It must be beginning to seem like déjà vu for the Nashville Predators lately. Consistently, the Predators have been doing so much right and dominating certain aspects of the game, but still coming up short. Tuesday night against the Calgary Flames, Nashville completely dominated the first period, tallied a penalty shot goal, killed off a five-on-three Flames power-play and killed off a penalty to end regulation, yet they still fell short, losing 2-1 in overtime.
Consistency has been an issue for Nashville for the past month and a half. While they play a few strong games that seem to give them confidence, see the 7-0 versus Winnipeg and 5-1 win against Chicago, the team then comes out strong only to falter in the final minutes. Luckily for the Predators, they gained a point Tuesday evening against a Flames team that is now 6-0-0 in December.
“It’s definitely frustrating,” said Roman Josi. “You want to have consistency in your game. We just don’t have that right now. I think tonight was an example. We played really well in the first, then didn’t play as well in the second. We have to play to win and go for that second goal to try to win the game. I don’t think we’re doing that right now. We just get frustrated and not play the same way that we did in the first period. We have to play like that for 60 minutes.”
The Predators are now 0-5 in overtime this season. One of only four teams without a win in overtime. Other teams without overtime wins are Vancouver, Anaheim and Toronto. The frustrations of not being able to get an overtime win just add to the already mounting frustrations for the team.
“A lot, I guess, because we haven’t won one yet,” said Josi on the overtime frustrations. “I think we just have to be better. It’s a huge part of the game now. We’re obviously not doing a good job in three-on-three. We have to go over our mistakes we’re making in three-on-three. We have to win some of those games. Those are huge points.”
It’s not too often that a penalty shot is called in the game. When one is called, and a goal is scored, it usually amounts to a tremendous momentum boost for the team. Since Nashville was already buzzing in the first period, Cody Hodgson’s penalty shot goal just 5:09 into the first period rewarded the Predators for their hard work early in the game. Following that dominant first period, where they held Calgary to five shots on goal, the Predators couldn’t muster much more.
In the second period, Nashville tallied four shots and then only five in the third. The Flames put up 14 shots in the final two periods. The shooting trend began shifting in the second as Calgary closed the shot attempt gap, shooting 36 total shots compared to Nashville’s 26. Even with the attempts, Hodgson wants the team closing out the game before it even gets to overtime.
“I think we have to take care of business before we even get to the three-on-three to tell you the truth,” said Hodgson. “It’s frustrating right now the way we played in the first period to be able to stay consistent. We have to figure out a way to beat these teams and move up in the standings.”
Not only did the Predators outshoot their opponent and lose again, but they also killed off two key power-play attempts for the Flames. Early in the second period, both Mike Ribeiro and James Neal sat in the box while Calgary enjoyed a full two minutes of a five-on-three power-play. Nashville killed it off to the roar of the crowd. Then, with 2:20 left in the third period, Shea Weber took a cross-checking call, and the Predators killed off that one as well. While they didn’t put themselves in good position to win by taking these penalties, the penalty kill unit, which has been well below average of late, did a tremendous job.
Josi continued with his frustrations in saying that the team needs to find a way to get another goal. They must find a way to win the game.
“If it’s a tie game, you have to go for that next goal and try to win the game,” said Josi. “You’re not going to win many games playing a good 20 minutes then playing bad 20 minutes. That’s not going to get you wins.”
It never gets any easier in the NHL, but it certainly won’t for Nashville as they face the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night, Minnesota on Saturday and Montreal on Monday.
Positive Key Takeaway:
Calle Jarnkrok is continuing to impress as he fills in as a top center for the team in Mike Fisher’s absence. Jarnkrok was 10 of 15 in face-offs on Tuesday night, good for 67%. He logged 18:27 on the ice, including 2:21 on the penalty kill and 2:27 on the power-play. He was noticeable in a good way. His back-checking was strong, and his vision with the puck to make good, smart passes could also be seen.
Post game video with Shea Weber & Peter Laviolette:
Photo credit: Christina McCullough