On Tuesday night, the Nashville Predators looked to end their home stand with a win against the struggling San Jose Sharks. With the offensive capabilities the Sharks have, in times past, given the Predators trouble due to their size and speed.
Early on, Nashville looked like there might be some “icy” troubles as Matt Irwin scored at 05:26 of the first period to give San Jose a 1-0 lead. Pekka Rinne would settle down, not allow another goal, and have a “Vezina-worthy” night to remember.
The second period was a Predators breakout, dominated by various chances and Pekka Rinne spectacular saves. Craig Smith notched his 2nd goal of the game and his 17th of the year, only 53 seconds into the 2nd period. This was based on a carryover PP from the 1st period.
Nashville would cruise the rest of the way for a 5-1 victory, and to take their overall record on the season to 39-12-6.
Tonight, the Predators make the trip to Naussau Coliseum to take on the surging New York Islanders.
In their last outing, the Islanders had a dominating performance against the Carolina Hurricans, defeating them on Tuesday night by a score of 4-1.
The lone goal for the Canes was at 11:14 of the 3rd period by Jiri Tlusty.
John Tavares leads all Islanders with 28 goals, 30 assists, and 58 points. He is one of the top offensive player this season in the NHL. Jaroslav Halak is the #1 goalie for the Islanders with 31 wins, 2.48 GAA, .910 SV%, and 4 shutouts.
**Halak will be in goal tonight versus the Preds.
Keys to Watch
Away from Nashville
The month of February has been good to the guys in gold. The Predators have won 6 straight and have a winning percentage of .889 in the month. Of those 9 games, only two have been away from Bridgestone Arena. Away from Nashville, the Preds have a record of 14-9-5 on the season. Nashville has done well recently at Nassau Coliseum with a 4-2-2 record, and have attained a point in 10 out of the last 11 games. With an opponent like the Islanders, the Preds will have to be on their toes, and can’t come out slow in New York.
Tabs on Tavares
The Islanders have a superstar that is capable of scoring at any point. John Tavares is a terror with the puck. He has great vision, creativity, and the ability to bury the puck at any time, and from many angles. He is amongst the league leaders in many categories. Tavares is tied for 6th in points (58), 7th in goals (28), and tied for 26th in assists (30). Another glaring statistic is that Tavares is tied for 7th with 24 PP points.With all that being said, the Preds will have to stop Tavares. He is one of the best offensive players in the NHL.
On Tuesday, James Neal was the first Nashville Predators player that eclipsed the 20 goal mark on the season. Neal has reached this in each of his 1st 7 seasons in his NHL career. He is the 2nd player in NHL history to accomplish the feat. He will not be the only one to get 20 goals this season. Many on the roster are on the verge or should get the elusive 20 goals in a season. Forsberg (19), Weber (14), Wilson (18), Smith (17), and Fisher (13) all have the opportunity to reach 20 goals. Offensively, this could be the most impressive team in Predators’ history.
The Preds will be away from Nashville and the first stop on this current trip will be to New York. The game will be carried on Fox Sports Tennessee with a 6:00 pm CST puck drop. You can also listen to the game on 102.5 The Game. Make sure you don’t miss any action!