NASHVILLE, TN - APRIL 02: Joel Ward #29 of the Nashville Predators watches the puck pass Brad Stuart #23 of the Detroit Red Wings on April 2, 2011 at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
There are many ways that I could've headlined today's game, because the Predators did a lot of good things - they scored three goals, utilized their power play, and killed of some Detroit man advantages.
There's only one way, however, to categorize a game in which the Preds gave up a 3 goal lead and lost in overtime, and that's by terming it a complete collapse - which it really was.
When it was all said and done, the Nashville Predators fell 4-3 in overtime to the Detroit Red Wings, and while you could say they were fortunate to earn a point, that would be putting far too much lipstick on this pig.
Ten thoughts on this afternoon's game:
- We often poke fun of Predators' head coach Barry Trotz for constantly terming 5-on-3 advantages as "defining moments", but despite that, there's quite a bit of truth there - very often, not scoring on an extended two man advantage will prove disastrous later in the game. So when Ryan Suter scored with 1:00 remaining in the first and Martin Erat immediately after the 2nd started, that particular burden was lifted - the Preds desperately need their power play working as the playoffs roll around.
- There are some things you never notice about hockey until you watch a game live. I've attended many games, but today was the first time I've noticed the absolute imbecility of Justin Abdelkader. Abdelkader, you see, is not your average pest - he sticks to disturbing fecal material behind the run of play and picking on less physical players, such as Martin Erat, whom he viciously boarded in the first period. The fact that Abdelkader scored twice only adds insult to injury, but I suppose there is something to be said for a player who has that much impact on a game.
- From the first drop of the puck, it was clear that Shane O`Brien and Todd Bertuzzi weren't best of friends. They dropped the gloves 4:34 into the game in a fight which saw O'Brien start off poorly, which would prove to be his downfall. That's that, right? Wrong. O'Brien, apparently, wanted retribution, which he went after in the pair's second fight of the night while the Predators were up 3-0. Bertuzzi won, again, and it enabled Detroit to take away all the momentum.
- Pekka Rinne made 37 saves, which obviously was more than enough to keep his team in the game, but he didn't seem to have the switch flipped that allows him to completely dominate. When Dan Cleary scored the game winner in OT, Rinne was very clearly upset, banging his stick against the ice.
- I don't know about you, but I feel like somebody should send a thank you note to the Montreal Canadiens. Making just $550,000 and acquired for essentially nothing, Sergei Kostitsyn's 2nd period goal gave him a career high 20 (which leads the team) and extended his point streak to nine. Entry level contract players excluded, is there anyone in the NHL giving more bang for their buck?
- First period, second period, third period - it doesn't matter - the Nashville Predators can't hold a lead to save their lives. There are a multitude of reasons for this, but hopefully this particular loss will be the lesson learned they desperately need.
- I realize a lot of folks complain about there being so many Detroit fans in the building, and I certainly understand the sentiment, but if they want to keep funneling money into the organization, then by all means go ahead.
- In returning from a sprained left shoulder, Jimmy Howard looked fairly rusty for much of the game, and it was good to see Nashville get so many shots on net (34). To Howard's credit, however, he rebounded with a much stronger performance late, including an absolutely spectacular save on Joel Ward that would've sent fans home with Frosties.
- This was very early in the game, but worth mentioning: the intensity of the tilt was such that even some of Nashville's least physical players, J.P. Dumont and Cody Franson, were pushing Detroit players around and not letting anyone encroach on the personal space of Pekka Rinne. That's the kind of attitude it will take in the playoffs.
- With the win, Detroit clinched a playoff spot and probably eliminated all chance of Nashville winning the division. That isn't to say the Preds should rest on their laurels, however, quite the opposite - the point got them to fifth place, and home ice advantage is still very much in reach.
Atlanta, Columbus, and St. Louis are Nashville's remaining opponents, and winning out should be the goal for the Preds - provided, of course, they can hold a lead.