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Power Play: Preds guns silenced against Maple Leafs

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It's hard to fathom how the Predators can rifle so many chances at the net, but be limited to one marker on the scoreboard.

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

It for sure wasn't the offensive splash that fans saw on Tuesday night as the Nashville Predators (9-3-3) were only able to force a single goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs (4-8-4), prior to dropping the decision in the fifth round of the shootout.

SLAP SHOTS

Escaping the first period, both offensively and defensively

In Nashville's first ten games, zero goals were scored by the opposition in the first period. In the next four, the Predators were outscored in the first by a combined score of 7-1.

Including Thursday night's game against Toronto, the Predators have done a solid job in two of their previous three games shutting opponents out in the first period. Total, that's 12 of 15 games that Nashville has failed to allow a first period goal.

What's most interesting about the aforementioned statistics is how Nashville stacks up against the rest of the league in terms of the opening frame. Or, better yet, how the majority of the league looks up at the Predators.

Entering their game against the Maple Leafs, Nashville was third-best in the NHL for first-period goals allowed with seven -- behind only Anaheim and Montreal, who each had six. They had also allowed the fewest high-danger chances (35), total scoring chances (94) and the second fewest shots (124) through 20 minutes.

Of course, aberrations are going to pop up. Nashville allowed three goals to each of Anaheim and Ottawa recently.

While the Predators have been absolutely dominant defensively -- for the most part -- to start a game, they're not necessarily lighting it up on the other side of the ice. Only eight goals have been forced on Nashville's part in 15 games through the first period.

Shots all over the ice...except on the actual shot counter

After the final horn rang, both Nashville and Toronto combined for 45 shots on net -- 22 and 23 respectively.

An average amount of combined shots between the two, however the bigger story was how many shots were either missed or blocked before ever reaching the net.

The Predators saw 20 shots miss the net completely and 24 blocked on the way, while the Maple Leafs saw 9 and 16 shots in the same categories.

That's 114 total shot attempts.

This is pretty much against the norm for a usual Nashville game. Neither team usually experiences anywhere near that number of shot attempts failing to make it to the net during the course of a 60-minute Predators game.

Nashville and Toronto had seven official shots on goal each midway through the second period, at that.

Per a tweet from James Mirtle of The Globe and Mail, Maple Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul made it very clear that he wasn't a fan of Nashville's ice conditions on Thursday night.

That's not to say that the cause of the missed and blocked shots were the result of any possible ice issues inside Bridgestone Arena, however there was more than one occasion where I found myself noting how the puck was bouncing across the ice and players seemingly finding themselves tripped up out of nowhere.

Not to mention during the shootout, where two of Nashville's first three attempts saw an ice issue seemingly nullify their chance.

Predators winning those face-offs

One of the biggest issues this season for Nashville? Winning face-offs. Even after Thursday night against Toronto, the Predators still sat in the bottom handful of teams for face-off winning percentage across the NHL.

Yet, things are getting brighter for Nashville over the past three games.

The Predators won 61 percent of their draws against the St. Louis Blues, 56 percent against the Ottawa Senators and 59 percent against the Maple Leafs.

The latter of the three games coming without the services of face-off specialist Paul Gaustad, who's been sidelined with an upper body injury. His replacement, Colton Sissons, has been performing admirably in his stead -- winning five of seven faceoffs for 71.4 percent.

Interestingly enough, Calle Jarnkrok has been the real workhorse winning 26 of 40 faceoffs -- a whopping 65 percent -- in that same three-game span.

Mike Fisher has done a great job as well winning nearly 56 percent of his draws, but Jarnkrok has been the surprise as of late.

Since he's been with the organization, Jarnkrok's been under the wing of Gaustad learning the best ways to win a face-off from one of the league's best. It may finally be paying off.

Offensively, he hasn't been doing much in terms of helping the team out. If he's being groomed into becoming Nashville's next face-off specialist, then it'll help the organization out ten-fold once Gaustad's contract comes off the books at the end of the season

THREE STARS

Peter Holland, Toronto Maple Leafs -- Well, someone had to score during the shootout. Funny how Holland was the one to do it. Fantastic movement breaking in on Rinne caused the Finnish goaltender to leave Holland just enough room where he tucked it over the pads and ended the game on a sour note for Nashville.

Shea Weber, Nashville Predators -- 700 games, 151 goals, 401 points. Weber has never cared for personal accolades as long as his team is winning, however those are some pretty special statistics.

Tyler Bozak, Toronto Maple Leafs -- Bozak only had two shots on net and lost 10 of his 12 face-offs, however what counted was tying the game at one just three minutes after Nashville took the lead in the third period. Without it, Toronto goes home empty-handed with no points in the Music City.