With as even a match-up as you will find in the National Hockey League, the Nashville Predators faced off against Patric Horqvist and the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night at Bridgestone Arena.
There was no scoring in the first period, but at 15:04 of the second period Chris Kunitz scored his 1st of the year to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead. The Preds went into the third period down 1-0.
During the third, the Preds were pressing to score when James Neal scored his sixth of the year at 11:27. The game would go to OT after a very gritty performance in front of the Nashville crowd.
There was a controversial ending to the game as Filip Forsberg was in chase of Phil Kessel. Evengi Malkin used his stick to trip up Forsberg, and Kessel would put back his own rebound to score 41 seconds into the OT to give the Penguins a 2-1 victory.
Here is the video:
Tonight, the Preds look to regroup as they begin a four game road trip against the San Jose Sharks (5-3-0) with a 9:30 start.
In their last outing, the Sharks defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 5-2.
Keys to Watch
Tonight’s common theme between both opponents will be defense. Statistically, these two defensive corps are stingy (Preds-16 goals, Sharks-18 goals). Both are ranked in the top 10 in the NHL with the Preds at 8th with 2.00 GA/GP and the Sharks at 10th with 2.25 GA/GP. Goals will be at a premium tonight. Look for momentum to play a key factor in the successes or failures of both squads.
Domination in the Faceoff Circle
The Sharks are one of the league’s best at faceoffs. With a 52.9%, they are ranked 4th in the NHL. Puck possession will be a guiding factor in who wins this late game contest in California. While the Sharks are 4th, Nashville is ranked 30th. The Nashville Predators have been the worst team in the NHL in the faceoff circle this season. Another less than stellar performance in the cirlcle will doom the Preds tonight.
Consistency from #59
Roman Josi has been a model of consistency from the first defensive pairing this season. The Bern, Switzerland native had 55 points (15 goals, 40 assists) last season and is on pace for similar numbers this season. Currently, Josi has five points (2 goals, 3 assists) through eight games and continues to impress offensively, as well as defensively. He is second on the team in shots with 25, 1 game-winning goal, and one short-handed goal. He has stepped in to be a great alternate on 1st line with Shea Weber.
It’s going to be a late night with a 9:30 CT start. The matchup will be carried on NBCSN or you can listen live on 102.5 The Game. Be sure not to miss any of the action of this lengthy road trip to the West Coast.