Saturday, March 12, 2011

Preds Win 4-2, Avs Continue to Be Snowed Under

The Nashville Predators battled a young Colorado Avalanche team that played like they had nothing to lose and came away with a 4-2 win that pulled them within a point of eight place and the final playoff position.

Nashville did not have their best outing managed to win a game where they entered the contest as clear favorites. Colorado has now lost 18 of their last 19 games. Pekka Rinne also did not have his best night in goal but improved his save percentage and his Vezina chances by stopping 36 of 38 Colorado shots.

Rinne was pleased with the second consecutive win at home, "It's huge. I think we responded pretty well and we are looking forward to to playing here for the next few games. It's going to be a good challenge, and right now I think things are going well for us. We just have to build momentum from now on."

Nashville got goals from Shea Weber, Matt Halischuk, Joel Ward, and Marty Erat while Colorado's scoring came from Ryan O'Reilly and Daniel Winnik.

The Predators played a strong opening period, putting plenty of pressure on Budaj. At 4:16, Weber picked up the final rebound in a volley of three shots (two from Erat and one from Ward) and put it in the net to give the Preds an early 1-0 lead.In similar fashion, Halischuk, picked up a rebound off of a Kevin Klein shot at 11:36 to make it 2-0 Preds.

The Avalanche ended up out shooting the Predators 13-12 and leading the Corsi 24-20 in the first period. Surprisingly, Colorado out hit the Preds 13-4 as they tried to make it a physical match.

Colorado continued their enthusiastic play and got on the board at 4:15 in the second on a wrister from O'Reilly from in front of the net to make it 2-1.

The Predators then faced back to back penalties by Jon Blum and Ward that produced 43 seconds of five on there advantage for the Avs. At 11:53, during five on four play, the Avalanche appeared to have scored the game tying goal but it was waived off as it had been played with a high stick that was above Rinne's head.

Trotz was pleased with the penalty kill, "That was a big turning point. Any time you kill a five on three, it gives us a little momentum."

In a play that was a defining moment in the game, at 13:31, Ward scored in a move that had "goal of the week" written all over it. He broke his stick behind the net and raced to the bench to pick up a new one. As he returned, he intercepted the puck, made a deek move on Budaj that left him sprawling on the ice, and then skated past him and made a nifty curl move to slip it into the unattended net for an unassisted goal to give the Preds a 3-1 lead.

Colorado came back and scored on a goal by Winnik at 19:30 where Colin Wilson could have been credited with a pair of assists. Wilson lost the puck as he tried to clear the zone then skated to the net and Winnik's shot caromed off his shin guard and deflected straight past Rinne to make it a 3-2 contest.

Trotz called out Wilson on the play without mentioning him by name. "We made a real soft play on the wall. Our winger was not committed to getting sandpaper against the wall and ended up battling and it was really light and turned it over and then it went to the point and they shot and it went off the winger and into the net."

As the clock wore down, with 18 seconds left, Jordin Tootoo and Ryan Wilson squared off in one of the more spirited fights that the Bridgestone crowd has seen in Nashville this season.

Tootoo was pleased with his effort. "Emotions run high, and it's a spur of the moment type of deal. It brings a lot of energy and I think the boys really like it."

Trotz denied sending Tootoo out but stated, "I didn't send him out or anything like that. I just said, if he's out there and you want to go, go. Instead of chatting at each other, you guys can settle it as men."

In the middle stanza Colorado poured on the shots, outshooting the Preds 16-8 and leading the Corsi 26-10. There was no scoring in the final period until Erat scored the empty netter with two seconds left. The Predators did out shoot the Avs in the third period 9-8 and led the Corsi 17-16.

After taking Sunday off, the Predators will return to the ice on Monday to prepare for Tuesday night's key match with the Los Angeles Kings as the five game home stand continues.

More Later...

Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

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