On Wednesday night, the Nashville Predators made their way to Calgary to take on the Flames. Carter Hutton gave Pekka Rinne a break and did not get off to a good start. The Calgary Flames were able to get off to a 2-0 lead when their star, Johnny Gaudreau, scored both goals within 10 seconds of each other at 9:34 and 9:44. Nashville saw themselves get into a hole and would have to fight to tie it up.
The second period was back-and-forth but neither team was able to score. The 2-0 lead by the Flames would go into the third period.
In the third period, Nashville tied the game with two goals. The first goal of the period was at 7:44 when Anthony Bitetto shocked the Preds organization with his first NHL goal. Carter Hutton had put forth a great effort after giving up two early goals. With Hutton pulled, Mike Fisher was able to get the equalizer to send the game in overtime at 18:42.
And then, in the overtime, the Nashville Predators fate on Wednesday night was similar to the majority of the overtime games this season. Mikael Backlund scored at 1:12 to give Calgary the 3-2 victory.
Keys to Watch
If the Nashville Predators could convert half of their losses in overtime this season, they would be contending to win the Central Division. Granted, they still have an opportunity to win the Central, but it’s a long shot. They are currently nine points out of first with less than a month left in the regular season. The Preds have the most overtime losses in the NHL with 13, but Vancouver is second with 12 overtime losses. If the game goes to overtime tonight, there is no telling what the outcome will be.
Inside the Circle
Face-offs play an integral role in the play of a team in the NHL. The Nashville Predators have seen an improved production inside of the circle during the second half of the season. Nashville has hovered around 50% wins in the circle this season and currently has a 49.4% win percentage which places them 23rd in the NHL. On the flip-side in tonight’s matchup, the Vancouver Canucks struggle mightily inside the circle. The Canucks are last in the NHL with a 45.0% win percentage in face-offs. Since the acquisition of Ryan Johansen, the Preds have become exponentially better. Nashville has seven players with over 50% wins in the face-off circle (Salomaki, Sissons, Gaustad, Johansen, Fisher, Bass, Nystrom).
Stopping the Sedins
As usual, the Sedin brothers are the fighting force for the Vancouver Canucks in most offensive categories. Daniel Sedin leads the team in goals (25) and points (56). Henrik Sedin leads the team in assists (38) and second on the team in points (48). The Preds will have to keep a body on both of these players. Henrik won’t shoot a lot, but looks for every opportunity to set up his brother for shots. Daniel leads the team with 221 shots. If the Preds can contain the Sedins, they will look for their point streak to continue.
The Nashville Predators will continue their five-game road trip tonight. Be sure to catch all of the action on Fox Sports-Tennessee or you can listen live on 102.5 The Game. It will be a late night with a 9:00 pm puck drop!