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Nashville Predators 2, Carolina Hurricanes 1: Ekholm Solves OT Woes

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The Predators fought out their first 3-on-3 OT victory of the year despite an underwhelming performance for much of the game. I'll take it.

James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

The Nashville Predators got the year started off right! They went into Carolina and took a 2-1 OT victory from the Hurricanes. They FINALLY got a 3-on-3 goal as Mattias Ekholm won the game with a laser in extra frame.

Whew, that's a relief.

Pekka Rinne had a solid game in what was an unusually low shot volume game. The Predators didn't wow anyone with their play tonight, but they buckled up and found some energy when it mattered. Ekholm was the man of the match with the game-winner and a nice short-handed shot on goal that Paul Gaustad deflected home to tie the game. Victor Rask scored for the Hurricanes, who took the initial lead in the 1st period.

WELCOME TO OUR LIVES, 2016!

(Sorry for all the ranting below... I was in a mood.)

Random Observations

  • 2016 looks a lot like 2015 so far. Preds with some modest chances early on, but can't capitalize, while the Canes do capitalize one of their chances. Victor Rask follows up a strong move around the defense to put the home team up 1-0. Here we go again.
  • Rant #1: It's not that the Predators don't have a presence in the middle of the ice in the attacking zone... it's that they just aren't all that effective when they get there. They just don't have the skills it takes to be dangerous when they get into the slot area or in front of the goalie, with or without the puck. The forwards on this team would much rather cycle the puck around the boards, fight for space in the outside areas, and look to rip shots off from areas where they are less likely to get knocked off the puck or have their shot deflected. Last year, this worked to some extent, mostly because we saw some inflated shooting percentages from guys like Filip Forsberg, Mike Fisher, and Colin Wilson. The problem is that other teams know this is what we want to do. And the Preds don't have a back-up plan. They don't have a plan B. They go to the well every single game and it's exhausted. How many games have we seen where the opponents' defensive game plan was to push everything to the outside, not allowing the Preds enough time and space to generate quality shots from there? And how many games have we seen this defensive game plan work perfectly? Too many.
  • Wow. Huge short-handed goal for the 2nd time this week and for the 2nd time Mattias Ekholm is involved. Ekholm's shot went softly towards Lack, but Gaustad stuck his stick out to deflect it on net. A bizarre goal for sure: how many times do you see a "traffic in front, deflected shot from the blue-line" short-handed goal? Preds have tied it up, but they still have to fight through some sluggishness to really get the upper hand in this game.
  • Rant #2: the Preds too often make bottom tier goaltenders look good, mostly because of what I mentioned in rant #1. Yes, Eddie Lack has been a bit better recently... but this guy has a .913 career save % and only puts out quality starts a little more than 51% of the time. The Preds are simply giving him easy shots to handle and not crashing the net when he gives up rebounds. Some other guys that have looked like All-Stars against the Preds this year, with their respective career save percentages: Karri Ramo (.905), Chad Johnson (.915), Michal Neuvirth (.914), James Reimer (.915, though he has been fueled by a ridiculous save % this year... he's basically terrible), Martin Jones (.912), Jonas Gustavsson (.901) and veteran back-up Thomas Greiss (.918). These guys are not good goalies, but if you send beach balls at their pads from 60 feet away they will stop a few.
  • When it comes time to submit your Official Norris Trophy Ballot, don't forget to attach this gif. Incredible play from Josi to stop the breakaway without getting a penalty.
  • Another nail-biter here. Tie game late and the Preds defense is starting to pinch up a liiiiitle too much for my liking. Rinne has made some nice saves so far and just robbed Jeff Skinner on the backhand. Whew!
  • Caution: turtles wearing white and gold have been sighted on the ice. Please watch for the turtles. They appear to be harmless. They are either trying to find a head of lettuce or trying to get to OT for the free point.
  • Preds find a way to make it to OT AND THEY SCOOOOOOOOOOOORE!!! THE THREE BLIND MICE FINALLY FOUND THE CHEESE! Mattias Ekholm finally found the back of the net after Forsberg drew some attention and made the pass across. Hooooooraayyyyyy
  • My goodness does it feel good to win.
  • Ice-time watch: Salomaki, Jarnkork, Arvidsson with 11+ minutes. Hodgson and Nystrom with 8-9 minutes. Also Ekholm-Ellis were out there for 42 combined minutes, with Jones-Jackman seeing only 29 combined minutes (Jones saw more time than Jackman via the power-play). Interesting.

OTF's Super Duper Stars of the Game

  • Mattias Ekholm: the game winning goal and the game tying assist. As referenced above, he got a lot of ice-time tonight and he made the most of it. Awesome game.
  • Roman Josi: more incredible skating ability, more ingenious passing, more scoring chances, more defensive magic, more Roman Josi.
  • Pekka Rinne: 27 huge saves. The shots weren't abundant, but they were hard to handle for the most part. The big guy played well.

Tweets of the Night

Boxscore - Game Summary - Event Summary - War-on-Ice - HockeyStats - Natural Stat Trick

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