The Nashville Predators won their first 4-on-4 overtime game this season, topping the Boston Bruins by a 4-3 score. One of the wildest games of the season involved an ejection, highlight reel saves, a TV timeout standing ovation, and Shea Weber being Shea Weber (read: cooler than you).
Ten thoughts on tonight's game:
- It's probably best that we get this storyline out of the way early - the ejection of Patric Hornqvist. Late in the first, Hornqvist missed his check on Bruins' rookie Tyler Seguin, causing his elbow to glance off Seguin's head and Hornqvist's helmet to hit Seguin in the ear. "I felt something, and it kind of hit my ear," Seguin said after the game. He was not initially hurt, (UPDATE: apparently, Seguin had seven stitches) and the referees were skating Hornqvist to the box for two minutes, until they saw Seguin was injured. Hornqvist was immediately escorted from the ice. It was a ticky-tack call, to be sure, and one that you could argue was barely worth two minutes, let alone fifteen. "When I looked at it, I didn't really think it was a penalty," head coach Barry Trotz said. I expect to see the hit reviewed, and misconduct rescinded.
- There have been two players that the Predators have desperately needed to break their scoring slumps during the drive to the playoffs - Sergei Kostitsyn (his first goal since 2/19) and Colin Wilson (first since 2/26) Both of them scored goals tonight, and it's imperative that they keep it up if Nashville has any desire whatsoever to go dancing.
- You hate to see an otherwise solid first period marred by an ugly goal against early, but the Preds insisted upon giving one of those up to Tyler Seguin, which was probably one Pekka Rinne should've had. If that goal doesn't go in, it's most likely an entirely different game.
- Was I the only one who laughed when Tuukka Rask let in a knuckleball from Colin Wilson after the Bruins elected to go with him instead of Vezina Trophy shoo-in Tim Thomas? No? Carry on, then.
- On a night when he was facing hardest shot competition and Norris Trophy winner Zdeno Chara, Nashville Predators' captain Shea Weber was simply immense. He outplayed Chara, put 8 shots on net, and sent a rocket past (through?) Tuukaa Rask in overtime for the win. At a time when everyone needed to step up, no one did so quite like the captain. It was his best game of the season, and the goal sent him past Kimmo Timonen for first on the franchise's all time list in scoring by a defenseman. When Rask was asked what he saw on Weber's goal, he responded by saying: "Nothing."
- Also: Shea Weber had a really good game. In case you didn't hear. "Weber has been a real rock back there," said Trotz.
- When the Predators went down 3-2 in the third, the sinking feeling that the game was headed for the loss column approached once again. The fact that the team was able to step up, score the tying goal, and win the game on the power play says a lot for their resiliency. No Patric Hornqvist? No Joel Ward? Tonight, it was no problem.
- During the first period, Pekka Rinne was jumpy, seemed to have trouble tracking the puck, and let in the weak goal to Tyler Seguin. After he robbed Michael Ryder on a shorthanded breakaway, however, Rinne shut it down, finishing the game with 35 saves, many of the highlight-reel variety. "We know how good he is," Shea Weber said. "He might not get the recognition around the league, but we certainly know what he means to us." Tim who?
- The calendar may read March 17th, but tonight felt like April inside Bridgestone Arena. There are few words to describe how engaged and loud the crowd was tonight, and it clearly had an effect on the team's performance. "If you want to talk about inspiring, the crowd was fantastic tonight," Trotz said.
- Saturday brings the Detroit Red Wings into town, but more than that will be two points that are more or less must haves. As satisfying as it was, there can be no dwelling on tonight's win - there's work left to do.
- Bonus bullet: postgame audio comes from Sergei Kostitsyn, Shea Weber, Pekka Rinne, Colin Wilson, Barry Trotz, Tuukka Rask, Tyler Seguin, and Claude Julien.