Try as they might, the Nashville Predators just can't seem to find a hot goalie these days. After having looked good beating the Atlanta Thrashers on Tuesday, Dan Ellis was rewarded with tonight's start and suffered an absolute meltdown in the third period, giving up four 3rd-period goals and getting pulled in favor of Pekka Rinne with just 5:20 left in the contest. Ultimately, the Preds lost to the Sharks 8-5 in a wild contest.
Nashville tied the franchise record for goals given up in a game (8), which has now been done five times (the last on April 10, 2009, last season's finale, at Minnesota). By giving up six goals in the 3rd, the Preds also blew away the old team record (4) for goals allowed in a single period. They also tied the record for most goals scored by both teams in a road game (13), which has been done twice before (last on November 6, 2008 at Calgary, a 7-6 loss). On the positive side, they did set a new team record for shots in a game on the road with 45, beating the previous record of 44. The eight total goals in the third also set a franchise record for both teams in a single period.
What's most frustrating about this game is that through the first two periods, the Preds dominated San Jose. At that point they led 4-2, and had a shots on goal advantage of 34-11. The young guns led the way, as Patric Hornqvist scored twice, with Colin Wilson and Cody Franson also notching two points each. J.P. Dumont also had his best game in some time, scoring twice in relatively limited action.
Follow after the jump for the recap, and advanced stats. As always, video highlights will be available on the right sidebar...
Those first two periods featured some fine hockey by Nashville; all four lines were getting pressure and the Preds seemed (barely) one step ahead of the conference-leading Sharks. Twice Nashville jumped out to one-goal leads on Hornqvist scores, but each time San Jose answered back quickly. When Dumont and Wilson scored in the latter part of the second period to give Nashville a 4-2 lead, however, it looked like the Preds were on their way to victory (associated coach Brent Peterson even gave an optimistic "20 minutes to victory!" to Pete & Terry before the start of the 3rd).
Things began to turn sour, however, when an apparent Nashville goal was waved off late in the second while they were still up 3-2. Dustin Boyd was heading to the net as the puck came through, and was tied up with San Jose defenseman Kent Huskins. Huskins swept his leg forward, which in the process moved Boyd's leg, and the puck was knocked into the net (by whose skate, it wasn't clear). Either way, it certainly wasn't a kick by Boyd, but that's what the referees ruled and the goal was waved off.
After Dany Heatley opened the scoring in the 3rd period to make it 4-3, it was Manny Malhotra's turn for a video review. He definitely kicked a puck towards the net, and when looking at the video, the only question was whether he tapped it with his stick on the way in (which would make it a valid goal). The review that came back, however, said that it wasn't a kick at all, so the goal stood. To have two critical calls like that go against you on the road against the best team in your conference is brutal way to play a hockey game, but even after that, the game was tied 4-4.
Six minutes later, a Joe Pavelski goal gave San Jose a 5-4 lead, and all looked lost. J.P. Dumont answered shortly thereafter, however, tipping home a shot by Kevin Klein. It was now 5-5, with 6:34 left. Crunch time.
That, unfortunately, is when the roof caved in. Pavelski came down the wing and threw a desperation shot on net after spinning around, a shot which beat Ellis cleanly from a bad angle. Barry Trotz made the call for Pekka Rinne to go in, but there was no "changing the luck" this time. Patrick Marleau extended the Sharks' lead to 7-5 with a wrister that beat Rinne over the shoulder, and San Jose added an empty-netter for the final 8-5 margin.
Is Dan Ellis finished in Nashville?
The last time the Predators were in San Jose, Ellis gave up a last-minute goal to Dan Boyle that cost Nashville the game, and set the stage for Pekka Rinne to get most of the goaltending work over the next several weeks. After tonight's effort, I wouldn't be surprised to see Rinne get the vast majority of starts down the stretch. For Barry Trotz to pull his goalie in the final minutes like that, it speaks to a high degree of frustration at seeing two crucial points in the standings drift away.
Detroit and Calgary both won tonight, drawing them closer to Nashville in the Western Conference standings. The Preds remained in 7th, but only by a tiebreaker over Calgary, and one point ahead of Detroit in 9th place.
After spending this week on the road, the Predators play their next home game Tuesday, March 16 against the Philadelphia Flyers. Be sure to take advantage of our offer on discounted Nashville Predators tickets.
What jumps out in looking at the advanced even-strength stats is that firstly, Colin Wilson led the forwards in EV ice time; it was well-deserved, as he looked great out there. Marcel Goc was also outstanding (7 shots including special teams work), and the defensive duo of Kevin Klein with Francis Bouillon really seemed to work well. Shea Weber had a rough night in his return to the lineup, as he and Ryan Suter finished with the worst numbers on the club tonight (a very, very rare occurrence).
|Individual Totals||Team Totals While Player Is On Ice|
|Player||Pos||EV TOI||Shots||Shts Blkd||Missed Shts||Blocks||SOG For||SOG Ag||SOG +/-||Tot SF||Tot SA||Corsi|
|J P Dumont||R||7:23||2||0||0||0||6||2||4||11||9||2|