The Predators won their final game before the bye week, beating the Oilers 2-1 in a “hunker down in the defensive zone as soon as you go up by two goals and hope Rinne can keep them off the board” kind of night.
Somehow, it worked.
The first period flew by. After eight uninterrupted minutes of pure hockey, the Predators found themselves on the power play. A P.K. Subban slapshot hamstrung Cam Talbot and Craig Smith was there to backhand the rebound home. That made it 1-0.
Then, a Roman Josi shot went off Adam Larsson’s face (ouch). Viktor Arvidsson pounced on the loose puck and made it 2-0 with a little less than five minutes left in the first period.
Not only were the Oilers reeling somewhat, down 2-0 on the road, the Preds led in shots 11 to 8 after twenty minutes and looked pretty comfortable for most of the period. It might have been a good idea to keep the pedal down and get a few more on Talbot.
Might have been.
It didn’t take long for Connor McDavid to get the Oilers back in the game in the 2nd period. He out worked Mattias Ekholm in the zone and scored on Rinne to make it a 2-1 game only 45 seconds into the period. It was a beautiful play, really, showcasing his skill as a power forward and as a skilled winger. Rinne was right there with the play, but just couldn’t close the five-hole in transition.
The Preds dug themselves out of some tough pressure by the Oilers eventually, but couldn’t manage to get anything by Talbot in the period. Johansen had the best chance in front, but Talbot gloved it out of the air.
So we went to the 3rd period with the Preds up a goal, but barely clinging to their slim lead. More pressure by the Oilers led to... well, more shots by the Oilers. The Preds seemingly had no interest in attacking at the other end. And it would appear that Kevin Fiala’s role changed somewhat in the final frame.
The biggest test came when it appeared as if Mark Letestu had scored with just under five minutes left. Taking the risk of getting a delay of game call, Coach Laviolette challenged the goal for offside and it was overturned.
The Preds played some questionable defense in the final moments, but found a way to hold off the Oilers and win 2-1. Pekka Rinne finished with 25 saves and played very efficiently in net, not giving up too many rebounds and tracking the puck very well.
I wouldn’t suggest this strategy as a long term, playoff winning formula. But it worked tonight.
To the bye week we go! Next game is in a week.
- Top line is Turris-Smith-Fiala, but the second line (Johansen, Arvdisson, Aberg) gets the start. They really need to get something going tonight.
- And right off the bat, Joey and Aberg have a couple of chances. Good to see.
- Not an overwhelming start for either team, but the way the Preds’ 1st periods have gone, maybe that’s good.
- My goodness, what a freaking save by Rinne on McDavid.
- Really a pretty solid first period. 2-0, plenty of chances, Rinne looks good.
- Well that didn’t last long. McDavid is just too good. Preds only up a goal now.
- Annnd it might not last much longer. The Oilers are bringing it in this 2nd period.
- Scott Hartnell and Johansen both just got denied by Talbot. This is better from the Preds. Starting to dig their way out of it.
- The Emelin-Weber pairing isn’t god awful or anything. It also isn’t spectacular. They too often get pinned in the defensive zone because they either lack the skill (Emelin) or the vision (Weber) to make the necessary plays. So, in other words, they are pretty much like every other bottom pairing in hockey.
- Gretzky’s here!
- Kevin Fiala has disappeared from the Turris line. Sissons skates with Joey and Arvy. Weird things going on.
- Sissons draws a penalty short-handed and then the Preds pull of the ultra-rare “delayed penalty on the penalty kill” move and kill off almost a minute of Subban’s penalty. It was really well done.
- Wow. I am kind of shocked Lavy challenged that goal. The risk is so high.
- YAY! A win.
OTF’s Super Duper Stars of the Game
- Rinne: 25 saves and he looked great all night.
- Josi/Ellis: The best defensive pairing on the night, they were the only group that seemed capable of breaking the high pressure the Oilers were bringing.
- Arvidsson: Great heads up play to stay on that puck and drive it home. He always looks like a devil in the offensive zone, no matter if he’s scoring or not.
Tweets of the Night
Heh. Lucic caught cheating. In other news, water is wet.— Chris Brooks (@CBrooksTN) January 10, 2018
Kevin Fiala’s passing ability and the fact he rarely forces a pass is a really underrated part of his game. #Preds— AtoZSports Nashville (@AtoZSports) January 10, 2018
Nice to see a #Preds game on NBCSN free of Milbury nonsense.— Steve Cook (@stevecook84) January 10, 2018
That Pittsburg Penguin stanley cup offsides feeling— Ken Clarke (@PREDStotheCUP) January 10, 2018