Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Preds out-muscled by Kings in 4-2 defeat

The Nashville Predators boast one of the youngest, inexperienced rosters in the NHL, and the Los Angeles Kings used both of those characteristics to their advantage, outplaying and out-muscling the Preds en route to a 4-2 final. Despite the loss, Nashville remains only one point behind Calgary for the eighth and final playoff spot with twelve games remaining.

1st Period
  • Same old, same old. Good start for Nashville, but as we've seen on numerous occasions this season, the Preds fail to get the first goal, killing any momentum the good start may have given them.
  • LA broke through first at 11:31, as Dustin Penner gained possession of the puck behind the Nashville net and fed a pass to Anze Kopitar, who beat a seemingly surprised Pekka Rinne. 
  • Nashville evened the score at 17:29, as Jon Blum scored his second career goal after a loose puck caromed back to him and his ensuing bomb beat Jonathan Bernier.
  • Nashville finished the period on a high note, as they dominated the remaining time with great offensive pressure, and two tremendous checks by Shea Weber and Jordin Tootoo ignited the time and crowd as the period ended.
2nd Period
  • LA wasted no time in gaining  back the momentum, as the Preds turned the puck over in LA's zone, and Alec Martinez joined in the ensuing rush from his defensive position and scored off of a feed from Dustin Brown at 2:16.
  • Another turnover, another LA goal. At 12:03, Matt Halischuk turned the puck over at the Preds blue line, resulting in yet again another odd man rush the other way. Anze Kopitar found Wayne Simmonds, whose shot somehow got through Rinne. Definitely a shot that Pekka should have stopped.
3rd Period
  • The period was... well, putting it nicely, boring. Nashville led the shot counter for the period 1-0 through the first 11+ minutes, and LA didn't register their first shot until their was 3:56 remaining in regulation. I think it's safe to say that LA was defending the lead, with little thought of expanding it.
  • Nashville made the game interesting at 12:43, as J.P. Dumont deflected a Cody Franson shot past Bernier. The first was Dumont's first since he registered his hat trick against Phoenix on January 18th, although he's been scratched in numerous games since that point.
  • Dumont didn't register any more ice time after his goal outside of being an extra attacker for two seconds, which boggles my mind. No one else was providing any offense, so what was the harm in seeing if his line could produce another goal?
  • LA iced the game at 18:58, as Dustin Brown possessed the puck just as Rinne got to the bench for the extra attacker, and promptly scored.
  • The entire period outside of Dumont's goal was dominated by LA. Every time the Preds got an offensive rush started, LA would shut that down, dump the puck back into Nashville's zone, and repeated the process. Very frustating to watch.
Other Thoughts
  • The Preds most effective line was broken up tonight, as Joel Ward did not play due to injury. Legwand and Erat were practically non-existent in his absence. Hopefully Ward is back in the lineup wreaking havoc soon.
  • For the second consecutive game, Pekka Rinne did not look like his normal self. On Saturday night, it was failing to corral rebounds. Tonight, he just didn't appear as sharp as he normally is, giving up 3 goals on 17 shots faced. Is fatigue finally settling in? He's started 18 consecutive games since the Detroit game on February 5th, making me wonder if Anders Lindback needs to start one of these remaining twelve games to give Pekka a much-deserved break.
  • Three penalties were assessed during the game. A little strange, if you ask me. 
In the end, LA walked away with two points in a huge regulation win. Nashville now steps out of the conference for a show-down with Vezina-candidate Tim Thomas and the Boston Bruins. If both Thomas and Rinne bring their A-game on Thursday night, it should be a show of epic proportions.

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