Though they were nearly three minutes from a disheartening loss, the Nashville Predators came from behind to claim a gutsy 3-2 victory over Arizona in a shootout.
In doing so, the Preds reclaimed the Central Division lead with Winnipeg on its bye week.
The first period brought little to nothing in the way of highlights. In fact, it was comparable to a lot of Tuesday night games against Calgary.
The best chance came with about seven minutes left in the period when Ryan Ellis’ slap pass found Calle Jarnkrok, whose one-timer had all but Raanta’s right leg pad beaten.
The Preds went on the power play for four minutes early in the second...and proceeded to do nothing with it.
Scott Hartnell woke a mostly lifeless crowd on his breakaway, taking a long Ryan Ellis pass and beating Raanta to open the scoring. It was Hartnell’s 100th in a Predator uniform.
Arizona answered with :11.3 left in the period as Oliver Ekman-Larsson tied the game after a scramble in front of Rinne.
Kevin Fiala appeared to have a good chance early in the third, but had his legs taken out from under him by Jason Demers on a semi-breakaway.
Brendan Perlini gave the Coyotes a 2-1 lead with 6:20 to play on a backhand to the roof, but the Preds went on the power play just seven seconds later. Fiala had a grand chance to tie it, but put one off the post during the man advantage.
Ryan Ellis tied the game on a bomb that Arizona challenged for interference, but held up despite the inquiry.
Overtime had a couple of good chances, including Ryan Johansen (yes, he took a shot) ringing one off the post.
Lavy elected to let the Coyotes shoot first in the shootout, and Kyle Turris rewarded that decision in the first round.
But Nick Cousins, who had no shootout attempts to his credit, tied it in the third round and forced more attempts after Kevin Fiala was stopped on his try.
Craig Smith ended the madness in the fourth round.
- It’s a Thursday night, the West’s worst team is in the building, and the Preds can reclaim the Central lead (for now) with two points. You can learn a lot about a team in games like this.
- The lone standing member of the JOFA line is on the ice, so that’s helpful.
- Let’s see what a well-rested Pekka Rinne can do. This break was made to help with his workload, so he’s got to take advantage of it.
- Austin Watson is proving valuable in several areas. He’s doing good work in the corners when he’s not being Mr. Penalty Killer every other night.
- Ellis with a nice slap pass to Jarnkrok, who gets absolutely robbed by Raanta. That wakes the sleepy crowd up a bit.
- A lot more play in the Arizona end and the shot counter is reflecting it so far, despite it being a mostly quiet beginning 20 minutes. That’s not a good formula, though, because they’ve got nothing to show for it so far.
- Nearly out of the first period, Sissons gets called for interference. Stuff like that needs to be cleaned up in this next stretch of the season to really see a jump forward.
- Perhaps a power play will wake some people up. Ekholm draws a double minor early in the second.
- On second thought, nah.
- Ouch, P.K. That wipeout didn’t look fun.
- It’s usually at this point in old Road Runner cartoons where Wile E. Coyote gets foiled by one of his ACME purchases. The Preds are flirting with something blowing up in their faces if they don’t pick things up, and soon.
- That pass from Ellis to spring Hartnell...on point.
- Preds are spending more time in their own end than they should be at this stage of things. They’re playing with fire right now.
- I was in the middle of writing up a loss, then Ellis strikes and totally wipes that out. But wait, Arizona says “not fair” and challenges for interference. Yeah, I’m going to have to wipe that out.
- Mark that down as two points stolen. They really had no business winning that game, and somehow they did.
Super Duper Stars of the Game
- Ellis: He’s making some things happen, but he can’t be Superman. Or can he?
- Hartnell: For as little ice time as he got, he did cash in on his scoring chance from Ellis.
- Smith. Ice water in his veins.
Ellis on continuing to win without Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson:
“It means we have a lot of depth and character in here. Obviously those are some of the top scorers, but we have a lot of great players and the way everyone’s stepping up, it seems to be someone different every night, kind of filling in wherever needed. That’s what championship teams do - they find a way to win. It’s not always pretty.”
On the team’s recent offensive struggles:
“It happens every year for some period of time for every team, and just snapping out of that. When we simplify and throw pucks at the net, the hockey gods will reward us eventually with a bounce here or there.”
Josi on regaining chemistry with Ellis:
“I think it was pretty quick, because we played together all year last year. Our tendencies are still the same and we’re still trying to find each other in certain areas and know what the other guy is doing. I think it happened pretty quick this year.”
Hartnell on playing with the defense corps fully healthy:
“No matter what pair’s out there, it’s exciting. They activate, they join the rush, they’ve got a lot of speed. Some of the passes that they make, distributing the puck ... they’ve got a lot of skill, a lot of poise with the puck.
“Ekholm and Josi are behind the net more often than they’re at the blue line where they should be. It’s hard for defenses to find their guy if they’re playing zone or if they’re playing man-to-man, and it’s definitely a big part of our play.”
Tweets of the Night
is Antti Raanta really this good?— Rachel K (@_RKH80) January 19, 2018
i'm tired of these m************ penalties on this m************ team pic.twitter.com/NtQvmDKpsI— Marya ➡ (@_marya_k) January 19, 2018
I missed the first six minutes of the third period due to a minor bread mishap and I don’t think I missed anything.— Kate (@statswithkate) January 19, 2018