In a bit of a letdown from the last six games, the Nashville Predators fell to the Vancouver Canucks 3-1, giving up two goals to Alex Burrows and two in the third period after taking a lead into the frame behind Mike Fisher's second period marker.
It was a playoff style atmosphere, despite the attendance (15,960) that was perhaps affected by the US men's national soccer match against Paraguay across the river, but Nashville couldn't take advantage of pretty much anything on the night.
"We've got to learn from it," center Mike Fisher said. "It's a little bit frustrating to lose that way when we were close to getting one point."
Mike Fisher scored for Nashville (his 3rd in 2 games), while Pekka Rinne made 30 saves in the loss.
Ten thoughts on tonight's game:
- As one might expect, tonight's game was incredibly intense from the first drop of the puck, with even Sergei Kostitsyn willing to throw the odd check or two. The highlight, though? Jordin Tootoo putting a Canuck into the glass so hard that the red light which usually indicates a TV timeout was triggered.
- I can't think of any more superlatives for Pekka Rinne. Just wow. He deserved a better effort out of the offense in front of him tonight.
- Before the game, there was some talk of the Canucks perhaps taking advantage of a Nashville penalty kill that had been regressing pretty significantly. That would prove not to be the case, as the Predators received strong efforts from their kill, particularly in the cases of Joel Ward and David Legwand.
- For much of his Nashville tenure, Mike Fisher had been nursing an upper body injury. With three goals in his last two games, though, it's pretty clear that Fisher is on the mend, and that was evidenced by a deceptively good shot on his 2nd period goal tonight. Jonathon Blum used a quick release to get the puck on net, and Fisher rifled the rebound into the top left corner for a 1-0 lead. "He [Kostitsyn] got the puck to the net and just the rebound came out to me," Fisher said. "I just put it into the net."
- Jonathon Blum has been largely a revelation in his short NHL career, but he's picked up an alarming habit of taking penalties at inopportune moments, and put Nashville shorthanded tonight. It didn't cost them, but make no mistake - it will in the future.
- While the intensity was there for Nashville for much of the night, the execution, simply, was not - 17 shots on goal is a horrendous effort, and there's no way for me to put lipstick on a pig here. "We just didn't have enough of that 'bite' in our game, that determination, that urgency," head coach Barry Trotz said.
- Nashville's fourth line consisted once again of J.P. Dumont, Blake Geoffrion, and Colin Wilson, who played 6:29, 7:11, and 7:25. If the Predators qualify for the playoffs, the lack of a trusted fourth line is very likely to cause problems - teams like Detroit and Vancouver roll four solid units, whereas Nashville, right now, does not.
- It seemed as if Shea Weber had a subpar game, failing to register a shot on goal, finishing -3, and looking a tad shaky on the puck throughout the game. It was very much not the norm from the captain, and I wouldn't expect another similar effort anytime soon.
- Tonight's most unexpected moment for me was probably when Pekka Rinne was pulled for the extra attacker, and Blake Geoffrion stepped onto the ice. A subtle tip of the cap from the coaching staff to a player who was worked extremely hard since his call-up.
- In some ways, you can't be too upset with a loss to the NHL's best team on the heels of a 6 game winning streak, but the way this one went down left a bad taste in one's mouth. Loss? Somewhat excusable, under the circumstances. Failure to try in the third period? Inexcusable. "It's tough," Shea Weber said. "Those were some big points, but there's nothing we can do now."
- Bonus bullet: Alex Burrows? Still a moron, and there might not be another player in the NHL who makes more money off his linemates.
Elsewhere, Tim Thomas shut out the Chicago Blackhawks, keeping the Hawks from gaining on the Predators in the standings. Nashville now heads to Colorado for a tilt with the Avalanche, and while the Avs are significantly worse than Vancouver, a complete turnaround from tonight's execution will be necessary to gain two points which Nashville has no excuse not to take.