If shots counted for more than just a stat in the game, then the Nashville Predators would be in a much better position than they are now. Following a 44-shot performance that only resulted in one goal, Nashville took another loss to a Central Division foe in losing to the Winnipeg Jets 4-1.
With the loss, the Predators are now 4-7-1 against the Central Division on the season. Scoring has been a major issue for the team the campaign. One game they put up five goals on an opponent and the next they put up one. Consistency has been a major problem this season and it doesn’t help when they face a goaltender that is in the zone like Connor Hellebuyck was on Tuesday night.
“We had a lot of great chances,” said Ryan Ellis. “We had a lot of shots tonight. We also have to give credit to other team’s goalies. Goalies in this league are good. Other teams are obviously trying to play defense against us. We’d obviously all like to have the puck in the net a little bit more, but that’s just the way it’s been lately.”
It’s almost become the story of the season that if the Predators outshoot the opponent that they lose. It certainly isn’t for lack of putting pucks on net as Nashville dominated the first 10 minutes of the game and registered 17 shots on net in the first period alone.
“We outshot them almost three-to-one,” said Ellis. “We’re getting pucks there. We’re getting shots on net. Obviously there are good goalies in this league and we have to find a way to beat them.”
With how competitive the Central Division is, the Predators already find themselves 15 points behind Dallas for the division lead and after the loss, only five ahead of last place Winnipeg. The last time the Jets were in Nashville in November, they took a 7-0 drubbing. Tuesday night, they got their revenge.
“They’re in desperation mode and we have to be there as well,” said Ellis. “The teams behind us are playing well as you can see tonight, they played well. Overall, I think especially division games are big games for us. It’s an unfortunate outcome for us.”
Over the past few games, the penalty kill had been on a tear. On Tuesday, two of Winnipeg’s four goals came on the power play. The second goal would have been difficult for any goaltender to stop as Drew Stafford tipped in a shot by Toby Enstrom in the second.
“Give them credit as well, they executed the plays they had to to get goals,” said Ellis who was unfortunately on the ice for three goals against. “It’s been a lot better of late. I think the last six games we were really putting something together. It’s unfortunate to have two against tonight.”
The season is long, and after playing 40 of 82 games, the Predators still find themselves in a playoff spot. For as much up and down as the season has been, that’s still a bright spot to be looked at if there was one. With only two more homes games left in the entire month of January, it’ll be a good challenge for Nashville to find consistency in their offense while on the road. If they cannot, it’s going to be very difficult to turn things around come February.
For now, the Preds will have to take what happened Tuesday night, learn from it and quickly try to move on.
“It hurts right now,” said Ellis. “Every game you lose hurts. No one likes to lose in here. We’ll see video and think about it tonight. After that, we’ve got to get rolling.”
Post game video with Mike Fisher, Colin Wilson and Peter Laviolette
Photo credit: Christina McCullough