The Nashville Predators pulled into 4th place in the West with their win over the Dallas Stars tonight, thanks in part to the New Jersey Devils' 2-1 victory over Detroit. In addition, the Preds have assured themselves at worst a 5th-place finish, meaning they don't have to worry about a 1st-round playoff matchup with the Pacific Division winner, and the associated travel burden that such a series brings.
Follow after the jump for the video highlights and reaction...
Cue the video (might take 30-45 minutes post-game to work):
Your random observations:
- The first period was a bit of a snoozer, but one thing that really worried me was to see Michael Ryder skate in for a chance on Pekka Rinne, and get a wide open opportunity to stab at the puck afterward, even though David Legwand was right there with him. Not exactly intense defensive hockey being played by Leggy.
- I know how shocked all of you must have been to see SK74 pass up a strong shooting opportunity on a 3-on-1 to pass the puck and have it get deflected away instead.
- The ticky-tack calls we saw (both on Yip and Gill) were certainly frustrating, but you know what? That happens, even in the playoffs, and a team just has to fight through stuff like that. Kudos to the PK group for a job well done. The way you rebalance that sort of thing is to work hard and drive the net, just like Legwand did later to draw a call on Brendan Morrow.
- How about Francis Bouillon getting the Preds on the board? He now has three goals in his last six games.
- Down the stretch, the Predators did a pretty good job of getting the puck deep as often as they could and keep it there, and you have to wonder if that wore down the Stars a bit. That kind of extended pressure led to the Hornqvist goal.
- Alexander Radulov had a lot of good, and a little dash of bad tonight. He really started hot-dogging it on a 3rd period power play, ending up with a turnaround blind backhand pass into the neutral zone which went right to a Stars player who brought the play back the other way.
- The Preds can lock up 4th-place (and home-ice advantage in the 1st round) with an overtime/shootout loss or a win Saturday at Colorado. They have never finished ahead of Detroit in the standings, but now have a chance to make it happen for themselves.
- I'll yield the closing thought here to OTF reader Predator119, in the 3rd period game thread: "I would like to point out that we had a chance to eliminate a team and we shut them out"