The Nashville Predators brought home an early present in the form of a win over the Arizona Coyotes. While there was some concerning late-game play, Bridgestone Arena was full of energy and the fans were more than happy to see a win after this long road trip.
Before we break everything down, there are a few big things that came from this win you should definitely know:
1) The Preds are on 5-game point streak, amassing 24 goals in those games.
2) Pekka Rinne overtook Evgeni Nabokov for the number 20 spot in all-time wins.
3) Roman Josi is the first D-man since 2009 to have a 5-game goal streak.
First Period: Nashville starts hot, Forsberg scores
The Preds started out with an entry into Arizona and ice and they seemed to set up camp there. Chance after chance came up in front of Antti Raanta and he would follow with save after save, but it wasn’t until 18:08 into the period when Preds would get to see a point go up on the board. Filip Forsberg would collect the first goal off the rebound, after a shot from Roman Josi found its way out beyond the reach of Raanta.
The message of the period? Nashville’s offense can be extremely dangerous. Craig Smith and Rocco Grimaldi each had their own breakaways, and the passing game from players like Duchene, Sissons and Arvidsson keep opposing defensive lines on their toes. This is the kind of energy that has carried them through the road-trip, and every fan hopes it lasts.
Second Period: That there’s an RV
This new Arizona team has become especially dangerous after the acquisitions of Penguins veteran Phil Kessel and offense superstar Taylor Hall. Arizona played tighter to the puck than they had been able to previously, and failed passes from the Nashville lines allowed for new chances.
The biggest takeaway from Arizona’s play style this period is that they know exactly how to capitalize on a good turnover, and if Rinne was not on his game for a majority of the period, the score could’ve been a lot worse. The teams split goals over the period, with Viktor Arvidsson sending one towards Raanta that went up and over his shoulder, slowly sliding past the crease as Raanta fails to recover. This pulled Nashville up 2-0 just eight minutes into the stanza, but Arizona would eventually get one past Rinne. Arizona took a fantastic pass from their own ice and the young winger was able to put it top corner past Rinne.
Arizona successfully outshot Nashville 15-13 and was back in the game.
Third Period: Preds defense holds on
With Arizona playing better than had earlier in the game, the responsibility of keeping the Preds in the game fell to the D-men. Thankfully, they did more than just protect, as Roman Josi ripped a shot past Raanta from the blue line after a pass from Colin Blackwell. This assist was Blackwell’s first NHL point and allowed a little breathing room for the Predators, but Arizona almost immediately tightened the belt with a tic-tac-toe goal from Jakob Chychrun.
I could hear the whispers of worrisome fans in my section, as the game now shifted to a defensive battle, and with Arizona’s energy, it was almost certain to take place primarily in Nashville ice. Good saves from Rinne and a successful attempt at controlling and clearing the puck kept the tally at 3-2. The most stressful portion of the period came after a holding call on Colton Sissons put the Coyotes at a 6-4 advantage. The crowd rallied, the lines held on, and Nashville won the day.
Looking back: More issues than meets the eye
There were a lot of lucky bounces and great saves for Nashville, and they seemed messy on the last two periods. While they have been able to create awesome opportunities and find a new stride, the question of their stamina is becoming apparent. Hopefully the team can recollect for a strong win this Friday, and moving on to the Winter Classic.
The Preds take on the Pittsburgh Penguins at home tonight, Friday at 7:00 CST. You can catch the game on Fox Sports Tennessee and cheer on the boys in gold as they gear up for the Winter Classic!