Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Predators, Ellis Survive 57 Shot Barrage, Win in OT

In what has to receive the award for the most unexpected game result of the year, Dan Ellis stopped 54 San Jose shots, including 18 shots on the power play, to lead the Nashville Predators to a 4-3 overtime victory at the Shark Tank last night. This was the streaking Sharks first loss on home ice this year. The Predators were blanked by the Sharks 4-0 last year and had not won at H P Pavillion since February 2007. Nobody saw this one coming, especially me.

The Predators were under attack from the opening face off finding themselves with a man in the box four times in the first 10 minutes. The Sharks out shot the Preds 21-6 in the first period, 22-12 in the second period, before the Preds held them to a more manageable 12-8 disadvantage in the third. The Preds finally out shot the Sharks in OT 3-2 including the game winner by Villie Koistinen at the 2:28 mark in OT.

The Predator defense continued its irregular and uneven play turning the puck over repeatedly and allowing numerous odd man rushes and other point blank attempts around Ellis’s goal. Ellis was stellar the entire evening with the exception of Derrin Setiguci’s first period goal that I’m sure Ellis would love to have back. Ellis survived a shot by Ryane Clowe with less than two seconds left to carry the game to OT. He also survived a breakaway attempt early overtime to give the Preds a chance to win.

There were several odd plays in the game including a Shark goal that was waved off early in the game. Jason Arnott’s second period goal was the result of an odd bounce off a Patric Hornqvist dump in play. The oddest play had to be the one leading to Vern Fiddler’s early third period goal. where the puck was airborne and dropped in near the Sharks defensive slot allowing the Preds to tie at 2-2. Ryan Suter added the Preds third goal with 6:27 left in the game matching Setiguchi’s second goal of the night earlier in the third.

Koistinen’s game winning overtime goal came off of a faceoff in the Sharks zone and was a hard one time through traffic from the left point. Rich Peverly and Radek Bonk assisted on the play.

Ellis’s performance was one for the record books. The 53 saves bested his personal best 52 save performance against the Red Wings in game five of last year’s cup match. The Predator regular season record dated back to Predators first ever game against Detroit in their first month of the franchise in October 1998 when Mike Dunham stopped 52 Wing zingers.

After the game Barry Trotz gave all the credit to Dan Ellis for the victory. ''We stole this game,'' Trotz said. ''Danny Ellis stole it, bottom line. He's the reason we won. They were letting us hang around. They kept us on life-support, then we got off the table and scored a goal. I am absolutely thrilled we won a game we shouldn't have.''

The victory gives the Predators a chance to go into Southern California this weekend for a chance to get to .500 on the road trip with a couple of wins which would be a huge boost to the Predators after a miserable start to the trip in Vancouver and Calgary and a tough loss at Colorado.

Sharks Commentary: Brian Boucher was interviewed on the noontime NHL radio show today and gave Dan Ellis his due. He acknowledged that the Sharks realized that Ellis was in his zone early on. He also claimed that it was one of those nights where the Predators were getting all the right bounces.

Sour Grapes: The folks voting on the three stars of the game in San Jose must have been a bit bitter after the loss since they only voted Dan Ellis as the games third star behind two Shark players. and ESPN both voted Ellis’s 54 save performance as the league’s first star of the day, even ahead of Jordan Stahl’s third period hat trick on Versus against the Red Wings. Since the Preds play the Sharks at home next Monday I’ll go ahead and name our three stars for that game using similar home town logic.

First Star - Dan Ellis

Second Star - Ville Koistenen

Third Star - Ryan Suter

Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

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