In the final game before the All-Star break, the Nashville Predators allowed two goals in the third period to the Vancouver Canucks, and let their lead disappear in a 2-1 loss. In a way, the Predators deserved the loss, but in others, they did not - the penalty kill was perfect against the league's 2nd best power play, and Pekka Rinne stood on his head for the duration of the game.
You win some, and you lose some. Nashville came out on the wrong end of things tonight, but it wasn't for lack of trying.
Shea Weber scored the Predators' only goal, while Rinne made 33 saves. Further reaction and video highlights after the jump.
Ten thought's on tonight's game:
- Before we get to anything else, Keith Ballard's stick work on Joel Ward in the first period bears mentioning. It was, for all intents and purposes, the same action that got Shane O`Brien suspended for his stick on Stephen Weiss. With Ward laying on the ice and the action elsewhere, Ballard clearly stabbed Ward in the face twice. Dirty and unnecessary, you'd expect Ballard to have a hearing with the NHL tomorrow. On the other hand, that would mean the NHL was consistent. And that might be asking too much.
- The Predators' power play is putrid, and it lost them the game.
- When playing a team as offensively capable as Vancouver, taking repeated trips to the penalty box is not the greatest idea. Thankfully, it didn't come back to bite the Predators (they killed them all off), but it's something that will need corralling in the future.
- As much as Nashville's effort on the man advantage lost them the game, Pekka Rinne kept them in it. He was left out to dry on both goals, and stopped almost everything he could see and some pucks he couldn't. When all else goes wrong for the Predators, they still have Rinne, and that's of some comfort as the midway point of the season passes.
- Third period notwithstanding, Nashville clearly came to play tonight, and if it weren't for a lack of finish, probably would've earned the two points. The effort was there, and the defensive play as well, but two mistakes led to goals, and washed out almost all the positives that could've been taken away from this one.
- If the Predators ever get relatively healthy, Barry Trotz is going to have a tough decision on his hands - whether or not to demote Chris Mueller. Mueller, though he hasn't lit up the scoreboard, does all the little things correctly, and looks right at home on an NHL roster.
- It was the first game against their former teams for Shane O`Brien and Dan Hamhuis, in case you hadn't heard. Hamhuis, as I expected, reminded me why the Predators didn't want to keep him, making bad decisions with the puck and a few costly turnovers. O'Brien, on the other hand, had a standout game, finishing his checks well and staying out of the penalty box.
- After all the discussion over the past few days surrounding the circus that is Shea Weber back in British Columbia, it was appropriate that he scored Nashville's lone goal on a well placed shot. It was unfortunate it wasn't the game winner, however...
- ...because later in the period, Joel Ward failed to make the simple play and get the puck out of the zone. Daniel Sedin stripped him of it, and fed the puck to a wide open Lee Sweatt (who deserves congratulations on both his first NHL game and goal).
- A disappointing loss, to be sure, but one in which Nashville acquitted themselves fairly well. As they enter the All Star break, the Predators are just six points off the division lead, firmly entrenched in a playoff position, and of their final 32 games, 22 will be played inside Bridgestone Arena. I don't know about you, but considering the litany of injuries, I'll take it.
For advanced even-strength statistics, you can check out this game's data via TimeOnIce.com.