Without James Neal (who is definitely not suffering from the mumps), the Nashville Predators took on the Minnesota Wild tonight in a bizarre, confusing hockey game where goals came off of strange bounces and also from strange Canadian cities. Calle Jarnkrok, Matt Cullen, Craig Smith, Filip Forsberg, Roman Josi, and Mattias Ekholm scored for the Preds, while the Wild got goals from Zach Parise (twice), Marco Scandella, Jason Zucker, and Thomas Vanek. It went to OT after the Wild tied it up late, but the Preds got the win 6-5 on Ekholm's goal from the slot.
Pekka Rinne had a weird night. He made some huge saves as usual, but he wasn't stellar. He also made at least one save on a goal that wasn't a goal, but counted as a goal. On that note, the refs also had a "weird" night.
The Preds out-shot the Wild 44-27, and out-points-ed the Wild 2-1. Considering all the bull-honkey that happened tonight, I'd say that was a fantastic win.
- It was a pretty wild (bwahahaha) beginning tonight... 3 goals in the first 7 minutes. The prettiest goal belonged to Calle Jarnkrok, who deked around Darcy Kuemper after winning the puck on the boards. Though we are down 2-1 and don't have James Neal, I like our chances in a score-a-thon tonight.
- Why do I like our chances? Because these Preds pack a mean counter punch. After giving up the opening goal 70 seconds into the game, we scored THRICE in the first period to take the lead. THRICE.
- Craig Smith won't surpass James Neal for top line minutes when Nealer comes back, but it shouldn't be a shock that he is playing well on that line. He always fore-checks well, he's always feisty on the boards, and he's quick with both his skates and his decision making. Great to see him taking advantage of the opportunity.
- Goalie change: Niklas Backstrom in for Kuemper, who let in a couple cheapies in the 1st
- Mike Ribeiro drilled hard into the boards by Erik Haula (no freaking call... unbelievable) and Ribs heads straight to the locker room. Ughhh. At least it's probably not the mumps? (He came back later in the period and played well the rest of the game)
- Well, here we have it... the dumbest play of the season so far: During the 4 minute Wild power-play on a questionable double minor for hooking, Rinne made a crazy initial save via reverse snow angel, Seth Jones batted away the rebound with his hand, the puck did not go in the net (and there were cameras everywhere that showed it never going in the net) and NHL HQ called it a good goal. Click here for the NHL's explanation of the goal.
- Yet again, despite the odds and apparent momentum shift by the Wild, the Preds answer. Forsberg gets a good bounce off the back wall and drills the puck home to put the Preds up 4-3. Awesome.
- It's getting scrappy in the 3rd. The Ribeiro boarding non-call, the no goal that was called a goal, the questionable penalty calls... all leading to some heated exchanges between players. This is a fun rivalry.
- Roman Josi with a rocket booster shot into the upper corner to beat Backstrom. That puck hit another gear on the way to the net. And it came on the power-play, no less. Wowza!
- Zach Parise is quite good. He can do good things with the puck. 5-4 Preds lead and it's gonna get tense in the last 9 minutes.
- And Thomas Vanek ties it, with the extra attacker. What in the actual crap.
- MATTIAS EKHOLM. Because, in the end, this game isn't about how many goals you can score, but by how many Swedes you have on your roster.
OTF's Super Duper Stars of the Game
- Mattias Ekholm: the game winner! And I think he held the puck for about 90 seconds prior to scoring.
- Craig Smith: 1 goal and 1 assist as substitute for Neal on the top line. Really can't ask for much more than that.
- Olli Jokinen didn't do much tonight, but he did play in his 1,200th career game. He has missed only 19 games since 1999. Just think about that the next time you want to call in sick to work. WWOJD
OTF's Not So Super Duper Stars of the Game
- NHL Head Office, Toronto, ON
- Ryan Suter
- Whoever designed this.
Tweets Of The Game
#Buter (BOO Suter) I tried...— PredsNHLFans (@PredsNHLFans) December 21, 2014
This game is so bananas the fans are going to start throwing Nilla wafers on the ice— Link (@3DLink) December 21, 2014
Welcome to the 2nd intermission where the NHL situation room has awarded the Wild another goal, probably.— Justin Bradford (@justinbbradford) December 21, 2014
Roll the video highlights...