The Predators lost their first game of 2018 tonight, falling 2-0 to the Vegas Golden Knights. It was a disappointing effort, to be honest, despite the initial excitement due to the return of Ryan Ellis.
The opening frame came and went without a goal, but there was plenty of action at both ends. Nick Bonino had several good chances to score on his old teammate Marc-Andre Fleury, but couldn’t quite make it happen. Reilly Smith had a hard shot go off the post behind Pekka Rinne. James Neal nearly scored from the circle.
After the first 20 minutes, the game remained scoreless with the Golden Knights leading the shot clock 15-4.
Despite the Predators gaining ground on the shot clock early in the 2nd period, the Golden Knights took a two goal lead on goals by Reilly Smith and Shea Theodore. The goals came a minute and a half apart and both goals were a bit iffy for Rinne. On the first, he lost the near post and Smith banked the puck in off his back leg. On the second, Theodore’s shot came in low, Rinne had it controlled, but somehow it squeezed through the five-hole and in.
The rest of the 2nd period was Nashville holding on for dear life. They struggled to generate any pressure on the Vegas defense and what little they did get through was stopped easily by Fleury.
From there, the game spiraled into a nothing burger. Vegas shut down all the offense and closed out a dominant win with great defensive play and excellent goaltending. Fleury ended up with 28 saves and his fourth shutout of the season.
Really frustrating game to watch, but it’s still just one game of the season. Now we wait to find out about Forsberg’s injury timetable and the team heads to Arizona.
- Ellis starts with Roman Josi. A bit surprising, as I thought he might start on the third pairing to give him less minutes. We will see how long that lasts.
- Reilly Smith nearly scored off a great pass in front, but it clangs off the post. Really lucky they didn’t score there.
- Both sides are playing with some confidence, but the goalies are doing their job. Lots of great action early in this one.
- Well you’d like to get more shots on goal in a period than four, wouldn’t you?
- Holy moly, the Preds came out on fire in the 2nd period (like usual, I guess).
- That 15-4 shot advantage for Vegas is now only a 16-15 advantage.
- Anthony Bitetto looks pretty good. Huh, look at that—give a guy Mattias Ekholm and all of a sudden he’s not bad.
- First goal goes to Vegas. Banked in off Rinne’s back. Unfortunate.
- And then they get another. This time Rinne stopped it, but not enough of it. 2-0. Ugh.
- Both of those goals were a damn shame. Losing the near post isn’t a good idea when the guy with the puck is on the near post. Frustrating.
- Wow, the Preds look lost and overwhelmed right now. Totally out of sorts.
- The start of the 3rd period looks pretty lifeless. Not enough pressure, no control in the zone, weak passing.
- Preds are getting “nickel & dimed”—Golden Knights are stopping every puck movement, clogging the lanes with sticks, pressing hard in the neutral zone, and forcing stoppages. There is absolutely no flow to this final frame and that’s completely by design.
OTF’s Super Duper Stars of the Game
- Nick Bonino: I don’t know, sure.
- Craig Smith: Did he play?
- Anthony Bitetto: I think he played and he did some stuff.
Tweets of the Night
Will Vegas have a tribute video for Knight Legend Emelin? #Preds— Ryan Aziminia (@aziminia) January 3, 2018
Faila serving the bench minor as punishment for his girlfriend revealing the nature of Forsberg’s injury on her Instagram.— Jim Diamond (@diamondhockey) January 3, 2018