Nashville fans were made witness to the joy and heartbreak that has become customary for this regular season. A strong start made the way for a pair of unmistakable defensive blunders. Despite the second period struggles, the Predators offense pulled through for the 5-4 road win over the Capitals.
A lot of good and bad to talk about.
First Period – Preds tally 3-2 lead
This period was fun to watch.
Despite an early tally from the Capitals’ Richard Panik and a hi-sticking call on our own Jarred Tinordi, it was clear to see that the Nashville offense had energy. While Washington came in fast, with hard-hitting offensive player like Ovechkin, Nashville’s ability to handle the puck in the opposite zone was clear.
Passes were strong, placement was good, and some early chances came to pass because of it, making the way for a six-minute run in which Nashville placed three past Braden Holtby.
Jarred Tinordi started of the scoring for Nashville at 10:15 into the stanza, his first ever in the NHL, after Filip Forsberg loosed a pass from behind the Washington net.
Forsberg and Kyle Turris also brought in assists on a tic-tac-toe goal for Mikael Granlund just a minute and a half later. Forsberg snuck a pass through a prone defender, allowing Granlund to put one up top, tallying his 10th of the year.
To end the tallies for Nashville, a leading pass from Roman Josi found its way onto the stick of Rocco Grimaldi, who promptly put a backhand shot between the legs of Holtby.
The energy from the Nashville bench was electric, but just 24 seconds after Rocco’s goal, Alex Ovechkin collected another tally after a failed clearing pass from Juuse Saros.
This would end the scoring for stanza, leaving Nashville disconnected for the rest of the frame. Despite the quick loss of morale, the Preds were able to kill off a huge penalty on Kyle Turris to end the first.
Second Period – Bonino nets own goal, helping the Caps take the lead
The Preds came out hot for the second period, keeping pressure on Holtby, but a blatant defensive failure set Nashville on the wrong foot for the remainder of the frame.
Nick Bonino recovered a pass from Dante Fabbro and attempted an outlet pass up the opposite boards, traveling in front of Saros in the process. Defensive pressure from Washington’s Carl Hagelin caused Bonino to quickly change his angle, sending the puck bouncing off the pad of Saros and into the net.
This disappointing play, credited to Richard Panik, tied the game at 3-3, effectively setting the stage for a Capitals comeback.
Yet another bad break hits the Nashville net, after a failed pass clearance from Callie Jarnkrok found its way onto the blade of Washington’s Lars Eller. In plain Capitals fashion, Ellers dropped the knee on a snap shot and Tom Wilson collected the rebound for a power play goal.
The bench fell silent, as the clearance would have certainly ended the Capitals advantage as well.
Play seemed to even out a few minutes after Wilson’s tally, but the harsh defensive failings of the period left the rest of the game with a bleak forecast.
Third Period – Offense comes out in full force to collect the W
The Preds started out the period rough, catching two penalties on Johansen and Arvidsson, but it was not long until the Predators would answer back.
Ryan Johansen, fresh out of the box, intercepted a clear from Braden Holtby. Rather than sending the pass across the ice to Callie Jarnkrok, Johnasen completes the short-handed play by putting the puck top-corner over Holtby.
This brought the game back even at 4-4 and it was clear that Nashville was back in this game.
Holtby had a few great stops, especially on Craig Smith and Mikael Granlund, but it was a crowded hash that would be his downfall.
Dan Hamhuis collected a pass from Johansen in the top corner of Washington ice, sending it out to Yannick Weber. Weber released a shot from just short of the blue line, which bounced off of Holtby and the post before finding its way in the net.
The game-winning goal, which came at 15:23 into the third, was Weber’s first of the season.
Washington continued to play rough for the remaining minutes of play, collecting a hooking penalty on Eller, but they did not have enough gas to get past Saros.
Looking back – Great offensive game, noticeably sloppy backline
John Hynes has attempted to get to the puck to the offense as quick as possible, and a series of talented passes from Forsberg and Josi made sure that was a reality in the first period.
Three quick goals could have bred some overconfidence in the Nashville lines, which could have lended a hand to the two strange goals from Ovechkin and Bonino; however this defensive disconnect has plagued the Nashville lines for almost the entire season. Whether it is an overextension, miscalculation, or just a lack of attention, it is clear that the Nashville D-line has to be stronger and closer-knit in front of the net.
Thankfully, the followthrough of the offensive lines created a winning score for the Preds, but it leaves one asking what would happen when they aren’t producing like they should.