Last night, the Nashville Predators traveled to St. Louis to take on the Blues. In a spirited match-up, the Preds had a great first and third periods, with solid play from all involved, including Predators backup, Carter Hutton. The second period was a different story.
During the second, Nashville surrendered four goals, three of the goals came from 8:22-13:02 of the period. Carter Hutton seemed to struggle during that time, but after that he settled down and was a rock in net for the Preds.
With a late goal in the third period by James Neal, the game went to OT, and eventually to a shootout. The Predators would lose in the 4th round of the shootout when Kevin Shattenkirk scored the eventual game-winner.
Nashville will look to rebound after last night’s loss as they travel to Colorado to take on the Avalanche for the 2nd time this week. The Avalanche have not had a game since Tuesday when they traveled to Bridgestone Arena to take on the Preds.
In that game, the Predators came out somewhat flat as they went down after the end of the first period 1-0. Colorado’s Cody McLeod put one past Carter Hutton at 11:52 of the 1st. In the second period, Nashville started to take control of the game and scored two goals (Roman Josi-3:33, Colin Wilson (PPG)-13:21). Jerome Iginla tied the game up for the Avalanche and at the end of the second the score was 2-2.
At the start of the third period, the Preds looked to continue being one of the NHL’s best during the final period of play. Filip Forsberg scored 32 seconds into the 3rd period and the team went into cruise control for the rest of the 3rd. Late into the third , the Avalanche pulled Semyon Varlamov, and another late lead slipped away, as Nick Holden scored at 19:34 to put the game into OT.
All night, Craig Smith was pressing hard, but he was denied on many opportunities. In the OT, after a spectacular pass from Mike Ribeiro, Smith got the puck on a breakaway and beat Varlamov at 2:46 of the OT, giving Nashville the win.
Keys to Watch
In any athletic arena, back-to-back games can be exhausting. Who will play? Will lineups change? How will the team come out? For the 6th time this season, the Nashville Predators will have games on back-to-back nights as they travel to Colorado to take on the Avs, again. It will be interesting to see how the team comes out during the 1st period. They need a win as they recover from a tough, physical game with St. Louis last night.
Hutton or Mazanec
The burning question amongst most people that I speak with in regards to tonight’s match-up will be the decision in goal for tonight. Who will Coach Peter Laviolette place in net? Looking at the statistics of both goalies, and the fact that Hutton was chased from a game previously in the season when the Preds had a back-to-back (Red Wings 1/17/15), the assumption has to be that Marek Mazanec will be in net tonight.
As of 11:15 CST, no decision has been made on who will take the position vs Colorado.
The Dynamic Duo
When Ryan Suter left the organization to go for a colder climate, panic set in. Who would take the role of being line-mates with, arguably, the best defenseman in the world. Insert: Roman Josi. Josi has proven to be an outstanding defenseman and become, not only an outstanding defensive presence, but also an offensive equal to Shea Weber. These two have become one of the most formidable defensive pairs in the NHL today. Carrying lots of minutes, killing penalties, and offensively producing at a high level, the writing is on the wall for these two to carry the team all the way into the playoffs.
Nashville looks to get back on track with a win in Colorado tonight. The game will be at 8:00 p.m. CST at Pepsi Center. You can catch the game on FOX Sports Tennessee (pregame at 7:30 p.m. CST) or you can listen live on 102.5 The Game.