Thursday, January 6, 2011

Preds solve Jonathan Bernier, extend streak to four with 5-2 victory

The last time the Preds faced the LA Kings coming off a game the previous night, the Kings proceeded to rip Nashville to shreds. Tonight's ending was quite the opposite, as Nashville looked anything but fatigued en route to a 5-2 road win.

1st Period

  • Shea Weber played like a man possessed tonight. He was hitting everyone in sight, and the Preds seemed to thrive off of it, although not right away.
  • For the second night in a row, David Legwand (evidently known as "Dave" to the LA play-by-play guy... weird) hit the post on a 2-on-1. Bad luck for him, but it's nice seeing him pull the trigger instead of looking for a pass.
  • Anders Lindback didn't allow a goal in the period, which wasn't the case during his last start, against this very same LA squad. His rebound control was much better. For a guy who's still in his first year in the NHL, he's progressed quite nicely. Now, to fix that high glove side problem...

2nd Period

  • Bad break for the Preds at 2:16. JP Dumont got shaken up in the offensive zone, leading to an odd man rush the other way. Marco Sturm put the puck on net, and the resulting rebound popped right over to Kyle Clifford, who pushed it past Lindback.
  • Coming into tonight, the Preds had killed off somewhere in the neighborhood of sixteen consecutive power plays. They killed one off in the first, but not so in the 2nd, as Jarret Stoll blasted a shot by a stick-less Lindback at 7:57. Lindback was very unhappy after the goal was scored, as he had lost his stick to his left side during play; Ryan Smyth pushed the stick behind the net right before Stoll gained possession of the puck, not allowing Lindback at least a chance to regain possession of it. In the end, it really didn't matter, as that goal would be the last Lindback would give up for the rest of the game.
  • Nashville got that crucial next goal on the power play, as Colin Wilson redirected a Ryan Suter shot (after a nifty between the legs pass from Sergei Kostitsyn) past Jonathan Bernier exactly a minute later. Colin Wilson has come unto his own in the past month, and hopefully his offensive output continues getting better.
  • Last night I predicted that Marek Svatos would get his first goal on this west coast swing, and he proved me right at 10:19, driving to the net and shooting the rebound of a Wilson shot past Bernier. Huge props to Wilson on that play, as he was in trouble in the offensive zone, and instead of panicking, put the puck on net. Svatos got two more minutes of TOI tonight (13:51), an obvious sign he's getting more and more comfortable in Barry Trotz's system.
  • This season LA has had one of the top PK's in the league while at home. Don't tell that to the Preds, as they tallied their second power play marker at 14:28 via a Patric Hornqvist deflection (barely) of a Wilson shot. The assist by Wilson set a career high in points (3), and was Hornqvist's fourth consecutive game with a goal.
  • Cube had been chomping at the bit to drop the gloves with Dustin Brown, and Wayne Simmonds obliged instead, promptly destroying Cube in the process. Should've let Belak take care of that one, Cube. Tell me again why Belak played tonight instead of Linus Klassen?
  • Sometime in the first period Nick Spaling got injured. Trotz said in his post-game presser that he was hoping to have him back Saturday night. That could be next Saturday night, for all we know. Huge loss if Spaling is out for a significant amount of time, as he was a key component in Nashville's 3rd ranked PK unit.

3rd Period

  • The first part of the period was spent with my breath held, but Kostitsyn finally allowed me to exhale by putting the puck on net, which got through the pads of a caught-off-guard Bernier at 9:10. That's 10 goals for SK (granted, two are ENG), but who cares? He could be a twenty-goal scorer, and a very cheap one at that.
  • Hornqvist tallied his second of the night at 15:33, putting home another rebound after Shea Weber had taken the initial shot. Who needs empty net goals when you can take care of it yourself 5-on-5?
  • Outstanding job by the defense not allowing LA to score and possibly let them back in the game. Solid game from Lindback; can't ask for much else from him.

Other Thoughts

  • The Preds definitely did not look like a team who had just played the night before. They were very physical with LA, and didn't seem fatigued at any point in the game as a result of playing back-to-back nights.
  • Has the Jonathan Bernier puzzle been solved? Bernier owned the Preds up until tonight, so one can only hope this wasn't a fluke.
  • Nice to see the Preds get over two goals without having to rely on the empty net.
Next up, the Preds get a night off before heading to the Shark Tank for a matchup with the Sharks, who will be looking for redemption after blowing a third-period lead the last time these two faced off last month.

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