When the Nashville Predators (9-3-2) ended the first period against the Ottawa Senators (7-5-3) down 3-1, it looked like a repeat performance of Saturday night's game against the St. Louis Blues could happen for the Predators.
Outscoring Ottawa 6-2 over the next 40 minutes, Nashville found themselves back in the win column posting a final score of 7-5 over the Senators.
First period woes? Penalty kill? What's the problem?
Nashville's always been known as a team that prides itself on its defensive capabilities. Regardless of how many players the Predators have on the ice and what the situation is.
Over the last couple of games, though, Nashville's having its fair share of difficulty.
Prior to Tuesday nights game against Ottawa, the Predators had lost three of their previous four games. In the process, they gave up four first period goals after allowing zero in the 10 games to start the season.
Combined with Tuesday nights win, Nashville's now allowed seven goals in the first period over the previous five games. Not only that, but Ottawa's power play markers increased the number of man-advantage goals allowed by the Predators in their last six games to six in their previous 12 times shorthanded. That's an abysmal 50 percent penalty kill rate.
After the first period alone, Nashville had allowed an even-strength, power play and shorthanded goal to trail 3-1.
It's an unfortunate turn of events for a team that had such a strong start to the season with a 7-1-1 record, however there's plenty of time to correct the issues they're having right now.
Hopefully, this is simply an early version of Nashville's late-season woes experienced at the end of last season.
More than likely, it's just a string of bad puck luck. The Predators have an average PDO of 90.3 their three previous losses prior to Tuesday night.
Weber reaches historic plateau
Not often does a player on Nashville's roster reaches an elite NHL milestone with select company. It's only fitting that Shea Weber be that player.
Weber's goal in the second period against the Senators marked his 150th career goal and his 400th career point in only 699 career games. In addition, Weber becomes only the 38th defenseman in NHL history -- third active defenseman alongside Dan Boyle of the New York Rangers and Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins -- to accomplish that amount of goals by a blueliner.
There are more than a fair contingent of folks -- myself included -- that have pondered as to what Nashville could garner for trading the illustrious captain. I've even gone so far as to point out that Weber could potentially be on the decline, which wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing.
Not very many players can boast that they belong in a group of only 38, though. With so many years still ahead of him, I'd venture to take an early stab at saying that Weber's resume continues to look better and better after every season played.
Let's make a couple notes about where Weber stands, in the meantime.
Weber's 150th career goal places him three behind Boyle and 20 behind Chara. Chara sits in 28th place all-time for goals scored by a defenseman in the NHL
At Weber's pace, he's scoring 0.21 goals per game. If he were to reach the 1400 games played plateau, he would be on pace to score 300 goals in his career -- which would be 38 short of Phil Housley's mark of 338 and would place him ahead of Larry Murphy for 6th all-time.
Very rarely has Nashville's fourth line ever truly done something so significant as carrying the play over the course of a full 60-minute game.
Sure, there are abnormalities to that statement -- including Eric Nystrom's four-goal performance against the Calgary Flames -- but for the most part the normal trio that includes both Paul Gaustad and Eric Nystrom, when healthy, have been average at best since arriving to the team.
Gaustad is a face-off specialist that works well in the defensive zone, Nystrom tends to see a heavy amount of shorthanded work and the final winger on that line tends to never really fit in or. Against the Senators, Nashville may have found the three pieces of the puzzle to lead its final line combo in future seasons.
With Nystrom on the injured reserve and Gaustad out for the game against Ottawa, Colton Sissons earned a call-up from the Milwaukee Admirals and found himself paired with Austin Watson and Gabriel Bourque in a makeshift combination with the Predators normal fourth-line stalwarts out of action.
Six points and a combined +12 later, the combination of Sissons, Watson and Bourque drove the play against the Senators and helped Nashville come back from two separate deficits.
Sissons finished the night with a goal and a +4 rating. Not bad for a guy who just helped the Admirals sweep a three-in-three only three nights prior to stepping out on the ice for Nashville.
This isn't to try and stick a fork in either of Gaustad or Nystrom. But if the current option is providing a higher level of play than the previous line combination... it's on Nashville's coaching staff to make the tough decision on what to do next.
Colton Sissons, Nashville Predators -- Sissons was credited with a goal and two assists. After the game, however, that was changed to just a single goal. Even with just a single point, Sissons play up and down the ice was a clear testament to the work he's put in for the Admirals and how intense the desire to play in the NHL can be.
Austin Watson, Nashville Predators -- Watson was credited at the end of the night with a goal and two assists, his first multi-point night in his NHL career.
Gabriel Bourque, Nashville Predators -- It's nice to see Bourque's game benefit from the play of his linemates. Bourque finished the night with a goal and an assist, with his marker developing as a result of hard forechecking and being in the right place at the right time.