The Nashville Predators lost their 3rd straight game tonight, falling 2-1 to the Ottawa Senators. It wasn't quite the beatdown of the previous two games, but inconsistencies reign right now in Music City. The power play has fired blanks for years, but the Predators' penalty kill has now allowed goals in five straight outings.
Ten thoughts on tonight's game:
- Nashville was able to sustain some pressure in the first period, particularly from Jerred Smithson's line and the first power play unit, but poor defense from Kevin Klein (!) and Steve Sullivan allowed Peter Regin to find a wide open Alex Kovalev from behind the net, who rifled one past Pekka Rinne. Two mistakes here: 1) by Klein, to get muscled off the puck so easily, and 2) by Sullivan, who apparently just fell asleep.
- I'm thankful the Predators have an above-average penalty kill, because they seemed to enjoy implementing it, but the parade to the penalty box finally came back and bit them in the second, when Nick Foligno put home a rebound immediately after Martin Erat and Kevin Klein generated a solid shorthanded chance.
- Speaking of Erat, he was the beneficiary of a shorthanded breakaway at roughly 8:00 of the 2nd period. Brian Elliott made the save (barely), but Erat lost his edge and went careening into the boards, landing back-first. He didn't return (Steve Sullivan also left the game very late in the third period and went down the runway).
- For a non-conference matchup, tempers flared entirely more than one would expect. Whether it was Patric Hornqvist, Jarkko Ruutu, Jordin Tootoo, or Milan Michalek, the Preds and Senators don't seem to care for each other too much. As Tom Callahan would say, we'll file that one away in "boys will be boys".
- All night, the Preds struggled to break out of the defensive zone. Full marks to Ottawa for a suffocating forecheck, but Nashville has to do a better job of completing D-to-D passes and moving the puck up ice.
- Pekka Rinne's first game since December 1st was much like the ones before it - he didn't let in any soft goals, and consistently kept the Predators in the game. As much as we all appreciate Anders Lindback's efforts of late, Nashville is more capable of winning games with Rinne in the net. He made 28 saves.
- Why Cody Franson is still getting sheltered minutes remains a mystery to me. The awareness he showed to get the snap shot off and to the stick of Marcel Goc in front of the net was impressive, and Franson continues to be the Predators' best power play defenseman.
- Speaking of the power play, something has to be done. Even if Matthew Lombardi and David Legwand were to return tomorrow, I doubt things would change - the Predators need someone who can shoot the puck and finish. Martin Erat, Steve Sullivan, J.P. Dumont, Colin Wilson, Cal O`Reilly, and Sergei Kostitsyn are all playmaking forwards - that's an entire top six corps, and Patric Hornqvist can't shovel home rebounds when no shots are making their way through.
- Props are due to the fans tonight, who constituted Nashville's fifth sellout of the season, which is not something I would've anticipated this early in the year.
- Three straight losses, obviously, aren't very enjoyable. Taking a step back, though, the Predators are 7-3-1 in the month of December, and still in a playoff position. They head now into the Christmas break with a chance to heal their wounds and come back strong against a division rival on Sunday.