Found December 23, 2011 on The Predatorial:

Photo Credit: John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images

Down 4-1 before the end of the first period and already giving up a hat trick, Nashville was in trouble with 40 minutes left to play. However, clawing back from two 3-goal deficits down 4-1 and 5-2, the Predators came back to tie the game with less than 4 minutes remaining in regulation and won it with only 9 seconds to go in the game.

Yet, more importantly, how did Columbus score four goals in the first period? Yeah, you can blame Nashville’s 18th ranked penalty kill, but Columbus is ranked 26th on the powerplay. A blind squirrel can find a nut every once and a while…right? This may have been a huge character win, but something stinks on the Predators special teams…and it’s no longer the previously atrocious powerplay.

After the jump, we’ll showcase the highlights, special team stats, three stars, and we’ll talk a little more about what’s going on.

HIGHLIGHTS:

Special Teams:

Powerplay – 2 for 3, 67%
Penalty Kill – 2 for 6, 33%

Best Play of the Game: Martin Erat collects a cannon-pass from Ryan Suter and connects on a breakaway with 9 seconds left to give the Predators a come-from-behind 6 to 5 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets

Worst Play of the Game: Jon Blum lets Vaclav Prospal skate right around him who finds Jeff Carter right beside the goal who slaps it past Pekka Rinne to tie the game 26 seconds after Nashville made it 1-0 in the first period.

My Three Stars:

#1:  - Martin Erat – 1g, 1a, +2 on the night. Finished the game with his breakaway goal with 9 seconds left

#2: – Shea Weber – 0g, 3a, +2 on the night. The captain made his presence known tonight feeding in the puck towards three goals tonight.

#3: – Jeff Carter – 3g, 0a, -1 on the night. 3 goals in the first period? Wow…that’s all that really needs to be said.

———————————

Count ‘em…1, 2, 3, 4…FOUR powerplay goals given up this evening in Nashville’s 6-5 win against Columbus. For a penalty kill that has been so stingy for nearly a decade, the Predators have flip-flopped their special teams efficiency this season with their powerplay being deadly and their penalty kill having sufficient problems nearing the halfway point of the season.

In the past four games, the Predators have been shorthanded a total of 16 times. 8 of those 16 times have been converted by the opposing special teams. Allowing a powerplay goal every other penalty is not a way to win games. Yes, Nashville is still for the most part finding ways to win these games, but for a once-proud penalty kill, what must Nashville do to get some kind of stable consistency?

Let’s not take anything away from Nashville tonight, as this is one of the biggest character wins I’ve seen from this team in the 10 years I’ve been watching them, however in the long run you have to look at the big picture: Yes the powerplay is good, but what has to be done to get the penalty kill back to where it was?

The Predators were without Kevin Klein again tonight who is still sick with the flu and his presence was greatly missed. Recent call-up Jon Blum who was presumably playing in place of the sickly Klein got burned very badly on the first goal of the game, letting Prospal nearly walk right around him to pass it to an open Jeff Carter. Blum was one of only two Predators players to finish the game with no points AND a negative +/- rating (Craig Smith was the other).

As the season continues for the Nashville Predators, there are pieces of the puzzle that HAVE to be addressed if Nashville wants to really make a deep run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Regardless of what the roster looks like now, Nashville needs a top-6 forward and possibly a veteran defenseman to fill out the roster.

Here is a thought: With Anaheim’s ship sinking very quickly and Jon Blum struggling in Nashville so far this season, would it be thinkable to see a swap between Blum and Bobby Ryan to send the SoCal native back home and a 3-time 30 goal scorer to Nashville? Anything is possible and that would surely be the top-6 forward Nashville needs.

Regardless, Nashville needs some help and they HAVE to get the penalty kill under control or else they’re going to be hurting come April.

Stay tuned to The Predatorial tomorrow morning for the gameday preview of the Stars game!

———————————

Stay frosty, friends.

THE BACKYARD
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