On Thursday night the Predators were just fine without Pekka Rinne. Carter Hutton made 34 saves on 36 shots leading the Predators to victory over the Winnipeg Jets 3-2 in overtime.
Earlier today it was announced that Rinne would miss a minimum of 4 weeks due to an infection in his hip. The Predators have a history of responding well to adversity and tonight was no different. Carter Hutton’s performance was nothing short of stellar and even though the Preds were outshot they generated several scoring chances. All in all their play was much improved from Tuesday. .
Although Pavelec’s performance for Winnipeg was pretty good, it wasn’t enough. The predators struck first in the 1st period with a powerplay goal by Shewa Weber. Winnipeg tied the game late with a goal by Anthony Peluso, the first of his NHL Career. Later in the Second, Patric Hornqvist broke a 1-1 tie with goal off a deflection. Then, with 3:01 in the third, Blake Wheeler tied the game at 2 sending it in to overtime.
All of this set the stage for a guy desperately needing a breakout game. Craig Smith. Smith scored on a slap shot with 17 seconds to go in overtime to seal the victory for the Preds
- Viktor Stalberg was a healthy scratch. Once again, he was replaced with a grinder, Spaling, who produced no points either. Stalberg needs to find his stride, he has no points in 7 games. In his defense, he hasn’t exactly been put in a position to succeed. For the most part he’s been buried on the third or 4th line and averaging a meager 10:00 of ice time per game. Bottom line, he has to produce.
- Barry Trotz. See above. It has become more and more obvious this guy is clueless offensively. Averaging 2 goals per game won’t get it done in the long haul. The team has relied heavily on goaltending and a young unproven defensive core. Now that Rinne is out for four weeks, they need to find a way to score goals on a more consistent basis. It is unfair to ask Hutton to play at the same level as Rinne.
- Matt Cullen. He has turned out to be a huge pickup for the Predators. Last night, he was 14-1 in the faceoff circle.(Yes, you read that right, fourteen and one). It is only a matter of time before he breaks out.
- Carter Hutton. His play was outstanding last night. He stopped 34 of 36 shots and even bailed out the team at times. Although this is great and wonderful, it is tough to count on a rookie to play that well for four consecutive weeks. With this being said, the team needs to step up offensively.
- Game winning goal for Craig Smith. This was much deserved. He has been their best forward for the past 7 games and it hasn’t even been close. Hopefully this is the spark that sets him off. He is loaded with talent, and all in all seems to have it between the ears. Look for him to have a great season.
1-0 NSH: Shea Weber - Legwand and Forsberg at 15:53 in the 1st
1-1 WPG: EN Anthony Peluso - Jokinen and Frolik at 13:49 in the 2nd
2-1 NSH: Patric Hornqvist – Fisher and Jones at 6:04 in the 3rd
2-2 WPG: Blake Wheeler – Bogosian and Ladd at 16:59 in the 3rd
3-2 NSH: Craig Smith – Legwand at 4:43 in OT
NSH: Carter Hutton (W) - 34 saves on 36 shots; 64:43 of TOI
MIN: Ondrej Pavelec(L) - 30 saves on 33 shots; 64:43 of TOI
MY THREE STARS
1. Craig Smith (NSH) GWG
2. Carter Hutton (NSH): W, 34 saves
3. Blake Wheeler (WPG): GTG
LINE UP REPORT
Predators scratches: Stalberg and Clune
Jets scratches: Thorburn