Pekka Rinne, David Legwand and Barry Trotz
The red hot Ottawa Senators came in to Nashville and burned the Nashville Predators by a score of 2-0 on Monday night. The Sens scored two goals in the first period and never looked back in route to Ottawa's fifth straight road victory. They are now 5-1-1 under new head coach Cory Clouston who replaced Craig Hartsburg on Feb. 2.
The game started with a special "Canadian" feel to it as it is one of the few games that have been beamed into Canada from Nashville via TSN. Pierre McGuire was perched in his normal center ice position and added humor to the game when he jumped onto the ice during the first period startling Steve Sullivan, Barry Trotz and others.
Nick Foligno first scored at 5:20 of the first period when Pekka Rinne tried to clear a pass to the blue line and it was intercepted by Mike Fisher who quickly passed to the closing Foligno who wristed it past Rinne. Rinne claimed credit for the miscue, "I didn't get it off of the ice and they had it on a two-on-one, and they put it in the back of the net. That is my mistake. It should not have happened." Rinne clearly was not completely to blame as the Pred defenders were out of position due to a line change leaving one side of the ice wide open.
At the 13:56 in the first, Dany Heatley came from the side at an angle and lifted a shot up that hit Pekka Rinne in the shoulder that then flipped up and over into the net. When asked if he thought he had stopped it Rinne said that he thought he had and really seemed dejected, claiming credit for both Senator goals. Again, Rinne was not the problem as Heatly should never have been allowed to be by himself with the puck in that position. Barry Trotz quickly called a timeout which seemed to help the team regroup somewhat defensively, but the Predators never really got it going offensively.
The two first period goals were all that Ottawa needed on a night when the Predators were unable to generate any offense. The Preds first line of Jason Arnott, J P Dumont and Steve Sullivan only generated 2 shots with Arnie and Sully having one each and J P getting the donut. The Preds second line of Legwand, Erat and Jones had the most scoring chances with eleven shots but could not convert.
Pekka Rinne again was the player of the game for the Predators stopping 22 of 24 Senator shots, many of which were odd man situations because Ottawa spent most of the night skating past the sluggish Predators. Oddly enough, the Predators had more hits (27) than shots (24). Another oddity was that the game was free of fisticuffs which was surprising with two of the games bigger agitators in Jordin Tootoo and Jarkko Ruutu being on the ice on the same shifts for much of the night with no incidents.
Ottawa was clearly the best team on the ice playing with much more hustle and jump than a Predators team that looked somewhat weary and out of sorts. Scheduling may have played a part as this game against a non-contender was nestled in between games with two of the best teams in hockey, Boston and Detroit. That in itself makes the loss a tough one to swallow. The Preds ended the four game home stand 2-2 with both victories coming in overtime shootouts.
Barry Trotz was unhappy with the poor play during the first period saying, "We came out and stood around and watched a team that is playing very well right now and we've done that four of our last five games. We are 1-3 when we have done that and that's not a good recipe."
The loss leaves the Predators in 12th place with 57 points, five out of the last playoff position. After a morning practice on Tuesday they will travel to Detroit for a 6:30 CST match up on Wednesday before returning home Thursday for the first half of a home and away with St. Louis.
As much as last Thursday's come from behind victory was the kind of games that you have to have when making a run for the playoffs, this game was the opposite. This is the kind of game you have to show up for and be ready to play if you have hopes of playing in the post-season. If the Predators are still close at the end, this will be a game that they will point to as being one that they would like to have another shot at. Realistically, with 25 games left, and the race in the west as tight as it is the Predators will now need to win at a three of four clip for the rest of the way if they are to have a good shot at the postseason. That hasn't happened thus far in the season and appears unlikely that it will start now.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass