Sunday, January 23, 2011

Preds can't pull away from pesky Oilers, escape with a 3-2 shootout win

First things first, my apologies for not posting over the past several games. I've been trying to get back into the swing of things at school, and I've also been under the weather for the past week. Hopefully my posts will become much more frequent from here on out. On to the recap...

1st Period
  • As the opening faceoff loomed, I had one question: Why was Wade Belak dressing over Matt Halischuk? Was Trotz that worried about Zach Stortini? I just don’t like that the Dumont/Mueller/Halischuk line was broken up.
  • Early on the Oilers were using their overabundance of speed and young talent to get behind Nashville's defense, and that forced Pekka Rinne to make several key stops to keep the game scoreless for the time being.
  • Congratulations to Alex Sulzer on his first NHL goal. After exiting the penalty box, he joined in on the offensive rush and one-timed a Sergei Kostitsyn pass past Devan Dubnyk at 11:53.
  • My questioning of Trotz dressing Belak tonight came to a screeching halt minutes later, as Stortini threw a vicious check on Patric Hornqvist. Stortini was called for a charging penalty, and Belak was not on the ice at the time, but it once again proved why one should never question Barry Trotz, as much as I hated the 71/53/24 line not being on the ice tonight.

2nd Period

  • The killer instinct that the Preds have shown as of late was not evident in the period. They let Edmonton hang around, and that’s never a good idea against anyone, especially a young team with nothing to lose such as Edmonton.

3rd Period

  • Edmonton’s speed finally burned the Preds at 2:03, as Cody Franson had an indecisive moment at his blue line deciding whether to play the puck or the person. Liam Reddox made him pay, skating right around him and finding Andrew Cogliano, who got behind Shane O’Brein and tipped home a pass behind Pekka Rinne.
  • Nice to see the second power play unit produce, as Joel Ward was barely able to redirect an Alex Sulzer shot from the point up and over Dubnyk at 14:05.
  • Once again, the Preds did not show that killer instinct they needed in this game, and Taylor Hall made them pay at 16:13, as he broke in and snapped a wrister over Rinne’s right shoulder. If there's one type of goal that Rinne gives up that makes you cringe, this was it. The first goal that Sidney Crosby scored on him back in October immediately comes to mind. Thankfully, in this case, this would be the last goal that Pekka would give up.

Overtime/Shootout

  • Both teams traded man advantages over the extra session (Nashville's had carried over from the 3rd period), and the tail-end of Edmonton's opportunity provided most of the drama of the sudden death period. Instead of Pekka having to thank the post, he ended up thanking his loose stick for saving his bacon. Shawn Horcoff got a rebound and swept a backhand attempt that got behind Rinne, but Rinne had lost his stick on the initial shot, and lo and behold, the stick ended up right on the goal line and kept it out. A very strange moment, to say the least.
  • Pekka was his normal self in the shootout, shutting down the electric Linus Omark, Sam Gagner, and Taylor Hall in order, while Cody Franson (?!) scored on his first ever shootout attempt. Loved Franson's reaction after his SO attempt, as you usually don't see much reaction out of any of the guys after a score...
Other Thoughts

  • A solid game from Alex Sulzer, getting his first career NHL goal and multi-point game in the process. It can't be easy to be called upon at any given moment to play when you're constantly being scratched, but he's come in and has done what Trotz has asked, and he's actually impressed me from that standpoint. 
  • As I've mentioned a couple times early on, I really hope that the Dumont/Mueller/Halischuk line is back together tomorrow night. Dumont and Mueller were pretty much nonexistent tonight (who wasn't, really?), and hopefully Dumont still has some offense left in him on this road trip, and beyond.

What a wild and wacky game this turned out being. Not what Barry Trotz envisioned, but two points is two points any way you look at it, and the Preds keep churning out the victories on this road trip. Next up, the Calgary Flames tomorrow night, and it shouldn't be a surprise if Anders Lindback gets the nod in goal.

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