The Nashville Predators were trying to keep the pace as the best in the NHL at home (16-2-1) on Thursday night against the Dallas Stars. This Central Division rivalry has been a good one since the NHL realignment, and on Thursday, it did not disappoint.
The scoring started late in the 1st period when Shea Weber was able to get his 9th of the year at 15:27. The Preds went into the 2nd period with a 1-0 lead against the Stars.
The first 10 minutes of the 2nd period was back-and-forth with no team getting any type of attainable scoring chances. After the 10 minute mark, the game began to pick up as Dallas struck first in the 2nd period. The unliked, Jason Spezza, was able to sneak one past Pekka Rinne as the Stars were able to tie the game at 12:51.
At 16:47, history was made. Recently called up from Milwaukee, Miikka Salomaki scored his 1st NHL goal, putting back his own rebound on a breakaway. The scoring rounded out as the Stars were able to tie the game at 2-2 with :02 seconds left in the 2nd period.
The 3rd period allotted many scoring chances to both sides, but both goalies stood strong and the game went to OT. The Preds did not mess around in the OT and Captain Shea Weber scored his 10th of the year only :17 seconds into the period to end the game as the Preds came out victorious with a 3-2 OT win.
The Predators have traveled to Minnesota to take on the Wild in a Saturday afternoon game which will start at 1:00 pm CST.
In their last outing, the Minnesota Wild (18-16-5) took on the Chicago Blackhawks. Minnesota was no match for Chicago as they lost 4-2. Jason Zucker (15) and Jason Pominville (9) were able to score, but with Zach Parise out due to the death of his father (Parise rejoined the Wild on Friday and is expected to play), Darcy Kuemper (lower body), Mikael Granlund (wrist), and Keith Ballard (Facial Fractures), the team was unable to overcome a strong Blackhawks squad.
Jason Pominville currently leads the team in points (32) and assists (23). Jason Zucker leads the team in goals with 15. Former Nashville star, Ryan Suter, leads the team, and the NHL, in TOI/GP with an average of 29:34/game.
Keys to Watch
After Thursday’s win against the Stars, the Nashville Predators are the #1 team in the NHL based on points. With 58 points and games-in-hand, the Predators have finally reached the mountaintop of the best in the NHL. The Predators are the only team in the NHL that does not have 10 losses in regulation (9), one of only a few that have 27 wins, and a team that dominated mid-season awards from various outlets. It may be early, but the Preds are looking like a force to make a deep run in the playoffs.
Depleted Wild Team
As previously mentioned, the Minnesota Wild team is struggling with the almighty injury bug. They are down as of recent, which most of their issues on ice can be attributed to injuries. We have seen the frustration boiled over in practices by Coach Mike Yeo. If you haven’t seen his tirade, its a must watch. Their number 1 goalie has gone down to a lower body injury. The list goes on. This team is struggling and the Preds will have the ability to take advantage of their misfortune today.
Thursday, January 8th, 2015 will be a day that Miikka Salomaki will never forget. He was recalled from Milwaukee as James Neal and Eric Nystrom were both placed on IR. Thursday night, Salomaki was as good as advertised. The Raahe, Finland native was able to get in the game and contribute at a high level. With his 1st NHL goal, 15 shifts, 10:49 TOI, and a plus/minus rating of +1, this will not be the last we will see of Salomaki.
**On Friday, Taylor Beck and Matt Cullen returned to the team from IR. Salomaki was sent back to meet up with the Admirals as they faced the Rockford IceHogs Friday night in Rockford, IL. The Admirals won 1-0 in OT.
The Preds look to continue their winning trend and go on the road. This is an early start game as the puck will drop at 1:00 pm CST. Don’t miss any of the NHL’s BEST TEAM! As always, you can listen live on 102.5 The Game or watch on FS-Tennessee.