Nashville lost its second consecutive game at Bridgestone Arena as the New Jersey Devils came back from a 2-goal deficit to beat the Predators 3-2 in a shootout.
Late in the second period, the Predators were set to go on the power play when the Devils got called for too many men on the ice at 18:53 of the middle frame. Leading 2-0 on the strength of first period goals by Colin Wilson and Jerred Smithson, the Predators were unable to stay out of the penalty box and gave New Jersey an opportunity to get back into the game.
Thirty seconds into the power play, Patric Hornqvist got called for high sticking and with 14 seconds remaining in the period, Nashville Captain Shea Weber was called for cross checking.
What was once a man advantage for Nashville turned into a 4-on-3 and then a 5-on-3 for New Jersey.
“If you score there you probably take all the momentum, and we took a penalty. One thing led to another and all of sudden we’re trying to kill off a 4-on-3 and then a 5-on-3. They got one and then you’re on your heels a little bit. From that standpoint I’m very disappointed because we didn’t manage that situation,” Head Coach Barry Trotz said.
Ilya Kovalchuk scored on the 5-on-3 power play at the 1:00 minute mark of the third period. The Devils then tied the game when David Clarkson scored 7:57 into the final frame.
Trotz defended the penalty Weber took that eventually led to the 5-on-3 for New Jersey and said Weber led by example.
“[Elias] kept bumping into our goalie and one thing we want to do is protect our goalie. It was unfortunate it was on a 4-on-4, but I didn’t think our goalie was being protected by the appropriate people on the ice so you have to do it by yourself. Obviously, I wish we didn’t have any penalties, but they were sticking up for each other,” Trotz explained.
Predators forward Jordin Tootoo thought that Nashville’s inability to stay disciplined played a significant role in the defeat.
“The bottom line is that we need to be disciplined as a team,” Tootoo said after the game. “Special teams win and lose games. We can’t take needless penalties like tonight. Those 4-on-3 and 5-on-3 penalty kills are tough to defend. We need to be more aware of our surroundings and more disciplined,” he said.
Nashville is currently averaging 12.5 penalty minutes per game. After the entire 82 game season a year ago, Nashville had the second lowest number of penalty minutes per game at just 8.2. Florida had the lowest amount of penalty minutes at 8.1 minutes on average per game.
Tootoo took a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct when he and Eric Boulton got into it after Brian McGrattan and Cam Janssen were sent to the box for fighting.
The shootout loss marks the 12th time in the last 14 contests between the two clubs that the game was decided by a single goal.
“They play a different style and different system than we do,” Tootoo said about the Devils, adding “It’s all about who makes mistakes in these games. I don’t think it is the Devils in particular that makes these games all decided by one goal.”
Nashville leaves Sunday for a week long swing through Western Canada starting on Monday night when the Predators face off against the Edmonton Oilers.
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