Sunday, March 20, 2011

Geoffrion wills Preds to comeback win over Sabres in OT, 4-3

As the seconds were ticking away in the third period with the Preds still trailing by two to Buffalo, I thought that the game was all but over. They were playing their second game in less than 24 hours, and I didn't see anything that made me believe that they would be able to pot two goals.

Enter Blake Geoffrion.

The Preds rookie, who had scored the Preds only goal at the time, scored twice in a span of 1:04 in the dying minutes of regulation, giving him his first career hat trick that got the game to overtime, where Martin Erat finished off the unthinkable: a 4-3 overtime win on the road, just hours after recording a big win over Detroit.

Just a couple weeks ago, I had some doubts that Nashville's youth would be enough to get into the playoffs. While their playoffs hopes are still very much alive, the youngsters have pulled their share to ensure that the Preds don't go down without a fight.

1st Period
  • Not surprisingly, Pekka Rinne got a well-deserved day off, as he had been between the pipes for the past twenty consecutive games after last night's win over Detroit. It was interesting to see how Anders Lindback would fare, as he hadn't started a game since the February 3rd loss in Philadelphia.
  • Nashville had given up the first goal in the past three games, and Blake Geoffrion broke that mini-streak at 6:44. Geoffrion started a rush up the ice by forcing a turnover at the Nashville blue line, and scored at the other end as a centering attempt to J.P. Dumont ended up banking off of Paul Gaustad and behind Ryan Miller.
2nd Period
  • The Preds playing terrible in the 2nd period of games this season is far from surprising. That trend continued today, as Buffalo tied the game at 7:04. Paul Gaustad centered a pass from the side of the net that Anders Lindback kicked a few feet in front of him, where Nathan Gerbe wheeled around and wristed a shot by the Preds goaltender.
  • Just 42 seconds later, Buffalo scored again, as Thomas Vanek  found Tim Connolly, who broke in with Jason Pominville on a 2-on-1 and sent a wrist shot screaming over Lindback's glove and into the net.
  • Buffalo extended their lead at 19:00 on the power play. Nashville had cleared the zone, and as Ryan Miller came out to play the puck, his pass ended up going right at Mike Fisher. Instead of possessing the puck, Fisher went to the bench, leading to a rush up the ice for Buffalo, where a Tyler Ennis shot somehow got between Lindback's pads and behind him. A goal Lindback would certainly like to have back, but Fisher made a poor choice by not at least making Buffalo restart their attack.
3rd Period
  • As the period wore on, things were not looking good. Buffalo had all kinds of chances to expand their lead, but give credit to Lindback, who made several key stops to at least give Nashville a shot to get back in the game.
  • Just when all seemed lost, Blake Geoffrion made the game interesting by cutting Buffalo's lead to one at 17:33. In a scrum in the corner off to Miller's left, the puck came over to Andrej Sekera. Geoffrion didn't quit on the play, as he skated over and stole the puck off of Sekera's stick and immediately cut in front of Miller and started jamming away. Somehow the puck got through, and just like that, the Preds had life.
  • While Barry Trotz was busy wondering when he should pull Lindback for the extra attacker, Geoffrion was busy tying the game.1:04 after his second goal of the game, Geoffrion won a faceoff over to Sergei Kostitsyn, who quickly got the puck back to Cody Franson. Franson let loose with a shot, and Geoffrion managed to deflect the puck just enough to get it by Miller, giving him the hat trick.
  • The Preds wasted no time completing the comeback, as they got their second overtime win of the year 27 seconds into the extra frame. Tyler Myers whiffed while trying to control a Ryan Suter dump-in. David Legwand centered a pass in front, which missed everyone and found its way back to Suter. Suter found an unmarked Martin Erat backdoor, and Erat didn't miss. The unthinkable had just happened.
Other Thoughts
  • 3 goals on three shots, against Ryan Miller no less, and went 4-of-6 in the faceoff circle. Not too shabby for a rookie.
  • Geoffrion registered over ten minutes of ice time for the first time in the eleven games he's played in. One would hope that after today, Barry Trotz will play him more.
  • Anders Lindback looked a little shaky in the first two periods, but boy did he step up in the 3rd, turning away all ten Buffalo shots, keeping Nashville alive in the process. Lindback will probably go back to the bench for the rest of the season, but he came up big today, giving Pekka Rinne some much needed rest while coming away with two points.
The Preds return home for a Tuesday night matchup with the pesky Edmonton Oilers. The "Spoilers" throttled Nashville the last time they visited Music City, but don't look for the Preds to allow that to happen again. Points are too precious, and with nine games remaining, every one counts.

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