And, for the fifth time, the Predators could not win past regulation.
The Predators are now 0-3 in shootouts and 0-2 in overtime this season after a 2-1 loss to the New York Rangers. Jimmy Vesey and Mats Zuccarello scored for the Rangers in the shootout, giving them their sixth win in their last eight games.
Once again, the Predators dominated possession and shot chances in the overtime session, but couldn’t finish any of them off. That meant they had to face Henrik Lundqvist in the shootout, who had a .743 career save percentage going into the night, third-best amongst active goaltenders that have faced more than 100 shootout attempts.
Outshooting opponents in overtime is nothing new for the Predators.
“We got lots of good chances, we obviously haven’t found a way to score yet,” defenseman Ryan Ellis said. “If you look at the time we played New Jersey, I think we dominated play for four and a half minutes, they got one chance and scored. I think that’s kind of indicative of how some of the games have gone for us of late, anyway. Tonight was a good sign for our team. Like I said, we held them to one, went past regulation and got a point.”
These overtime woes are nothing new either. Last season, the team went 2-12 in overtime, but did post a winning 4-2 record in shootouts. Players have noticed that their play in overtime has improved, but can’t put a finger on what’s going wrong in the shootout.
“I feel like our possession is much better, I feel like it’s improving,” captain Mike Fisher said. “In shootouts, we just haven’t been able to find it. We’ve got the skill and the guys to put the puck in the net, we just haven’t had the bounces and we’ve just got to find a way.”
In the shootout, the Predators sent out Ryan Johansen, who had the puck poked away by Lundqvist, and Craig Smith, who shot the puck wide of the net. Both of those players are experienced in the shootout and definitely have the skill to score on those chances.
Head coach Peter Laviolette saw the improvements in the overtime session, but was blunt about the shootout.
“I thought we controlled a lot of the puck tonight in the overtime,” he said. “We out-chanced them, I think it was 2-1 in chances. It didn’t go for us. It’s been that way for the last four or five overtimes.”
“And the shootout, we’ve just got to be better.”
That seemed to be the general sentiment around the team after this one: they’ve just got to be better.
“We had our chances,” Fisher said. “Overtimes and shootouts just haven’t been our friend for whatever reason. It’s frustrating to lose like that. That was a huge game and we have to start winning those ones.”
The Predators hit the road to take on the Philadelphia Flyers and New Jersey Devils on Monday and Tuesday.