Thursday, February 17, 2011

Predators Solid in 3-1 Win over Vancouver

The Nashville Predators put together a solid 60 minute, 19 man effort in defeating the NHL Leading Vancouver Canucks 3-1 on Thursday night at the Bridgestone Arena.

All of the scoring in the game took place in a 4:58 second span at the end of the second period. The Predators got goals from Marty Erat, Nick Spaling, and Mike Fisher while Daniel Sedin had the lone tally for the Canucks.

The real story of the game was the Predator defense and Pekka Rinne's stellar play in net. Rinne stopped 35 of 36 Canuck shots, improving his record to 21-14-6, and further making a statement that he should be considered for the Vezina trophy. Roberto Luongo gave up three goals on 26 shots in the loss.

The Preds played a full defensive game with every man on the ice swarming in the defensive zone and clearing almost every loose puck from near the net. The Canucks had very few second chance shots for the evening.

Trotz was pleased with the defensive effort, "We did a good job staying on the puck. There's games sometimes when we drift and we stand. We closed the space a little better, that's something we've been talking about. We gave up a lot of shots last game and we weren't closing on people and today we did a little bit better."

The Predators second ranked penalty kill unit held the Canucks top ranked power play to just one goal in five man-advantage situations. The officiating was very uneven with several Predator players disputing four of the five calls against the Preds.

"We did a pretty good job against a power play that hits almost 30 percent on the road," said Trotz.

Erat scored the first goal for the Preds at 14:13 in the second when he took a pass from David Legwand and shot and then picked up his own rebound and put it past Roberto Luongo to make it 1-0.

At 18:15, the Sedins worked together to give brother Daniel a power play goal to tie the game 1-1. Seven seconds later, after the next face off, Patric Hornqvist skated into the Vancouver zone and took a shot at the net. Nick Spaling picked up the rebound and froze Luongo from about five feet and flipped it over his shoulder for the eventual game winning goal.

"Responding on the first shift after a goal was huge, with Spaling getting the rebound," Trotz explained.

Less than a minute later at 19:11, Alexander Sulzer fired a shot at the Vancouver net and Fisher tipped the puck and was credited with his first goal as a Predator.

The only negative of the evening for the Predators was injuries to Fisher, Marcel Goc, and Steve Sullivan. Fisher was injured early in the contest when he took a puck to the face and had to be stitched up. He was able to return in the second period.

Goc appeared to have a more serious injury when he went down at 4:41 in the second period with what appeared to be a shoulder or wrist injury that was officially described as "upper body". Trotz indicated that he was "doubtful" for Saturday.

Sullivan took a puck to the face at 12:38 in the second and did not return. He was sent to Vanderbilt Hospital to be checked out. Trotz ruled out an eye injury but had no other specifics.

Trotz commented on the lack of manpower, "I think everybody played with everybody and then we were down to 10 forwards for a good portion of the game. It was a potpourri of lines that you saw today."

With the win, the Predators remained in fourth place in the Western Conference with 70 points. The Canucks still lead the conference with 83 points. Late tonight, the Sharks kept pace with the Preds by beating Washington and are in fifth place with the same number of points, having played one extra game.

Trotz sounded like he was ready to see Vancouver in the playoffs, "There were some great battles out there. It would be pretty interesting to see a Fisher-Kesler battle for seven games in the playoffs. They are sort of both cut from the same cloth."

"The battle between Pekka Rinne and Luongo and the battle between Sutes and Weber and the Sedin Twins. There is some really good games within the game that were really interesting tonight."

The Predators return to the ice against third place Phoenix on Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Bridgestone Arena.

More Later...

Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

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