Well color me shocked. A comeback win to keep the playoff dream alive. The Preds found themselves down 3-1 after the 2nd period. My what a 4 goal 3rd period can do for a team. The Preds stormed back to 5-3 win over the Central rival Chicago Blackhawks.
Felder’s FANTASTIC Five:
1. 5 GOALS! Actual Free Treats! - The 15,075 at the Sommet Center saw a great comeback, and got to enjoy a free frosted treat. Not too many occasions where they have been able to take advantage of that promotion lately. It was certainly needed tonight and a welcomed but unexpected surprise.
2. GOAL from the MAN ADVANTAGE? Surely You Jest... - Yet it was all real. 2 goals on the power play (I'll use the term for tonight but go back to my normal ways next game) in the 3rd period. The Dumont PP tally ties the game, and then the Weber tally puts this bad boy away. The 3rd period PP unit was much different than the 1st two periods. I sure am glad they got their act together for a 20 minute stretch to win this game.
3. Big Boys Came Out to Play - Everyone has preached about the top guys needing to score to win games. They did tonight. Goals from Legwand, Arnott, and Dumont. Erat with 3 assists. Shea Weber continued to find his scoring touch as well with a scorcher on the PP. This was proof that all of those people preaching about the top lines needing to score to get 2 points were right.
4. Down Two Goals? No Biggie - This was a comeback that could, and I stress could, spark something in the team and create a run. Good character wins like these help guys believe in each other. Maybe the team was listening last night to Hockeybuzz Radio when Paul and I discussed a lack of chemistry. They looked like last year's team this evening with that comeback. Let the chemistry and wins flow boys.
5. A Return of the Famous Nashville TV Timeout - Well, just in time for the stretch run the crowd returns to motivating and energizing the team. The TV Timeout returned in the 3rd period, and the Predator players took notice. Almost everyone of them mentioned the outstanding boost the crowd gave them in this game. Barry Trotz made sure to mention it as well. So, I give you guys, the crowd that cheers the team on, a pat on the back for letting them know you are out there supporting them.
* At this time of the year it is always fun to watch who are the watchmen in the media section. I'm referring to the scouts while also trying to express my excitement for the movie that will come out just after the Trade Deadline. Tonight there was just one scout in attendance. Philly made yet another appearance....
* Tonight’s scratches were Ryan Jones and Radek Bonk. This is a possible indication that Ville Koistinen will indeed play on the wing, as suggested in John Glennon's blog earlier in the day. Personally, if Trotz really did scratch Jones to play VK over him at the wing, well quite frankly I think he is grasping at his last straws.
* 1ST PERIOD
* 17:18 to go. Ville Koistinen gets a shot on goal at forward. I honestly don't know what to say. How Trotz can believe that VK could bring a better game at forward than Ryan Jones in this contest is beyond me. I really can't believe he did it to be honest.
* END OF THE 1ST PERIOD – NSH: 0 CHI: 0. Positives - Preds lead the shots 9 to 7. Winning the faceoff war with a 59%. Negatives - Another scoreless period. Arnott and Dumont both missed great scoring chances.
* 2ND PERIOD
* GOAL for CHICAGO - 13:55 to go. The VK line gets scored on. A Brian Campbell blast from the point is blistered by Rinne high glove side. Traffic in front forced Peks to drift to his right slightly as Campbell fired off his slapper before VK could get to the point in time. Later on the NHL officials spot a tip in by Dustin BfyCampbell from Kris Versteeg and Dustin Byfuglien. Chicago takes a 1-0 lead almost halfway through the 2nd period.
* GOAL for CHICAGO - 11:03 to go. Havlat the Pred killer strikes again. A scramble in front causes the puck to slide out of the crease to Havlat driving the right slot. He lets off a quick backhander that beats Pekka just above the leg pad on his glove side. Dave Bolland was driving the net which caused the scramble when he lost the puck off his stick. Havlat from Bolland and Campbell. Hawks take the 2-0 lead.
* GOAL for NASHVILLE - 5:49 to go. Steve Sullivan is sprung into the zone for a breakaway from a nice center ice feed by Jason Arnott. Sully tries to go five hole on Huet, but is stopped. The rebound slowly trickles away from the crease and Arnott swiftly backhands the puck, beating Huet high glove side. Huet was a touch out of position due to making the save on Sullivan so no fault there for him because the Preds captain just placed it perfectly. Arnott from Sullivan and Dumont. Preds cut the lead in half to a 2-1 Hawks lead.
* GOAL for CHICAGO - 4:43 to go. Patrick Kane with a tally that was not what you would expect to see Rinne give up. Kane was at the side of the net near the corner when he let of his wrister that bounced in off Peks pads stick side. Weak goal given up there. Some in the stands thought the play should have been whistled dead once Kane got the puck. They were looking for a penalty when Cam Barker hit Jordin Tootoo. It was a retaliatory hit because Toots lit him up along the boards, and I felt the non call was the right one. Barker simply hit him back and that was fair game to me. That said, Kane from Troy Brouwer. Hawks have the 3-1 lead.
* END OF THE 2ND PERIOD – NSH: 1 CHI: 3. Positives - The Preds will not have a goose egg tonight. Preds lead the faceoffs with a 55%. Negatives - Gave up 3 goals. Our "power play" has just 1 shot on goal with 4:50 of man advantage time. Preds would have to score 3 more goals to win...
