After five endless days off, the Predators returned to our televisions on the road against the Vancouver Canucks. The late-night game had the potential to be worth staying up for or the kind of thing you’d be glad to have missed—as you might remember, the last game against the Canucks didn’t go well. It turned out to be well worth the late hour.
P.K. Subban opened the scoring a minute and a half in with a weird sinking shot that was in the net before anyone knew where it was. The Preds and Canucks would trade power plays, neither team threatening much at all with the man advantage but both getting some shorthanded looks, before a fantastic shorthanded play by Roman Josi, Ryan Johansen, and Viktor Arvidsson increased the Predators’ lead to 2-0.
With less than a minute remaining in the first period, everyone forgot about Thomas Vanek, who seemed to score, only to have it come back. It was Laviolette’s first offside challenge of the season, and it paid off. The Preds left the first period still with the two-goal lead and without taking a delay-of-game penalty for an incorrect offside challenge.
In the second period, P.K. Subban re-opened the scoring three minutes in with an unscreened shot from center ice that would have gone wide if it hadn’t rolled down Anders Nilsson’s arm and into the Canucks’ goal. I can’t even laugh at that; that’s brutal for a goalie.
Nilsson’s teammates responded well, with a hard push back and some great chances for first the top line, then the second. Matt Irwin got out of position and had to take a penalty, and the Canucks finally decided to put some effort into their power play and got themselves on the board with an Alex Burmistrov shot. Henrik Sedin’s assist on this goal was his 800th career assist, making him the second Sedin twin in consecutive games against the Predators to hit a major milestone.
Filip Forsberg restored the Preds’ three-goal lead less than a minute later when the Preds got another power play of their own, on a deflection so weird everyone assumed it was a Subban hat trick. Play picked up at this point and there was some lively end-to-end action to sustain us through the second period, as the clock ticked towards midnight on the east coast. The Preds closed the period with a few more strong chances, but couldn’t widen their lead.
Going into the third, the question wasn’t so much whether the fans could stay awake, it was whether the Predators could. Both teams managed some pressure but it was Craig Smith who put home the first goal of the period with just over eleven minutes left. Right after that, Colton Sissons and Scott Hartnell got another odd-man rush and almost padded the lead further. They didn’t, but the second line did—Kyle Turris didn’t give up on a rebound and Kevin Fiala got it home. That goal seemed to break not just Nilsson but the rest of the team; Forsberg walked the defense to set up Calle Järnkrok for the Preds’ seventh goal moments later.
Jake Virtanen responded to the six-goal deficit by taking Alexei Emelin so hard into the boards that Emelin would need help getting off the rink. The rest of the players on the ice objected, and Subban and Hartnell would end up exiting the game for the night after receiving misconducts. The Preds, down to four defensemen with seven minutes left in the game, got a very brief power play before Roman Josi took a slashing penalty.
The Preds pushed a little for that eighth goal as the final buzzer approached, but didn’t manage to get it. Overall, that was a great effort to hold the lead and push to widen it. If that and healthy bodies are all they took out of the break, it was definitely well-spent.
- What a weird play to open the scoring. I’ll take it, though.
- I’m glad Turris is making himself feel at home in Nashville, but I could do without his joining in on the unnecessary stick foul party. (If you’re just joining us this season, the Preds take a lot of penalties.)
- Nice shorthanded chance by Sissons. If you have to take a penalty, that’s the kind of kill you want.
- Vanek and Turris trade chances. Still awake, EST Preds fans?
- Delay of game is still stupid. Also, the Preds’ power play is still awful.
- Just as I typed that Arvidsson dropped behind the net to make some passes. Truly, we do not deserve Viktor Arvidsson.
- Craig Smith takes a blatant holding penalty in the neutral zone, so I guess we can officially add “discipline” to “the power play” on the list of things the Preds didn’t work on over the break.
- Oh wow, what a pass from Josi. What a pass from Johansen. What a delightful shorthanded goal from Arvidsson.
- That was a shorthanded 2-on-0. I could stand to watch it again to be sure, though.
- Mm, yeah.
- That was a very bad way to end the first period.
- Wonder if Forsberg’s argument with the ref involves the phrase “Game 1” at all?
- Well, if it was, it worked. Preds catch a break and end the first period better the second time through.
- I’m starting to think both teams in this game should just decline power plays.
- Subban just scored on a shot from the red line. Ouch.
- Brock Boeser is doing his part to keep the CST fans conscious.
- Is it just me or does every Preds-Canucks season series end up feeling like Groundhog Day, but with hockey?
- Mattias Ekholm just broke up a four-on-one like it was no big thing at all.
- I guess Forsberg scoring on the power play on the road means we still have to pretend it’s good, and maybe even that it’s improving.
- Vanek wants that goal back.
- Nilsson just threw a puck. I wonder if we see Markstrom for the third period? (Update: nope.)
- Highway robbery from Rinne on Boeser. I was sure that was in.
- In spite of the awful goals he’s allowed, Nilsson has had some excellent luck, too. He’s been out of his net so far and so often that Troy Stecher had to save a goal earlier and a couple other Preds shots have rung iron. He’s also made some good saves.
- Rinne’s not looking great this period either. Doing his part to keep the MST fans awake.
- Forsberg got hauled down at the offensive blueline and still didn’t lose the puck.
- We probably should have seen Markstrom for the third.
- Fiala now has thirteen points in the fifteen games since the Turris trade, and four goals in the last five games. I think that’s #good.
- Four defensemen, this’ll be fun.
- Three defensemen, this’ll be fun.
- Emelin’s back! This is a huge relief. I’ve said some things about the guy’s hockey but I certainly didn’t wish any injury on him, and a head injury with his facial plate was terrifying.
OTF’s Super Duper Stars of the Game
- Craig Smith – Three points and a whole lot of effort. He scored a goal in the third period! That alone could deserve a star.
- Mattias Ekholm – Great shutdown defense, creative offense, all-around good effort.
- Kevin Fiala – He was everywhere.
It was so hard to narrow it down to three. Josi, Subban, and the entire top line deserved stars, as did Turris and Pekka Rinne. I don’t think anyone had what I’d call a bad game.
Tweets of the Night
Was that a shorthanded 2 on 0?— Eric Nystrom (@enystrom23) December 14, 2017
Viktor Arvidsson's SHG is his sixth since the start of last season, which leads the NHL.— Adam Vingan (@AdamVingan) December 14, 2017
Forsberg is going to go ballistic if they don’t overturn this.— Dan D Bradley (@DanDBradley) December 14, 2017
"It seems like P.K. Subban has been off his game of late." - some folks— Justin Bradford (@justinbbradford) December 14, 2017
"Hold my hat." - P.K. Subban
Top Pair Defenceman Calle Jarnkrok— stop calling him fifi (@AngryPredsFan) December 14, 2017
Me: Up 7-1. 3 minutes left. Let’s take it easy. Stay out of trouble.— ShaunCSmithOTF (@ShaunCSmithOTF) December 14, 2017
Also Me: I want TWO Frostys. pic.twitter.com/AMrM5YZhIi