The Nashville Predators traveled to Montreal to take on the Canadiens in the first game of back-to-back games in Canada. The first period began with the Predators taking advantage of a delayed penalty. Viktor Arvidsson scored his sixth goal of the year at 3:16 of the first period. The Canadiens were able to respond when Brendan Gallagher (16) beat Pekka Rinne at 18:36 to end the first period.
The last two periods were back-and-forth action. Both teams had ample opportunities but were unable to defeat the opposing goaltenders. The dreaded overtime came for the Nashville Predators. In the overtime, both teams had opportunities but none like Craig Smith. Smith had a wide-open net, shot the puck, and his own stick blocked the shot to send the game to a shootout. In the shootout, the Preds were able to win on a the final round. Craig Smith was able to get some redemption for his miss in the overtime to give Nashville the 2-1 victory.
Keys to Watch
Another Struggling Canadian Team
Tonight, the Nashville Predators will take on the next struggling Canadian team of this trip. The Toronto Maple Leafs are currently in a “dumpster-fire” season, building draft picks and trading players with large contracts. The Maple Leafs have lost six out of seven games and are currently last in the NHL in most statistical categories. Toronto is last in regulation plus overtime wins, power-play percentage, wins, and overall points. The Nashville Predators have an opportunity to take advantage and get two more points tonight against, what is considered, the worst team in the NHL. With their struggles, they will also be without All-Star Leo Komarov who is serving a suspension. Komarov leads Toronto with 18 goals and 35 points on the season.
Tonight, Carter Hutton is the expected starter and will give Pekka Rinne a rest. Rinne has been great since returning from his benching. Rinne has raised his save percentage to .906 and lowered his goals-against average to 2.47. Carter Hutton has shown his ability this season and will continue recent success in net, when given the opportunity. On the season, Hutton has a record of 6-2-2, .922 save percentage, and 2.17 goals against average with two shutouts. The Preds will need Hutton to remain consistent and be the steady hand that he has shown to be this season. James Reimer is the expected starter in net for the Maple Leafs.
Special Teams Analysis
Recently, the Nashville Predators have switched up the special teams with injuries, acquisitions, and various departures. The change has been good for the penalty kill. On the season, the Preds have increased the penalty kill to 79.8 and currently ranked 19th in the NHL. This is a far cry from the abysmal rating of mid-70’s and towards the cellar of the NHL. There has been some decline recently of the power-play. At this moment, the Predators are 11th in the National Hockey League with a 19.4 conversion rate with the man-advantage. If the coaching staff could get the power-play back above 20%, the Preds could be a trending team, making their way towards the playoffs.
The Preds are back on the ice tonight at they make it to Air Canada Centre in Toronto to take on the Maple Leafs. Be sure to catch all of the action on Fox Sports-Tennessee or you can listen live on 102.5 The Game. Puck drops tonight at 6:30 pm!