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Nashville Predators 3, Ottawa Senators 4 (OT): First Period Dooms Preds, Comeback Falls Short

Roman Josi had two goals and an assist, and Ryan Johansen had three assists, but yikes, that defense.

NHL: Nashville Predators at Ottawa Senators Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

The Nashville Predators and Ottawa Senators faced off for the second time in the last week, this time in Canada. Both teams have gotten a little healthier since their last meeting, but they were both still missing several key players. The Preds had struggled on the road, and the Sens had been strong at home. In the end, it more or less worked out that way tonight as well.

Barely over a minute into the game, Roman Josi took a high-sticking penalty against Thomas Chabot, giving the Senators a chance on the power play—a game state where they have seen a lot of recent success. They saw that success again, as Maxime Lajoie scored. Even more noteworthy than Lajoie’s goal was Brady Tkachuk left all alone in front of Pekka Rinne. If Lajoie hadn’t scored, Tkachuk would certainly have.

He did just a few moments later, from the same place he’d been on in the power play, when Mark Stone mishandled the puck but still managed to pass it behind Rinne to Tkachuk. The Senators kept pressing. Cody Ceci (not a typo) had a good chance in on his own, and then a pileup ensued with Rinne presumably somewhere at the bottom.

With a little under half the period gone, the Predators’ bus looked like it might have arrived at the Canadian Tire Centre. The fourth line had a few chances, but the Senators chanced right back. Rinne woke us up with a very nice save on a breakaway chance by rookie Drake Batherson. Not long after that, Calle Järnkrok drew a penalty, and, with Mark Stone in the box, the Predators went on the power play.

It was fruitless, and never really looked particularly dangerous after the first couple of seconds in spite of some good puck movement. Ryan Ellis took some slapshots, Kevin Fiala did something unnecessarily complicated that didn’t work, and the entire thing could probably have been convincingly described by a random generator.

With under three minutes left in the period, the Predators decided to try playing with six skaters instead of five. This being against the rules, the Senators went back on the power play. The Preds’ penalty kill made a tenacious effort, with shorthanded chances from Colton Sissons and Nick Bonino as well as some hard work in the d-zone by the rest of the players, but although they killed off the penalty—despite a goal scare that didn’t count due to being played with a high stick—it wasn’t good enough. Ryan Dzingel scored the Senators’ third goal with just 11.6 seconds left in the period.

Juuse Saros led the Preds out to start the second. The Preds had struggled to generate offense in front of Saros, while not being better defensively for him than Rinne, but Rinne hadn’t looked great and the team had played so badly in front of him that it seemed like a good time to make a change, even if for nothing else than to shake the team up.

It seemed to work, as the Predators actually made some vague efforts in their own end as the Senators swarmed in to start the second. Dan Hamhuis made an awful turnover, got bailed out by emergency backup goalie Mattias Ekholm, and then got stuck out there for what felt like hours as he was unable to make a change and the Sens kept pressuring. Eventually, Hamhuis got to change, the Predators got to clear, and then Turris drew a penalty.

This time, amazingly, the Predators scored. Roman Josi started making up for a bad first period when he picked up a pass at the bottom of the circle and ended Craig Anderson’s shutout bid. The team finally managed to get some sustained pressure going after that, first with Sissons crashing the net and then with some good looks from Turris and Järnkrok. Just after that, they got yet another chance on the power play.

Sadly, this power play was a lot less useful than the last. The Preds spent a lot of it being chased back to their own end by the Ottawa penalty killers, didn’t manage to get set up until late, and didn’t score. The hockey was interrupted at this point by Kyle Turris and Bobby Ryan dropping the gloves. After the fight, the Senators continued pressuring and eventually appeared to score, but the puck was once again determined to have been played with a high stick.

That escape seemed to spark the Predators, as Josi, Ryan Ellis, and the third line had a great sequence that almost brought the score within one. Anderson was somehow able to keep the puck out. Moments later, the fourth line got some more chances after a takeaway by Frederick Gaudreau, Anderson once again made some saves, and hostilities broke out among the skaters. No penalties were called, and play resumed, but no goals were scored for the rest of the period.

Calle Järnkrok started the period off by drawing a penalty just seconds in, and Craig Smith promptly scored to bring the Preds within one. The Predators kept things in the Sens’ end, Ryan Johansen and Kevin Fiala made some plays, and one zone re-entry later Josi eventually tied the game.

Over eleven minutes remained in the third period, and the game was far from over. The teams traded chances before the Predators once again got caught with six skaters on the ice and went back on the penalty kill. This time, despite numerous threats, the Preds kept the Senators off the board and went back on the attack. Rocco Grimaldi drew a penalty with some determined play around the net, and it was the Predators’ turn for a power play with just minutes left. They were unable to score their third power play goal in one night and the game headed to overtime.

There was some discussion during the break of whether Colin White had clipped Austin Watson at the end of regulation, but overtime started 3v3, and ended nineteen seconds in as Thomas Chabot capitalized on a bad play by Ryan Johansen and scored the gamewinner.

Random Observations:

  • This is not a good start.
  • Talking about how the Preds have given up a goal on the first shot in both their games against Ottawa this season is also not good.
  • Oh, it’s Tired Regional Stereotype Country Music Night.
  • Stone losing the puck was an unbelievable bit of luck. Might have known it wouldn’t last.
  • Cody Ceci just almost scored on the Preds.
  • Oh, good, a power play. That’s great.
  • What is Kevin Fiala even doing with his life?
  • The fourth line has looked pretty good tonight. Given that on a healthy Preds team they’d be the fifth line, that’s a concern about everyone else.
  • Good effort by Sissons and Järnkrok on that penalty kill.
  • Bonino, too.
  • That no-goal on the high stick feels like the Preds got away with one.
  • Oh. They did.
  • Intermission update: the fourth line has, statistically, had a pretty bad night.
  • Ekholm making saves behind Saros is [this_is_fine_dog.gif]
  • Half my Twitter timeline is people trying to trade for Mark Stone. Or maybe just stick him in a duffel bag without compensation for Dorion, I’m not sure.
  • A power play goal! A power play goal!
  • Funny how you score those when you’re not just taking slapshots from the next county over.
  • They heard all the nice things we said about the power play and decided to stop doing them.
  • I love the Arvy screen from Ryan Hartman, though.
  • If you search for “Kyle Turris” the first result that comes up is an article about the Capital City Condors, the Ottawa team for kids with disabilities that he’s involved with. (Once I was in the right place, I learned this was his first fight since May 2017, and his first regular-season fight in almost exactly two years.)
  • Man this game is weird. I’m having Colorado offside memories.
  • By my count this game could really easily be 7-1 right now.
  • Okay, now it could be 7-3 or 7-4.
  • Intermission update: Ryan Johansen has been really bad tonight on paper. It checks out; his line’s been almost invisible, but oof.
  • Craignog for everyone!
  • If you like homemade eggnog, one pasteurized egg + half a cup whole milk (or half-and-half) + 1-2 tablespoons sugar + a dash of vanilla + nutmeg is basically breakfast. Especially if you double it.
  • Miikka Salomäki with a spectacular check on...the boards. He bounced off them and everything. Thomas Chabot can skate.
  • Passing into a line change is diabolical.
  • Well, one point is better than zero.

OTF’s Super Duper Stars of the Game:

  1. Juuse Saros: He tried, and the goalie swap made the team try too.
  2. Roman Josi: Sure. Why not.
  3. Calle Järnkrok: He got unlucky, but he had a really strong night in terms of shot share, drew two penalties, and took a fair number of shots of his own.

Tweets of the Night:

And, although I don’t get to use it quite the way I’d hoped,