struggled in these games. Nevertheless, we’re still only two points behind the dreaded Jets in the Central with still more than half the season left and in a good spot standing wise for playoff contention.

The projected lineup for us is as follows:

Kevin FialaRyan JohansenRyan Hartman
Craig SmithKyle TurrisCallie Jarnkrok
Austin WatsonNick BoninoMikka Salomaki
Zac RinaldoFrederick GaudreauAnthony Bitetto
Yannick WeberRoman Josi
Ryan EllisDan Hamhuis
Matt IrwinAnthony Bitetto

While the Bruins have a mountain of injury (with the possible exception of Bergeron if he returns) similar to ours, the one impressive stat about this squad is the fact that they lead the league in goals allowed with only 89. The duo of Jaroslav Halak and the longtime Bruin Tuukka Rask combining for a .923 save percentage is pretty lethal.

So in short, to win today, we have to score like I know we can. Part of that problem is our lack of ability to get shots on goal early and often and our sluggish power play. That two minutes with a two-man advantage and no goals Thursday is still disconcerting. While the night is still young on the NHL season, we have a lot to overcome for the 2019 end of the campaign. I’m seeing this be another close 2-1 loss and something to reflect on before proceeding forward.

Preds can’t capitalize in Philly, drop third straight

Well, that game sucked, but let’s talk about it.

The Nashville Predators (22-12-2), I guess you can say are in a bit of a rut without a lot of big names. Arvidsson, Forsberg, Subban, Sissons and Ekholm all taking a seat leaves this team shifting constantly to find the best lineup available. It hasn’t transpired well, and the losing trend continues with a 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers (14-15-4) at Wells Fargo Center.

It wasn’t all in the Flyers favor, though they did take a 1-0 lead again on the second shot of the game as Jakub Voracek found the empty net behind Rinne.

The Predators would get on the scoreboard when Nick Bonino found open net following a deflection in the second period that was later answered by Claude Giroux taking a turnover from the neutral zone and firing a laser beam past Rinne to give Philadelphia a 2-1 advantage.

From there, opportunities succeeded by frustration was the theme for the boys in gold, getting ample penalty kills to swing momentum but striking out on six power play opportunities. At one point, the Flyers had three men in the penalty box. It started with Wayne Simmonds hooking Ryan Ellis, then Radko Gudas flipping the puck over the glass. Then adding double insult to injury was Andrew MacDonald high sticking Kevin Fiala right after the faceoff.

But sadly, the Predators even having a two-man advantage for about two minutes simply wasn’t enough as they failed to muster many shots on Carter Hart. They had many shots blocked and try as they might could not find many open lanes to set up a score.

The last flurry of shots on the 6-on-4 looked maybe promising for the tying goal but fell just short. The loss had a bit of a climactic ending, with Johansen’s shot getting past Hart but clinking the post at 19:59, sadly sealing the deal for another loss.

Now is this really the time to panic for the Predators? Little offensive production with our top name scorers out, too many turnovers leading to goals the other way and still the matter of too many penalties. Hopefully the upcoming Christmas break will be a good rest for our guys as we try to nurse all our injured guys back to health to make a good run in the latter half of the year.

The last game before then is a matinee contest in Boston against the Bruins on Saturday 1:00 pm E.T. Maybe we can end on a good note.

I’m in a Glass Case of Emotion: Preds Fall to Ottawa in OT

by Jackson Walsh

It felt like the classic movie, “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” for the Predators in another road loss 4-3 in overtime to the Ottawa Senators. But we can overlook the final result for a moment, since a Predator loss on this Monday night looked nearly inevitable to start with.

This one started off ugly as the Sens pounced on the Preds early and often. Two goals in the first two shots of the game to draw a quick 2-0 lead where Rinne looked uncharacteristically beaten and the defense was nonexistent. The first score came on almost a fluke goal 2:25 into the contest as the puck barely slid across the line off the stick of Maxime Lajoie followed by Brady Tkachuk firing in the second.

Tkachuk’s goal came off a beautifully orchestrated tic-tac-toe between him and Mark Stone, but wait there’s more. Ryan Dzingel added yet another tally off a quick flick over the shoulder of Rinne, 3-0 Sens. That would be all for Rinne.

Taking the crease at the beginning of the 2nd, Juice had Rinne’s back from then on. The “Good” in all this is that this is that the Preds mounted an unexpected comeback. Especially in the midst of your number one goaltender being sidelined before the end of the opening period.

The first sign of life for the Predators was when Captain Roman Josi notched a power play goal off a good hard rebound to start chipping away 5:37 in the second period. The power play once again excelled, finally, as Craig Smith too would add a man advantage goal with a laser beam off his wrist, 3-2. Oh boy, here we go.

Josi found the back of the net again to tie the game at the 6:56 mark in the net clinking a back door screen tip off the post and in. This was all fun and games to get a little mojo back, but the “bad” was that the party ended when Thomas Chalbot found his shot. A short side shot 21 seconds into overtime.

But the game wasn’t without merit. Not only did Nashville get the point which drew them even with the Jets in the Central Division and with the Flames in the Western Conference, but they also have some spark going into the Windy City. Their next game, against the Blackhawks is a very possible road win, given how Chicago’s season has gone so far, but the boys needed some focus. Pekka will more than likely guard the net again, and really no more changes have to be made. Just better hockey throughout. There is some good news on the horizon though. Both PK Subban and Viktor Arvidsson have joined the team on this road trip which signals their eminent return to the ice.

Preds Squash Ducks, Welcome Avs Tuesday

Another exciting chapter of the great Preds-Duck rivalry concluded last night in stellar fashion for the boys in gold. The Nashville Predators (17-6-1, 35 points) and Austin Watson’s hat trick, solidly dominated the Anaheim Ducks (10-10-5, 25 points) by a final score of 5-2.

It proved to be a strong comeback from a disastrous Friday night in St. Louis where the Preds got drubbed by the Blues 6-2 in our worst loss of the season. It was also a welcome slot for Watson on the top line taking over for the injured Viktor Arvidsson.

The third line is still contributing well as Bonino found the back of the net and combined with Colton Sissons for one goal and three assists on the night. Every line is still finding ways to compete despite some big injuries. Most recently Kyle Turris was placed on IR after leaving Friday’s contest following a brutal cross check. This led to Calle Jarnkrok moving up to the 2nd line and not missing a beat. The depth at center for this team is one of its greatest strengths.

Coming up the Preds get to spar with the Avalanche again. The Preds are riding a rather impressive five-game home winning streak. The Avs’ Mikko Rantanen became the league’s leading scorer with the first and game-winning goal against Dallas Saturday.

Both teams can score, being second and fifth in the league with 86 and 81 goals respectively. The Predators handily won the first contest 4-1 back on November 7 when Colton Sissons had his second career hat trick. All in all, every game has had a good offensive showing since last year’s Quarterfinals from one of the two teams.

Bottom line: watch out for the Avalanche. They’ve been known to play their “A” game.