Thursday, December 16, 2010

Preds Offense Comes Alive In Dying Minutes, Upend Sharks 3-2

When I heard Patric Hornqvist was a scratch for tonight's game, I cringed. Of all of the games he had to miss this week, tonight was the worst. Still, Hornqvist or no Hornqvist, there was a game to be played. That game was pretty much the definition of a snoozer -- for the first 56 minutes anyway. 44 seconds and two goals later, the Preds had themselves a key regulation win over a conference opponent.

Thoughts
  • The Preds got robbed of a few power play opportunities tonight. Yes, the power play has really been abysmal all season long save for a couple games, and yes, the Preds also got away with a few penalties of their own, but a missed tripping call ultimately led to San Jose's first goal. Just saying.
  • Did Anders Lindback play baseball back in Sweden? He made a couple of nice catches that a centerfielder would make, albiet he'd be a freakishly tall center fielder; heck, he'd be a freakishly tall baseball player, period. There was one instance in the first period when a puck bounced off the end boards and he made an over-the-shoulder grab. Most impressive.
  • What a play by Jordin Tootoo in scoring the first goal. He hustled into San Jose's zone after the puck, made a check, gained possession of the puck, and threw the puck on net from behind the net. With the aid of ex-Pred Scott Nichol, the puck ended up behind Antti Niemi, and the game was tied.
  • JP Dumont's sliding takeout of Logan Couture's shorthanded breakaway at the end of the second period was a thing of beauty, and perhaps the most impressive defensive play I've ever seen live, although that's not saying much, since I've only been to 32 games. I was half expecting a penalty/penalty shot as a result, but none of the refs raised an arm, and Dumont possibly saved the game.
  • All looked lost with under four minutes to go, as Nashville didn't have too many great scoring opportunities, despite a high shot total. SK would have none of that, however. Kostitsyn tipped home a Shea Weber centering feed, and the Bridge came alive, along with the Preds offense. Paul McCann hadn't even finished announcing the goal, when Steve Sullivan, Colin Wilson, and Kevin Klein (?!) suddenly found themselves with a 3-on-1 scoring opportunity. Sullivan decided to pass, Wilson didn't miss, and before the Sharks knew what hit them, Nashville had pulled a Colorado and was suddenly up a goal.
  • The Preds wouldn't end a game without a little drama, even though the previous two minutes were drama filled. Jordin Tootoo was called for a delay of game with 1:52 remaining in regulation, setting up a wild finish. And what a wild finish it was. With their goalie pulled, San Jose threw everything they had at Lindback, and despite a few moments where it looked San Jose would tie the game, Lindback and the rest of the PK held the fort and preserved the win. Despite giving up a power play goal earlier in the game, the PK was clutch in crunch time. With the way we've played in overtime this season, the chances of getting two points had San Jose tied it would've proven very difficult.
  • Random thought: We're in mid-December, and if it weren't for Anaheim's Paul Mara scoring with 1.7 seconds to go in regulation back on November 7th, Lindback would still be without a regulation loss. Not entirely sure if that would've been a mind-blowing statistic for a goalie that's only played in 14 games, but either way, it's still pretty impressive, considering he's a rookie. He's given us a chance to win in every game he's played in, and that's pretty much all you could really ask for.
  • Better night in the faceoff circle, winning just under half of them. The numbers slightly increase with each passing game.
  • Another random thought: what would this team look like with a healthy Lombardi, Legwand, and Rinne? Not very fun from a picking-who-to-play standpoint, but if we're playing this well with those three out (four including Hornqvist tonight), how dangerous could this team potentially be with a fully healthy squad?
All in all, a very impressive come-from-behind, Predators type of win. They won playing essentially mixing and matching 11 forwards (Wade Belak playing 1:25 really doesn't count), and with solid goaltending and a few lucky bounces, the Preds walked away with a crucial two points. Next up, a back-to-back set, starting off with a matchup with former captain Jason Arnott and the New Jersey Devils, followed by a matchup with the suddenly average LA Kings. One wonders if Mark Dekanich will make his NHL debut on Saturday night. We'll wait and see...

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