Tonight in front of a crowd of 14,954, the Nashville Predators moved a step closer to playoff positioning with a convincing 4-1 win over Phoenix. Thanks to losses by Anaheim, Dallas and Edmonton, Nashville currently sits in the 11th spot with 64 points in the Western Conference, but teams 7-10 are all tied at 65, each with varying numbers of games played. It's a wide-open race, folks.
Let's check out the highlights...
There are so many things to be thankful for tonight:
1) Following up on Tuesday's victory over Chicago with another fine effort. On Valentine's Day, the Preds scored an upset victory over Boston, but then gave those points right back two days later by losing at home to Ottawa. Now you can realistically look at the Detroit game Saturday as a bonus opportunity.
2) A rebound effort from Pekka Rinne. That Chicago win included a couple soft goals given up by Rinne before the comeback started, but tonight he looked sharp in turning aside 25 of 26 shots.
3) A dismal showing by the Coyotes. As well as the Preds played, Phoenix looked downright sloppy at times; the Arnott goal in particular was due to a bad giveaway by Ed Jovonovski. Give full marks to Arnott, though, for putting pressure on the last man back and being in the right place to pick up that puck.
4) Good work on the faceoff dot despite the absence of Radek Bonk. Arnott, David Legwand and Vern Fiddler all won the majority of their draws, giving Nashville a 57/43% advantage on that front.
5) A "shoot first, ask questions later" mentality that saw Nashville rack up 47 shots on goal, led by Martin Erat's 9 (an especially encouraging sign from a guy who usually holds onto the puck too long). Ilja Bryzgalov actually played a pretty fine game for the Coyotes, but he was either getting shelled repeatedly or left all alone too often.
6) Another goal for Steve Sullivan, who appears to be at the point where he can reliably add to the attack without being too much of a defensive liability.
Next up, the Red Wings come to town for a Saturday night showdown at the Sommet Center.