Saturday, December 5, 2009

Predators Lose Quietly to Wild 5-3

Barry Trotz Post Game Comments

Jason Arnott and Marty Erat Comment

Coach Todd Richards, Antti Miettinen and Josh Harding

After one of the more inspiring wins of the season on Friday in Chicago, the Nashville Predators returned home and offered token resistance in losing to the Wild 5-3 at the Sommet Center on Saturday night in a game that wasn't near as close as the score might indicate.

Minnesota got goals from five players and Josh Harding was rarely threatened in net as the Wile extended their winning streak to five games while their point streak now stands at seven.

The game got off to an uneven start as both teams appeared cautious not to give up too much early. The Predators initially were not creating much traffic around Wild goalie Josh Harding.

The Predators were the beneficiaries of back to back power plays starting at the 6:04 mark of the first and were able to get their first goal at 9:27 on a slap shot through traffic from behind the left circle by Marty Erat. It was the Predators first power play goal after five games with none dating back to November 25th when their six game man advantage streak ended.

At 18:16, Andrew Ebbett tied the game for Minnesota when he took a knee high flip pass from Marty Havlat and redirected it past Dan Ellis from about three feet in front of the net for the score.

With 11.7 seconds left in the period with heavy traffic in front of the Pred's net the puck slipped away from Dan Ellis after a shot by James Sheppard and trickled over the line to put the Wild ahead 2-1 at the end of the first period.

The second period was plagued by numerous turnovers and uncrisp play primarily by the Predators. Minnesota continued to create chances and lead in shots. Finally, at 11:12 on the power play Marty Havlat fired a shot from the blue line and Ellis did not control the rebound, Former Pred Andrew Burnette shoved it past Ellis to make it a 3-1 game.

Things continued to deteriorate for the Predators. At 17:37, after a poor attempt at a break out by the Preds a turnover led to a fairly easy goal for Antti Miettinen where the Preds offered only token resistance, giving the Wild a 4-1 lead.

A look at the stats through two periods, told the lop-sided story, The Wild were outshooting the Predators by a 28-16 margin and were guarding the puck much more efficiently, leading 10-3 in take-aways and had only had 5 give-aways compared to the Predator's 13. The Wild also were at 57% in the face off circle.

Pekka Rinne entered the game for the Predators to start the third period. At 2:33, Jason Arnott was called for slashing which led to a power play goal by Eric Belanger a minute later. Belanger's goal was unassisted and set up by a poor cross ice clearing pass by David Legwand that gave him an easy shot at the Pred's net to make it 5-1.

One of the few late game bright spots occurred at 9:05 when Jason Arnott skated from behind the Wild net and fired the puck from the red line and it deflected off Goalie Josh Harding for Arnott's 10th goal of the season to bring the Preds within three at 5-2.

With 12 seconds left in the game, Marcel Goc scored his fourth goal of the season that made the score a somewhat respectable 5-3. The margin was not indicative of the difference in the two team's play in the game.

Barry Trotz appeared somewhat frustrated after the game. "There wasn't a lot of detail in our game. We weren't very firm in our own end, which I thought we had been in our last few games."

On pulling Dan Ellis after two periods Trotz explained, "Ellis gave us a tremendous game last night and gave us two good periods today. I call it the 'mercy rule'."

Goalie Dan Ellis was not phased by the loss or being pulled. "I felt I had enough energy to go the whole way," Ellis said. "I felt fine and I still feel fine."

Somewhat surprising was the scratch of Patric Hornqvist in favor of Wade Belak. Coach Trotz simply explained, "Coach's choice."

The mood was completely different in the Wild locker room after their big win. "I feel pretty confident," Coach Todd Richards related. "Coupled with where we're at and we are doing a lot of things right."

After a day off on Sunday, the Predators will return to the practice rink on Monday to prepare for the game with Vancouver on Tuesday night.

More Later...

Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

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