(Photo by: John Russel/Getty Images)
A late third period fan fight is exactly what the Preds needed to get some momentum and send the team to overtime with some extra motivation and crowd support. With three to go in the third, fans seemingly spontaneously erupted in excitement for the first time in the dullish affair. A tussle broke out in section 114 between a Predators and Sharks fan that saw both contenders get ejected. This was after Nashville picked up their pace in the third period after a very under-whelming first and a only somewhat under-whelming second. The Predators finished the third with a flurry of good opportunities. The Predators carried that momentum into overtime where, after some early scrambles, an Ellis shot was tipped by Wilson, saved by Niemi, but Wilson found his own rebound and finished it for the winner.
PS hey guys, don't fight each other in the stands. It's super lame. It's a hockey game, nothing to throw a punch over.
The Predators mustard all of three shots in the first period, compared to San Jose's 13. But that was just another day in Nashville, and after the first 20 minutes fans found themselves less than excited to encourage the Predators. Rinne made some decent saves in the frame, but most of San Jose's opportunities were weak. According to John Glennon of the Tennessean, during the first intermission Trotz told the Predators that he "despised everything about the first period".
The second period was better for the home team, where they generated some pretty good scoring opportunities. However any momentum was almost immediately squashed by Martin Erat, who managed to take 8 (!) minutes in penalties. The penalty kill and Rinne both answered the call and killed off the 12 minutes of penalties taken by the Preds.
Jason Demers was also helpful in the kill, as he took a penalty in the middle of the double minor to help in the efforts.
Nashville was able to get pucks to the net during this period. Not necessarily quality shots mind you, but shots nonetheless. They put 11 shots at Niemi, 2 or 3 of which were difficult saves. Quality shot or not, it was a positive to see the team let fo of the puck.
The third period was by far the best period of the game for the Preds. They put Niemi to the test, but unfortunately he answered the call. A weird incident occurred when Weber collided with Hannan on the back check. Weber looked like he rolled his knee, but the captain wasn't phased and finished the game looking like himself.
The game's TSN turning point came with 3:15 left in the third, when a fight broke out in the lower bowl between two over-enthusiastic spectators. Fans went woke up and started a raucous cheering on the combatants, a gesture that was heard, although not understood, by the players on the ice. The period ended with 5 or 6 good chances for Nashville, including one for Marty Erat who could not make a good connection in front of an gaping net.
To be fair, the game had overtime written all over it from the get-go. The puck dropped for the five minute period and the sharks took over. They broke into the zone and put a shot on Rinne that resulted in a good save but a generous rebound. The scramble saw the puck sneak through and almost into the open net, if not for Gabriel Bourque who cleared it off the line in the knick of time. Through center the puck went where Ryan Ellis carried it into the offensive zone. He looked for a pass but with the Preds changing there was but him and a marked Wilson in the area. He had time and was able to get a good shot off. Wilson tipped it into Niemi and got his own rebound to win the game at just over two minutes into overtime.
Line Up Report
#35 Pekka Rinne
#50 Antti Niemi
Predators Scratches: #23 W Brian McGrattan and #75 Hal Gill
Sharks Scratches: M. Pelech, B. Burns (Lower Body), S. Gomez
Predators break franchise record - 175 minutes without a goal
The Predators went 8+ full periods without scoring, as remarked by John Glennon (@GlennonSports). The team has sturggled to generate scoring chances in the last 3 games. Shutout in St-Louis and unable to convert both tonight and against Minnesota, Trotz needs to do something about his offense. A defense first system is one thing, but the fans and the team need something happening up front. There are options available on the trade wire right now, and people will always speculate. But there are also answers within the organization. Not dressing 7 D is a start (mind you Gill was tired tonight and it was not a decision Trotz was strongly in favor of). On the other side of the coin, the Preds did get 6 goals in St. Louis, so I guess we were bound for a dry spell.
Penalty trouble shows off the PK units
Nashville took 12 penalty minutes in the second period, but kept the league's 8th best powerplay off the goal sheet. If there was one positive thing about the team's play tonight it was definitely their PK. They did well winning the battles and getting the puck out of the zone under pressure. They also had a good PK forecheck to hinder the opponents chance at setting up.
Halischuk sees Ice time, plays well
It was the first game for Matt Halischuk since Erat was out with an injury on February 2nd. He has 2 Shots on net and 15 minutes of ice time. He played like a man who had something to prove, and I for one would not be opposed to seeing more of him. Halischuk brought an extra layer of grit and hard work to the team. He didn't necessarily spark any momentum or motivate anyone else, but when times were tough he was still wheeling. He had 2 of the 3 first period shots for the Preds.
Goals and Assists
1-0 NSH Colin Wilson - Ryan Ellis at 2:08 in OT
My Three Stars of the Game
1. Pekka Rinne - 25 saves and a shutout
2. Kevin Klein - 4 Shots on Goal
3. Colin Wilson - Game winner and good game