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Last Night in Review: Impekkable Goaltending Allows Preds the Win

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That was a three-act heist movie, folks. Mikael Granlund drove the getaway truck.

Nashville Predators v Buffalo Sabres Photo by Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images

The Nashville Predators took a 2-1 series lead over the Dallas Stars last night. Kate and Rachel have your morning-after analysis.

The Good:

Kate: (Apart from the obvious—the game win and the series lead—) Pekka Rinne, my word.

Rachel: Pekka Rinne stole this game for Nashville. He was massive in net and held the line when the Predators couldn’t clear the puck. The elder Finnish netminder showed us all why he won the Vezina trophy.

Kate: (They couldn’t clear the puck a lot, but we’ll get back to that.)

Rachel: Rocco Grimaldi made the few fans in gold explode. The guy puts pucks on nets and absolutely never quits. He’s looked very good on a line with Calle Järnkrok and Miikka Salomäki. Salomäki picked up an assist on the goal.

Kate: Grimaldi has been really good since drawing back into the lineup. I still don’t know why they were healthy-scratching him; he’s been bringing exactly what we knew he could bring (speed and forechecking), and the fact that he’s been getting goals to boot is fantastic.

Rachel: There’s the Filip Forsberg we all know and love. Also: Nick Bonino’s pass to Forsberg was something magic. We know Forsberg is streaky and sneaky. He blazed around Roman Polak for Nashville’s second goal of the night. The Predators need much more from Forsberg and his line.

Kate: Forsberg scoring is what we in the analytics community call “#good”. He does tend to be a streaky scorer, so I’m excited about his making an appearance on the scoreboard. May there be many more to come. He and Granlund gave the top six some key impact on the boxscore in regulation tonight, which is good because other than the boxscore...well, we’ll get to that.

Rachel: Somehow, that puck to the net from Mikael Granlund managed to leak past Bishop. The Predators couldn’t maintain possession for more than ten seconds...but this happened. Pucks to the net result in chances. Take the goals as they come!

Kate: It wasn’t anything the Preds did or could control, but Ben Bishop had a subpar night. It was less that he allowed a lot of goals—three was basically average this year—and more that regular-season Bishop was a lot better than average, and two of the goals he allowed tonight were really easy.

The Bad:

Rachel: Stop taking penalties!!!!!!!

Kate: Discipline was, once again, not great. Rinne was otherworldly on that 3v5, but Nick Bonino taking a penalty on the penalty kill was bad. Austin Watson taking a tripping penalty because he couldn’t clear the zone was...also bad but maybe not a discipline problem per se.

Somehow in spite of all that the third line had a great night in the on-ice results department. They struggled horribly both nights in Nashville, but the change of scene—and maybe Jim Montgomery’s preferred matchup, except that I don’t see an obvious difference there—worked out better for them.

Which is great, because the top six and most of the defense pairings got caved in. The Johansen line had a bad night; the Turris line had a worse one. Also, once again, Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis did not live up to expectations, this time independently of the Bonino line.

Rachel: The Predators couldn’t seem to properly exit the zone and were struggling to maintain possession in front of Ben Bishop.

Kate: Zone exits were bad almost across the board, with a lot of dumps/turnovers (though P.K. Subban had a great night). They actually started off pretty well in the first, but then they just stopped. It didn’t seem to be a change in the Stars’ forechecking strategy, though I wasn’t recording the game and I admit I could have missed something. Really frustrating. They also had a rough time with controlled zone entries. I’d be interested in seeing whether Frédérick Gaudreau is a better or worse option than Salomäki (who wasn’t great).

The Ugly:

Kate: Hey, fun fact: the Dallas Stars took 89 shots in the direction of Pekka Rinne tonight. That’s eighty-nine, with an eight and a nine. The Predators blocked 28 of them (Josi and Ryan Johansen each blocked six, and Subban had five), and a few more missed, but Rinne still saw 42 shots. The Preds let up on the gas after going up 2-0, and the Stars took over and never looked back. They out-attempted the Preds 36 to 9 in the third period. This is not how you close out NHL games in any kind of reliable way.

Rachel: I spent most of the final five minutes holding my head in my hands. My nerves are shot. My heart rate is about 120 BPM. How am I supposed to sleep?