* 3RD PERIOD
* 18:18 to go and the Hawks use their timeout. Presumably used because of an icing call but they did just return from intermission so who really knows.
* GOAL for NASHVILLE. 17:50 to go. The puck takes a fortunate bounce off the corner boards and finds David Legwand streaking into the zone hard. Leggy lets off a quick backhander that beats Huet on the glove side. Pretty nifty (aka lucky) goal with that home bounce off the boards. Legwand from Martin Erat and Dan Hamhuis. Preds cut a little more into this lead with the Hawks lead now just 3-2.
* POWER PLAY GOAL for NASHVILLE - 14:49 to go. J.P. Dumont rips a slap shot past Huet on the glove side. Way to shoot the puck J.P.! He simply teed it up at the top of the circle to Huet's left and burned it past just above the leg pad and below the glove. Dumont from Ryan Suter and Arnott. This game is shockingly tied at 3.
* GOAL for NASHVILLE - 5:03 to go. Hard work pays off and Joel Ward pushes in a rebound goal in the crease. Huet thought he had the puck for a save, but Ward took the puck from Huet's stick side to glove and buried as Huet tried to cover the puck. Ward from Legwand and Erat. Preds have themselves a 4-3 lead.
* 4:33 to go and the Famous TV Timeout in Nashville returns. The fans rise as one and cheer throughout the entire TV timeout. Just in time for playoff push I guess. Always an intense and awesome moment when the fans at the Sommet Center do this.
* POWER PLAY GOAL for NASHVILLE - 2:50 to go. Dan Hamhuis gets his shot from the point blocked. Erat corrals the rebound, fakes a slap shot, and then feeds Weber on the back side of the play. Weber lets off the cannon for a PP goal that should put the Hawks away. Weber from Erat and Hamhuis. Preds have a 5-3 lead.
* 2:15 to go and Cristobal Huet heads to the bench for the extra attacker.
* FINAL SCORE – NSH - 5 CHI - 3.
My Three Stars:
1. David Legwand - 1 goal, 1 assist, a +2 rating, 3 shots on goal, 1 takeaway, 1 blocked shot, and he won 59% of his faceoffs.
2. J.P. Dumont - 1 goal, 1 assist, and 4 shots on goal.
3. Jason Arnott - 1 goal, 1 assist, 3 shots on goal, 1 hit, 1 takeaway, and won 48% of his faceoffs.
Goalie Grade:B- – The starting goaltender tonight was Pekka Rinne. Peks admitted without even asking that the 3rd and final goal against was a soft goal. Take away that 2nd period and the man was outstanding again. BUT, the 2nd period remains so he earns the B- with 29 saves on 32 Chicago shots on goal. Also, I should add that he made 3 shorthanded saves as well.
Brandon Felder - "Peks, after that 3rd goal did you kind of think maybe this is not my night?"
Pekka Rinne - "Uh, not really. I felt really good during the whole game. I felt the 1st period I made some good saves. Obviously not the strongest 2nd period for me. Soft 3rd goal. But those goals sometimes just happen. It hit the side of my pad and went in. After Leggy's goal in the 3rd period I knew we could come back. I had a couple of good saves at the end there and I really didn't get very bothered by those 3 goals. You kind of know that sometimes that is going to happen and it's not going to be every night that you let in just 1 or 2 goals. I'm just really happy I didn't let in any goals in the 3rd period."
Felder - "Do you think these are the kind of character wins that can really spark a strong run."
Rinne - "YEAH. We haven't had too many games like this. A couple of times we've come back but not like this where we score 4 goals, which is huge. We've been struggling to score goals and our guys that should be scoring are feeling pretty good after this game. This builds up our confidence level. You know it's a little different than when you win a game one to nothing. You are going to know that you really battled hard and played a defensive game. Tonight I think we had to open up up a little bit and take some risks."
Felder - "When choosing tonight's roster, what made you decide that Koistinen would be better at the wing than Jones?"
Barry Trotz - "When used Koisty in practice on the wing and we just felt that they are such a quick team that Koisty might be someone we want to see on the wing. Maybe he could create something off the rush transitionally and give him a little power play time. We had a couple of power plays that were almost two minutes but you would have saw him on the power play with Weber and the Legwand unit."
Felder - "When you look at the 3rd period success of the power play, is that a prototype for the rest of the season or did it just work tonight?"
Trotz - "Well we want it to be the prototype all the time. One of the basic fundamentals of a power play is quick puck movement, quick support, traffic, and shots. I mean, you look at Detroit in the last decade and that's what they've done. Top power plays in the league do that. It's all about execution, shooting the puck, and getting traffic with a hunger in front of the net. Tonight we did that well and we got rewarded with a couple of power play goals. That was huge, the power play stepped up big."
Games like this one can create a renewed hope and spirit for a season. It's such a high when you leave to think of what the team is capable of with efforts like that every game. Enjoy the high folks and hope that the play carries over throughout the week.
The Predators next game is this Thursday night vs Phoenix. Considering the struggles and position in the standings, the Preds must beat the Coyotes to further their quest back into the Western Conference playoff picture. I stated on HB Radio last night that the game is a must win and I stand by that. You must put teams that are struggling and behind you in the standings away when you play them. Game time is set for 7 pm CST. Look for my Around the NHL Tonight column that afternoon.
Till then, take care everyone.
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