In a game that was viewed as a "trap" by many pundits and fans, the Nashville Predators were able to bag the two points against the Edmonton Oilers through a strong first period and doing just enough for the final 40 minutes to keep their opponents at bay.
All three Nashville goals were of the "pretty" variety, but it could be considered an ugly win. That said, who cares? My hands went up anyway.
Reaction and video highlights reside after the jump, while postgame audio can be found from Martin Erat, David Legwand, Patric Hornqvist, Pekka Rinne, Barry Trotz, Tom Renney, (1, 2), Devan Dubnyk, and Linus Omark.
Ten thoughts on tonight's game:
- As the puck dropped, tension was pretty high around Smashville, for the simple reason that the Predators were coming off perhaps the win of the year to play the worst team in the NHL. The fears were soon alleviated, though, when David Legwand sent a gorgeous slap pass to Joel Ward, who was stationed to the right of Devan Dubnyk. Ward slid the puck across the goal mouth to Martin Erat, and all Marty had to do was slide it into the net; the sequence due in large part to the dish from Legwand...
- ...which might not have been the best pass of the period. Patric Hornqvist made a nice shot on Nashville's 2nd goal of the game, but Sergei Kostitsyn's backhanded drop pass through the Edmonton defense was probably enough to make Montreal brass weep openly.
- There's little doubt that Pekka Rinne, Shea Weber, and Ryan Suter are the MVPs of this particular Nashville Predators' season, but to leave David Legwand out of the discussion would be doing him a great disservice. Since Nashville acquired Mike Fisher, Legwand has 18 points in 17 games. He finished with two points tonight, including a wicked backhand that completely handcuffed Devan Dubnyk.
- Speaking of Mike Fisher, I'm beginning to wonder if he's snakebit. Fisher is playing sterling defense, centering Nashville's top two way line, and getting prime scoring chances - he's just failing to finish them. Fisher was brought in partly for his playoff-style ability, and Nashville needs more than just effort at this point of the season.
- For most of the night, the numbers on the scoreboard were rather comforting. Too many times, however, Nashville got sloppy with their puck management, and allowed the Oilers to regain momentum. If you think that was a bad idea against Edmonton, just wait until it happens against Anaheim or Vancouver.
- It's possible Pete Weber and Terry Crisp were still celebrating their contract extensions, but tonight seemed to be some awkward sailing on the call, including the notion that former Predator Ryan Jones had "a rocket up his keister". Alrighty then.
- Scary moment in the second period when Patric Hornqvist was staggered blocking an Oilers' shot, but it also provided this moment of outside perspective from an Edmonton radio announcer: "Why does Nashville always make the playoffs? Their leading goal scorer just through his body down in front of a Kurtis Foster slap shot."
- I'm not sure just how long Shea Weber has been in playoff mode, but his recent run of play at both ends of the ice is all kinds of impressive. The captain leads by example, and the team is clearly following.
- Tonight was not a particularly busy night for Pekka Rinne, but as is the norm, he did what he had to do to give the Predators a chance to win, including sterling saves on Liam Reddox and Tom Gilbert.
- No, it wasn't an extremely pretty win, and it had more than a few faults, but it was a win - Nashville's fourth consecutive, as a matter of fact. There are some bumps along the way, but the Preds are playing their best hockey at a crucial juncture, though it will all be moot if they don't do the same on Thursday and Saturday against Anaheim and Dallas.