Sunday, February 27, 2011

Predators Win Critical Game Against Columbus 3-2

The Nashville Predators won one of the most critical games of the season against the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 on Sunday afternoon at the Bridgestone Arena. The Predators scored all three of their goals in the third period.

As the clock ticked down and the Preds were hanging on to a 3-2 lead the season could have been hanging in the balance. A loss to Columbus would have moved the Jackets past the Preds in the standings. However, with the win the Predators moved back in to the top eight in the Western Conference which could change with further action tonight.

Barry Trotz said, "It was a war!" That was highly descriptive of two teams that were desperate for a win on the day before the trade deadline when teams have to decide if they are buyers or sellers and whether they are committed to the playoff race all the way to the end.

The Predators scoring came from Shea Weber, Jon Blum, and David Legwand who had the game winner with 1:35 remaining. The Jackets got goals from Matt Calvert and Kris Russell.

Pekka Rinne got the win in net stopping 25 of 27 Columbus shots. Mathieu Garon took the loss allowing three goals on 28 shots.

Rinne was relieved after the game, "It's about time. We've been working hard. It's been a tough go for us for sure. We play almost every second night and we've been losing so it's draining but that's the best thing. You always get a new chance and we responded. Now we can build a little bit of winning streak. It will be a big road trip for us. Big win tonight."

The first period was reminiscent of so many we have seen lately. Chippiness was at a premium as you would expect between two teams that really do not like each other. There were few shots and minimal stoppages as the Predators out shot the Jackets 6-5 while Columbus led the Corsi 21-11.

The middle Period was all Columbus, primarily due to a series of penalties that kept the Preds on their heels. The Predators appeared to catch a break at 12:25 when after one of the longest reviews in league history the officials gave the no-goal sign to Columbus on a shot where the puck appeared to be in the net.

Shea Weber was called for hooking at 13:04 and on the resulting power play Calvert scored his second goal in a week against the Preds at 14:17 to put the Jackets ahead 1-0.

For the second period, Columbus out shot Nashville 12-9 with half of their shots on the man advantage. The Corsi was even more lopsided at 25-13.

The Predators came out in the third period with a determination not seen in about ten days. Weber scored at 1:47 on a shot that almost killed Jan Hejda as the slap shot appeared to bounce of Hejda's face into the Columbus net.

At 7:18, Blum threaded the needle through a pack of players to score his first NHL goal and put the Preds ahead 2-1. "My first goal, especially at home, I couldn't stop smiling," said Blum. "After I scored, the fans - it was so loud and you don't see that kind type of atmosphere in the minors."

Columbus came back to score on Russell's unassisted goal at 12:34 and I'm sure the Predators felt an eerie case of deja vu from some of their recent third period troubles.

The hero of the game turned out to be Legwand who picked up a rebound off of a Martin Erat shot at 18:25 and flipped it into the net to put the Preds back in the lead 3-2.

The win was the Predators sixteenth straight at home against Columbus. Barry Trotz was asked about the streak and gave tribute to the fans in his answer. "The teams are very close and the difference is that much (holding two fingers an inch apart). Maye it's those people out there that give us that edge. It's hard not to play hard in front of our fans. They are always great."

The Predators now head out west for games in Edmonton, Vancouver, Calgary and San Jose and will not play at home again until they face Minnesota on March 10. After this road trip, the Preds play 12 of their last 15 at home.

More Later...

Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

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