The Nashville Predators had a grueling weekend. After going to OT against the Los Angeles Kings, the Preds took on the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday. The Ducks are currently leading the NHL in points and are a clutch team. Going into the Sunday night matchup, the Ducks were 19-0-6 in one point games. This was going to be a tough test as they traveled into the Honda Center.
Pekka Rinne was given a break and the Preds sent out Carter Hutton to take down the powerful Anaheim offense.
The 1st period was dominated by the Ducks. With excellent chances and physical play, the Ducks were able to score 1st by their leading goal scorer, Matt Beleskey at 12:15. The Preds were able to hold and the 1st period ended with the Ducks up 1-0.
The 2nd period saw the Preds get more involved, including very undisciplined play by Anaheim late in the period. The scoring started early with Mattias Ekholm at 1:38, but the Ducks responded at 2:52 when Corey Perry put away his 15th of the year.
Anaheim started to get frustrated with the Preds style of play and made undisciplined actions on the ice. From 12:14-19:18 of the 2nd period, Anaheim committed 4 penalties by Francois Beauchemin (Holding the Stick), Corey Perry (Tripping), Tim Jackman (Elbowing), and an egregious “mugging” by goalie Frederik Andersen (Roughing).
The Preds were able to get two PPG’s from Seth Jones (13:50) and Craig Smith (17:14). The Preds went into the 3rd period with a 3-2 lead.
The back-and-forth of the 3rd period was dominated by the Ducks. Nashville was laying back in their zone, and once again, another lead slipped away as Francois Beauchemin scored at 17:43 on a tip-in. For the 2nd time in as many nights, the Preds went to OT.
In the OT, Preds took it up a notch, but was unable to break through, so the game went to a shootout. In the shootout, the Preds sent Roman Josi (No goal), Ryan Ellis (No goal), and Craig Smith (Goal). The Ducks sent Corey Perry (No goal), Jakob Silfverberg (Goal), and Ryan Kesler (Goal).
The Preds will hit the ice tonight as they have made it back to the friendly confines of Bridgestone Arena to take on the Carolina Hurricanes.
In their latest outing, the Hurricanes (12-23-4) faced off against the Boston Bruins. There was very little scoring, but the Hurricanes were able to come out on top 2-1 in a shootout.
At 19:26 of the 1st period, Carolina’s Patrick Dwyer scored his 3rd of the year to give his team the 1-0 lead. In the 2nd period, the Bruins were able to tie it at 14:35 with Patrice Bergeron’s 8th of the year. There was no scoring in the 3rd, nor the OT so the match went to a shootout.
In the shootout, Eric Staal was able to breakthrough and the Hurricanes won their battle with the Bruins, 2-1.
The Canes have struggled this year with only 12 wins. On the season, the Hurricanes are being led in points by Eric Staal With 10 goals and 12 assists, Staal currently has 22 points on the season.
Keys to Watch
Leads Slipping Away
As of recent games, the Preds have seen leads slip away late in games. When a 6-3 lead is lost, such as in Los Angeles, this is a cause for great concern. Many pundits, prognosticators, and onlookers are starting to panic because of this minor hiccup. Like in many circumstances with this Nashville Predators team, I foresee this to be remedied, but only time will tell.
Mattias Ekholm Adjusting Well
Since coming to Nashville, Mattias Ekholm has done an excellent job of adjusting to the NHL game. Over the past two games, he has recorded two goals and looks to be excelling in Coach Laviolette’s system. Ekholm has shown to be a very physical player with the ability to help out on the offensive end. Hopefully, this young Swedish defenseman will continue to make a huge impact in Nashville.
Improvement on the Powerplay
As of recent games, the Nashville Predators have produced and increased the ability to score on the PP. The Preds have seven goals in their last 20 attempts on the Powerplay. With this increased production, Nashville has increased their percentage and rankings amongst the NHL in the PP. Currently, the Preds are ranked 24th with a percentage of 15.1% on the PP. This is much better than previously in the year.
The Preds will make it back to Bridgestone Arena tonight. Looking to avenge a lost previously attained to the Canes in the season, the Predators need to focus on getting the win at home tonight. If you can’t make it out to support the Preds live, you can always listen live on 102.5 The Game or watch on FS-Tennessee. Puck drops at 7:00 pm.