(Photo Courtesy of John Russell/Getty Images)
What a game at the Bridgestone arena. Easily the grittiest performance I have seen from our team this year. They had to match the grinding physical play of the Dallas Stars, kill off exhuberant penalties and, most impressively, come back twice to finally win it in 5-4 in OT. Fans of the team got a real treat tonight.
Full re-cap of the exciting affair after the break, just click read more!
Nashville came into the game riding a 2+ game goaless streak - their second lengthy goaless streak of the season - and the first half of the game continued in very similar fashion. It was a deadlock with limited shots to talk about.
Luckily for Predators fans, Smith was able to break the deadlock with 6 minutes left in the first. Smith took a pass from Clune and found some space just high of faceoff circle (Nilstorp's right). He had more than enough time to place a low shot that would beat Nilstorp. Other than the goal there was one penalty in the first.
No one could have predicted the game that followed.
The second period had a little bit of everything and saw some very rough play. The fury started early with a Dallas goal 1:20 in. It was a Loui Eriksson pass from behind the net that Derek Roy took a swing at and missed completely. Unfortunately, that whiff was enough to bait Rinne, who foresaw a shot and couldn't react to the Matt Fraser wrister from the hashmarks.
It was a nice goal that was followed up quickly by Reilly Smith's tip from Micheal Ryder that found the back of the net just 25 seconds later.
But Nashville was also able to answer quickly. Roman Josi took a pass from Weber and hammered it through traffic. The shot found the cage and we had three goals in 1:45.
This is when it all went off.
Three quick goals were followed almost immediately by a Martin Erat tripping minor (his 12th minor of the season, 2nd to Clune in preds PIMs). On the penalty kill Mike Fisher managed to take a double minor for high sticking. With the goalie on the bench, a 6-4 goal came courtesy of Vernon Fiddler, who of course started his NHL career in Nashville. The goal let Erat out of the box, but Fisher still had to sit for four minutes.
Dallas' powerplay tallied another one just before the first half of the double minor expired. Louie Eriksson was the goal scorer and his timing was ideal as 7 seconds remained in the first half of the high sticking penalty.
In the second half of the PK Weber took a vicious, high stick that went uncalled(although he was bending over) and cut him just under the eye. The captain saw blood and briefly went full on psychotic. He had a monster shift, mercilessly crushing two Stars before the whistle went and turning his anger at the reffs.
The team, took the Captain's rage to heart and Yip dropped the gloves with Eric Nystrom. Yip arguably lost the fight, but Nystrom took the extra two minute, unsportsmanlike penalty. On the Nashville Powerplay, a routine shot and save led to a busy scrum in front of the net. After the players worked things out and as they headed to the bench, Fiddler threw a spear Fishers way. Mike took offense to this and dropped the gloves with Fiddler. It was the second fight in 2 minutes, although they didn't count this one as a fight. Fisher and Fiddler each got two and Fiddler got the extra two for the spear.
This lead to a Nashville 5-3 for a 1:20. On the powerplay the Preds were their usual overly patient selves and were very reluctant to shoot. It was Hornqvist who finally let one go from south of the faceoff circle. The shot beat Nilstorp. But after the goal Hornqvist took a stick to the face that led to more blood. That play also went uncalled and only served to further increase tensions between the team.
The Preds PK had 40 minutes of 5-4 that they were unable to convert on. The period concluded with a too many men on the ice penalty for Dallas that overlapped into the third.
If you're lost from all the goal scoring, the third started at 4-3 for Dallas with Nashville on a abridged powerplay. Preds agained failed to convert. Tensions cooled from the second period as both coaches probably preached discipline in the dressing rooms.
Luckily Fisher was able to get only his fourth of the season to tie it up with 12 minutes to go. The veteran took a nice pass from Wilson, split to defenders with ease and more or less walked it around the Dallas goalie. Josi had a second assist on the goal with was his third point of the game. The rest of the period unwinded with neither goalie being too tested, and the Preds found themselves in overtime once again.
At 4-4, and a slow second, it looked like a lengthy OT was in store. But on the first play it was Jarg down the ice for Dallas who had the puck removed from him and broke his stick in the process. On the return 4 v 3, Josi brought it into the zone, tee'd it up on the point and hammered it through a Fisher screen. The puck took a deflection off an unsuspecting defender and ended overtime only 20 seconds in.
Line Up Report
#35 Pekka Rinne
#41 Chris Nilstorp
Predators Scratches: #75 D Hal Gill, #23 W Brian McGrattan (conditioning assignment) and #28 C Paul Gasutad (upper body)
Stars Scratches: #60 W Antoine Roussel, #23 W Tom Wandell, #36 D Philip Larsen
Let's get Physical, Physical: although it took a nasty slash to the captain for the Preds to really get involved, once they were in, they were in. Yip, who I really like, dropped the gloves in the second and sparked the team to a power play goal. Fisher didn't take kindly to Fiddler's extra chip after the play and he stood up for himself immediately. God help Vernon Fiddler any many other Stars if Clune had an unbroken jaw. Clune was froathin' and foamin' to have ago at anyone, but unfortunately his injure wasn't letting him drop the gloves. He did however win some battles and chirp the entire game.
The Preds defense had a very strong physical game as well. Most impressively though, were our top two lines who showed some hustle for once this year. Fisher seemed like he saw his own shadow and was really giving it on the fore and back checks. Hornqvist was also very sparky and Smith looked great too.
Josi-mania: You can tell I don't work for the NHL pun-lines, but nonetheless Josi had an unbelievable performance. He had two goals, one of which was a game winner, and two assists. He was a great powerplay quarterback and moved the puck well to get out of the defensive third.
Josi started the year with Weber but was demoted when Trotz juggled the lines after a couple poor performances. With the Preds back on the right track, Josi is getting another shot on the first line and it's paying off. At this rate, Josi could be a top league defenseman within a year.
Goals and Assists
1-0 Nashville goal by Smith from Clune and Kostitsyn - 13:43
1-1 Dallas goal by Fraser from Eriksson and Jordan Benn - 1:20
2-1 Dallas goal by Smith from Ryder and Eakin - 1:45
2-2 Nashville goal by Josi from Weber and Legwand 3:05
3-2 Dallas goal by Fiddler (pp) from Jamie Benn and Ryder 7:29
4-2 Dallas goal by Eriksson (pp) from Ryder and Robidass 9:21
4-3 Nashville goal by Hornqvist (pp) from Erat and Josi 13:43
4-4 Nashville goal by Fisher from Wilson and Josi (8:22)
5-4 Nashville goal by Josi from Kostitsyn and Weber
My Three Stars of the Game
1. Roman Josi: 2 goals 2 assists
2. Shea Weber: 2 Assists, very captain like play
3. Michael Ryder: 3 Assists