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Nashville Predators 2, Boston Bruins 5: Penalties the Difference, Preds’ Road Skid Continues

That was...not good.

NHL: Nashville Predators at Boston Bruins Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

In their previous meeting, the Predators shut out the Bruins and held on for a 1-0 victory at home. Today, entering on a long road losing streak, the Predators signally failed to shut out the Bruins. The penalty kill disappointed, the power play was as bad as we’ve come to expect, and the Preds limped into the break on a four-game losing streak.

Patrice Bergeron returned from a long absence due to injury, and Mattias Ekholm was back from illness, so both banged-up teams got someone important back this afternoon. One team would take more advantage of this than the other.

The game started fairly evenly, with a few chances and saves at both ends. Halfway through the first period the Preds were racking up the shots on goal, with Jaroslav Halák a lot busier than Pekka Rinne, but the total shots (corsi on many sites, SAT on were closer to even, and that matched the flow of play better. The Bruins had had a great-looking cycle that was completely fruitless but kept Rinne on his toes and kept the skaters working hard.

A misplay by Dan Hamhuis led to a heartstopping sequence where Rinne—scrambling behind four and a half skaters, as Austin Watson lost his stick—made stop after stop but was unable to freeze the puck for what felt like about five years, before he finally managed to get a whistle. Sadly for everyone and in a tragic waste of all that goaltending effort, not long afterward Roman Josi lost his balance in the blue paint and ended up shoving Rinne down just a few moments later, just as a Bergeron shot was sailing toward the goal. 1-0 Bruins, and I’m only surprised it took that long.

The period mercifully ended with the Predators down by only one goal, despite another last-minute press by the Bruins. The second period picked up exactly where the first left off, with strong chances by the Bruins and Rinne doing his best to keep up.

A few weeks ago, The Point had mentioned that the Predators were spending the least time in the offensive zone before scoring a goal of any team. At the time, the Predators were still scoring goals, but now that they’re not that looks like it might have been an early warning sign of their inability to really sustain a cycle if they couldn’t score on that initial shot—and with players like Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson out, the Preds are missing one really good shooter and two good transition players.

David Pastrnak made sure we were all awake by soaring into the Predators’ defensive zone all on his own and collecting the puck behind the net, but Ryan Ellis was able to break up the centering pass and the Predators escaped again.

However, eight unending minutes into the period—about seven of which felt like they occurred inside the Preds’ zone—Rinne was unable to get the Preds out of another one of those endless sequences where he was scrambling to make shot after shot, and David Krejci got the puck into the net while Rinne was snow-angeled on the ice being poked with sticks. Somehow, despite everything, Rinne almost managed to make the save anyway. It was washed out when Peter Laviolette challenged for goalie interference and won the challenge, but that was an ugly, awful sequence anyway.

The Predators came out of the timeout with a little more fire, and Ryan Johansen eventually managed a goal of his own to tie the game, picking up a nice bank pass from Craig Smith and taking Halák s much by surprise as he took us.

The Bruins came back the other way, but Rinne held on. With just over two minutes left in the period, Matt Grzelcyk took a penalty and the Predators went on the power play. This was cut short by Johansen’s interference on Charlie MacAvoy, and the next 51 seconds were 4v4. Scraped-up ice helped the Preds make it out of the period still tied, but Ekholm took an unnecessary penalty against Pastrnak just as the buzzer sounded, giving the Bruins up to 1:04 of 5v3 time.

As it happened, the Predators escaped the 5v3, but gave up another goal to Bergeron on the ensuing 5v4. A few minutes later, Grzelcyk decided to return to the penalty box and Bergeron got a great shorthanded chance. The power play ended with the Preds still trailing by one.

With a bit over eleven minutes to go in the third, the Predators finally got some sustained, good-looking play in the offensive end going. Kyle Turris, coming on during a mid-possession line change, eventually scored to tie the game again.

Boston pushed back hard, getting some great chances around the Preds’ net. While the Preds were scrambling, Pastrnak drew another penalty, this time on Ryan Hartman. The Bruins promptly scored again. This time it was Brad Marchand.

Pastrnak added another goal moments later, giving the Bruins their first two-goal lead of the game with under six minutes to go. Moments later, Yannick Weber went down in the corner with what looked like a knee injury and had to be helped to the locker room.

The Bruins added an empty-net goal—surprisingly not by Bergeron—and held on for the 5-2 win.

Random Observations:

  • Josi-Ellis is really just not working this year. #eyetest only, but Josi-Yber and Hamhuis-Ellis looked less...bad.
  • FS-TN wants us to know that the Preds have been losing games because they’ve been getting outscored. I see FS-TN read the gamethread’s helpful advice on how not to lose.
  • Zac Rinaldo and Mattias Ekholm on a 2-on-1. Okay.
  • (They did not score.)
  • This defense is unspeakable. Trade everyone. Järnkrok for Norris.
  • When you look at what the opponents are doing, the Preds’ lack of offense really stands out. They can’t stay in the zone.
  • Not going to compliment the Preds’ anything from here on out; Rinne saw nine of the ten shots on goal taken since I mentioned the Preds had a substantial SOG edge.
  • Second period, same as the Feariod? No. Let’s just not.
  • When I said the defense was unspeakable, I meant I didn’t want to have to speak about it, y’all. Also, Järnkrok un-nominated for Norris.
  • Good things happen when Ryan Johansen shoots the puck.
  • Rinne had to play the puck in the middle of the ice because Miikka Salomäki wasn’t going to make it there in time. Cool cool.
  • Ugh, a power play.
  • Ugh, a penalty.
  • Ugh, two penalties and a goal against.
  • “Bruins content to just let the Predators pass it around the perimeter” could be describing a regular Preds power play, not just the 6v5 of a delayed penalty.
  • Wow, someone told Turris the Preds are allowed to score more than one goal! Rad.
  • Sadly, we are still not allowed to have nice things.
  • I said two things, guys. I said try to win and if you can’t win at least don’t get hurt. I don’t feel like this ought to be too much to ask.

OTF’S Super Duper Stars of the Game:

  1. Can I just give it to Patrice Bergeron? I’m gonna just give it to Patrice Bergeron. The man had three points in his first game back from fairly substantial injuries.
  2. Craig Smith: Had some very good chances and was pretty good defensively as well.
  3. Pekka Rinne: The performance was less than great, but he didn’t throw anything at any point, and some days that’s the most you can ask of your goalie.

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