New Jersey Devils 3, Nashville Predators 2 (shootout): Preds surrender two goal lead; lose in shootout

The Predators talked a lot about getting off to a fast start after Thursday's debacle. They did, but couldn't get it done in the third period, giving up two third period goals and falling in a shootout to the New Jersey Devils 3-2.

"They had a powerplay there, got a powerplay goal, and just kind of went from there. We didn't do anything different in the third period." Ryan Suter said after the game. "When you're down you push, you don't care what happens defensively, you just go for it and that's what they did in the third."

Ilya Kovalchuk scored a five-on-three goal a minute into the third period to start the Devils' resurgence with a wicked wrist shot that Rinne never saw.

"I just heard the puck hit the crossbar and it's in. When you don't see the puck and the guy shoots it that well and finds the hole, it's tough," Rinne said. "He's a good shooter and he tracked the puck on a pull-line and just let it rip and made a nice play. That was a big goal for them."

David Clarkson tied the game with just over twelve minutes left in the third.

But it was not for lack of effort. The Predators put up a valiant performance - something they couldn't say after their 5-2 loss to Phoenix two nights ago. Nashville's power play was clicking and the team was generating chances, but couldn't bury them when it mattered most.

"There's so many more positives probably. You saw a little more of the Predator hockey, especially in the first. I'll take this game over that last game," Trotz said afterwards.

In the first period, the Predators got two goals just 1:31 apart to open up the scoring. 31 seconds after laying an egg on a shootout attempt, Sergei Kostitsyn sent a centering pass in to Colin Wilson, who re-directed it past Johan Hedberg.

"It's huge, you know. It's something I've been focusing on," Wilson said of his offensive resurgence. "I wanted to have a quick start. It's confidence and that's my game."

The second goal was just a case of being in the right place at the right time. Tootoo sent a pass to Smithson, who was perfectly positioned backdoor, for the second goal of the game.

Rinne bailed the team out time and time again as he usually does. The Predators surrendered 41 shots, and Rinne turned away 39 of them. But in the shootout, Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise were simply too good, and Cal O'Reilly and Matt Halischuk couldn't capitalize.

"[You] just try to wait and see what they can do," Rinne said of facing two superstars in a shootout. "This time they just made some nice moves and scored."

Follow after the jump for video highlights and a few more scattered thoughts about the game.

Video Highlights:

 

  • Ilya Kovalchuk played a fantastic game, and essentially carried the team on his back for the third period. "He's a player who if he gets a goal it really excites him," Wilson said of Kovalchuk. "When he scored that goal you could kind of see the puck was just sticking to his stick a little more and he was making better plays." Kovalchuk finished the night with 32:04 TOI, one goal, and seven shots on net.
  • There were a couple of instances where Shea Weber stood up for his teammates and that was good to see. The first one came early in the third period when David Clarkson sent Suter into the boards from behind. Weber threw Clarkson down, and made his presence known. Trotz was proud of Weber for standing up for his teammates. He addressed it after the game saying, "We're stickin' up for each other. That's what you want. I want guys who stand up, and Shea was leading by example."
  • The second penalty was a cross-check at the end of the second period. "I didn't think our goalie was being protected by the appropriate people on the ice, so you have to do it by yourself," Trotz said after the game.
  • Brian McGrattan also dropped the gloves for the first time in a Predators uniform, and it came against a familiar foe in Cam Janssen. "He asked me in the zone there, but the puck was in his feet, so I'm not gonna fight him when the puck's right there," McGrattan said. "I dumped it in, and he ran me and asked me to go. I usually don't turn him down too much. It was a good fight. [He]'s not a big guy, but he can throw with the best of him. I've been fighting with him for about 12 years now."
  • It's a tough way to lose, but with such a young team, you have to expect they'll bounce back. The Predators get Edmonton on Monday and are looking to refocus quickly. Colin Wilson thinks the quick turnaround will actually benefit the team. "I think we're gonna be able to put it behind us pretty easy cause we have a game in two days which is good, you know, you want to have that bitter taste in your mouth after a loss," Wilson said. "We'll definitely dwell on it tonight, but as soon as Monday comes around we'll just be focusing on our game."
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