The Nashville Predators' six game winning streak was brought to a sudden stop tonight against the surging Florida Panthers, who have now won three in a row. The Preds held a lead in the third period, but let it slip away, with David Booth scoring the game winner with under five minutes to go.
In some ways, it was a role reversal - the Panthers outworked Nashville and beat them to all the loose pucks. When that happens, the Preds lose.
Ten thoughts on tonight's game:
- A bad line change largely lead to Radek Dvorak's first period goal, but Marcel Goc's effort on the backcheck was quite poor. A combination of very little hustle, and a halfhearted attempt at lifting Dvorak's stick led to the puck in the back of the net.
- Colin Wilson got credit for the Predators' first goal, and good on him for being ready to fire the puck. That said, it was almost entirely David Legwand, who took the first shot, picked up the rebound, circled behind the net, and put a pass right on the tape of Wilson's stick. Barry Trotz's decision to give Nick Spaling Legwand's defensive responsibilities and put Legwand in a more offensive position has been a stroke of genius...
- ...which he confirmed on Nashville's 2nd goal, streaking down the right side of the ice and putting a rocket past Scott Clemmensen. Not only was it a sneaky-fast shot, but Legwand caught Clemmensen trying to protect his short side, and went elsewhere with the puck.
- BREAKING: Nashville's power play? It still stinks. A lot.
- There might not be a goalie in the NHL playing better than Pekka Rinne is right now. The only goals he's allowing are coming on horrible mistakes by the players in front of him - Rinne is stopping first shots, and not allowing many, if any, rebounds. It's unfortunate his defensemen let him down tonight.
- Credit should go to the Panthers, who essentially beat the Preds at their own game, by standing Nashville up at the blueline and refusing to give an inch along the boards. As so often happens in Predators' losses, Nashville just failed to hustle, and they don't have the requisite skill to make up for lack of effort.
- However, the Predators, boasting one of the best defenses and goalies in the league over the past few weeks, have no excuse for giving up a 3rd period lead, and then the game winning goal in the final five minutes of the game. A streak such as the past six games can't be undone with just one loss, but it was disconcerting to see Nashville fall apart to one of the weaker teams in the NHL.
- I know Kevin Klein is not as bad as some fans make him out to be. And I know that plus/minus is a deceptive statistic. But when a team gives up 3 goals in a game, and you're the only player on the roster who was on the ice for all of them...well, something went drastically wrong.
- Fresh off a well-deserved contract extension, Jerred Smithson played exactly the type of game that has kept him in the Predators' lineup since 2004 - 4 hits, 2 takeaways, and 62% in the faceoff circle.
- In short, it's not the type of loss the Predators need to dwell on - so you lost a one game road trip on the heels of six wins. It happens. Brush it off your shoulders, because as Crispy would say, the Blackhawks will arrive at Bridgestone Arena on Saturday, and in ill humor.