A tale of two evenly matched teams took place at Bridgestone Arena Saturday night in front of a sellout crowd of 17,113. The Nashville Predators entered the matchup with 44 points and the Ottawa Senators with 46. Two teams from different conferences in deep need of points. In a game that started out fairly slow, the Predators dominated the second period and overtime, but were not able to notch any goals in the shootout, falling to the Senators 2-1.
The first period was one where both teams were experiencing some sort of feeling out. Not having played against each other at Bridgestone Arena since December 23, 2010, neither team was used to meeting each other on the ice. There were multiple attempts by the Predators to get things going, including a Nick Spaling wraparound attempt and a quick break out by Mike Fisher, but neither converted into goals. A nice bump in action came at 8:07 of the first when David Legwand left a drop pass for a Shea Weber slap shot in which Ottawa goaltender Craig Anderson made the blocker save. At 9:32 of the first, Viktor Stalberg takes a tripping penalty when he touches Joe Corvo, sending the Senators on the power play. During the penalty kill, Nashville did a fine job of blocking passing lanes and shots, killing the penalty.
As Stalberg left the box, Corvo tripped him on a breakaway attempt at 11:47, resulting in a penalty shot. Unfortunately for the Predators, Stalberg was not able to convert on this attempt. Both teams entered the first intermission scoreless.
Early in the second period, Seth Jones was able to draw a tripping penalty on Mika Zibanejad. During this power play, the Predators weren’t able to muster many opportunities. Comments from Seth Jones can be seen following this article.
At 6:23, the Senators struck first. Nashville defenseman Mattias Ekholm attempted to flip the puck off the end boards behind goaltender Marek Mazanec, but it resulted in a turnover. Ottawa’s Kyle Turris picks up the loose puck in front of the net and scores his 12th of the season.
One of Turris’ keys to the game was, “Just to keep it simple. We knew they were a solid defensive team, and we were just trying to break them down and get in there to get opportunities.”
“I haven’t talked to him; it was one of those ones that the fore checking forward had a really good stick position, said head coach Barry Trotz on Ekholm’s turnover. “One of those times that if he could do it over again, he probably should have just wheeled the net.”
Late in the second, the crowd seemed very out of it, as did the Predators, and Eric Nystrom decided it was time for a change. At 15:00, Nystrom and Ottawa forward Colin Greening dropped the gloves. The fight was lengthy, with both men landing punches. It certainly energized the crowd and the Predators bench.
“Sometimes, that can help the momentum of the game and help the building get a little bit alive,” said Nystrom on dropping the glove. “Like I said, I haven’t been getting much for good breaks and sometimes the fight is the easiest way to get out there. We scored right after so that’s a good feeling, but it’s part of the game and I think that’s a reason why it is.”
Coincidental minors were then taken as Rich Clune was called for boarding Jared Cowen and Jason Spezza received a roughing minor for going after Clune following the play. This put the teams at four-on-four at 15:57.
Following a big save my Mazanec at the other end, Seth Jones takes the puck on the rush and passes it to. Ryan Ellis. Ellis thentakes a shot from the top of the faceoff circle that is partially blocked. The puck deflects to Mike Fisher who buries it past Craig Anderson for his 12th of the season.
Going into the third period tied at one, it played out to be much of a defensive battle. Neither team was able to generate many scoring opportunities. One thing to note is the play of Rich Clune on Saturday night. He logged 12:07 on the ice and played a vital role in creating turnovers and causing disruptions in front of Anderson.
Without either team scoring in the third, the game would go to overtime with the Predators leading the Senators in shots 27-21.
Overtime began with a bang as Ryan Ellis absolutely crushed Kyle Turris just past the blue line. If the crowd was not awake for overtime, they would be now. This would fall under the category of “always have your head up.”
The Predators continued to dominate the overtime period with chances from Craig Smith and Colin Wilson, but could not beat Anderson. At 3:24, Nashville was given a power play when Marc Methot was called for holding the stick. Multiple attempts were given to Shea Weber to end the game on a one-timer, but the Predators could not convert on the power play, leading to a shootout.
Going to the shootout has frustrated Nashville, where they have only been able to score once. Unfortunately for the Predators, this trend continued, as Craig Anderson stopped attempts from Smith and Legwand, while Zibanejad and Spezza both tallied for the Senators, giving them the 2-1 victory.
“It’s frustrating, I mean we have lost two shoot outs and we have to start finding a way to get more points, but I thought we played really solid tonight,” said Mike Fisher on the the shootout loss while taking a positive outlook on the team’s play.”
Of note, the Predators have earned points in six of their last eight games. Although they may not be notching the regulation victories, they are still finding a way to earn points and stay in the hunt.
Below is post game reaction from Seth Jones and Barry Trotz.