Fresh off their first win of the season, Nashville was looking to establish some home ice dominance they've been known for the past few seasons. The Toronto Maple Leafs came to town for the first time since 2011, and would be the first Eastern Conference team the Preds would face this year.
The Predators started the game by playing their best hockey of the year. They ran a possession clinic in the Maple Leafs end, and Toronto wouldn't record their first shot until almost 15 minutes into the game. A goal (or two) looked imminent, especially when the Preds kept up the pressure to start the second.
However, Toronto made their living last season by finding ways to win games despite being outshot and out possessed. (We'll call it the Homer Simpson method of hockey.) Combined with the stellar play of Jonathan Bernier, the Leafs capitalized on an opportunity in the 2nd, and Phil Kessel notched his second of the year.
It all went downhill from there. With nine seconds left in the second period, James van Reimsdyk bounced on a puck that Rinne couldn't cover and slammed it home. Nashville tried their best to mount a comeback, but the wheels fell completely off after Mike Fisher was assessed a major and a game for boarding Cody Franson. The Maple Leafs did their thing, 4-0 Predators. Welcome back, shutout. We didn't miss you and still loathe you entirely.
- We mentioned earlier today that Jonathan Bernier was 7-1 all time when playing against the Predators. Make that 8-1. There are just some guys that Hulk out against certain teams. It certainly showed tonight, as Bernier was the best player on the ice for both clubs.
- It's still amazing to see how awesome Seth Jones is. There are still growing pains, but the fledgling blue liner once against led the team in ice time (26:29) and had some incredible keep ins when the team was on the power play.
- Speaking of the power play: while it's certainly good to maintain zone time on the man advantage, it was maddening to see so much passing and hesitating. Opportunities were passed up, and it didn't look like anyone wanted to be the guy to pull the trigger. Finish, finish, finish.
- You never like to see a guy get hurt, especially so when it's a former Predator. Late in the 3rd, Cody Franson ran face first into the curved stanchion at the end of the bench after a shove from Mike Fisher. The play obviously wasn't intentional, it was just one of those freak things. Fish was assessed a major for boarding and a game misconduct, which put the team in a bad spot to kill a penalty with just over six minutes left. Toronto would score on the ensuing power play. Twice.
- I can totally see the argument for bringing the penalty hammer down on a play like that. After all, we've seen what can happen in that area. However, I don't think I neccessarily agree with it.
- A penalty shot called with 25 seconds left in the game? C'mon, ref.
- The Leafs just seem to be a team hellbent on proving advance stats wrong. They weathered the storm in the first half of the game and made the most of their opportunities late. THANKS A LOT, #FANCYSTATS.
Certainly, goal scoring (or lack thereof) is going to be talked about to death the next couple of days. Had the Preds been able to bury just one of their shots in the early stages of the game, the final score may have looked a little different. While it's a new season, shutouts were all too common with this team last year. Here's hoping it's less familiar this year. Get well soon, Viktor. Please don't be a bust, Viktor.
Roll the video highlights...
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