We might be in for some boring hockey this year, folks.
After finding closure with an ex, in the form of Viktor Arvidsson, last time out, the Nashville Predators finished out the three-game homestand to open the season tonight. The team’s final test, the New York Rangers, were riding on a two-game winning streak that was last continued by an Artemi Panarin overtime goal that beat the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Juuse Saros got the start in net for Nashville once again, and Igor Shesterkin started for the Rangers, as the Predators fell to the Rangers, 3-1.
The Predators opened the first 20 minutes with a solid possession that forced Shesterkin to make multiple high-danger saves. The home team couldn’t convert, though, and the away team did; on the first shot on goal of the night, Rangers forward Filip Chytil lobbed a backhand shot past Saros. It was less than three minutes into the game, and a mustard bottle toss could be heard at Bridgestone Arena. Nashville was given a chance to rebound after Sammy Blais got called for a crosscheck. The power play units were able to test the Russian for New York, but Shesterkin remained firm and kept the score at 1-0.
Saros and Shesterkin dueled for the rest of the period, as the one goal Saros let in would prove to be the lone score in the period. Mattias Ekholm was called for a slashing penalty with less than a minute in the first, but the Predators would survive long enough to finish the penalty kill out when the second began. After 20 minutes of world-class goaltending, Nashville trailed by one goal.
The Rangers were unable to convert on the power play in the remaining time left over from the first; however, as gracious hosts, the Predators gave them another crack at it when Tanner Jeannot hooked Alex Lafreniere less than two minutes into the second period. The man advantage was extended to two when Matt Benning was sent to the penalty box for elbowing; before heading to the sin bin, he made sure to beat the living hell out of a poor Ranger. Despite the pressure that the Rangers created, Saros rose to the occasion and made a couple of highlight saves en route to a full penalty kill.
Then, it was finally time for some Nashville offense. Predators rookie Phil Tomasino found a rebound from a Dante Fabbro shot, and then gathered the rebound to his own shot. From there, the Canadian fired the puck which hit Shesterkin and rebounded off him and into the net. With his first career NHL goal, Tomasino had drawn the Predators even at one.
Tensions continued to rise with the newly-tied score, and the players were finding any cheap shot at their opponents that they could. Jeannot contributed to these shots, and he was booked for the second time in the game. This time, for a crosscheck. The Rangers still continued their 0-fer on the power play, and Nashville was given a chance of its own when Blais was called for interference against Filip Forsberg. The Preds were unsuccessful, and that would do it for period two; Nashville entered the final 20 with a tie game.
It was rather inevitable that more penalties were coming, wasn’t it?
Less than two minutes into the final period of play, Ranger Barclay Goodrow headed to the penalty box after getting called for roughing against Mikael Granlund. Nashville was never able to find a groove, and there were 16 minutes for a game-winning goal to be found after the penalty expired. The Rangers thought that they had found their game winner, but it was deemed offsides after a challenge from head coach John Hynes.
Still, New York was the next team to score. Around the halfway mark of the final 20 minutes, a center-ice turnover turned into a Rangers push. Two excellent passes later, Lafreniere only had to nudge the puck past an out-of-position Saros to put New York ahead by one goal.
There was still time for the Predators, but not a wealth of it. Instead of rebounding and attacking Shesterkin for the remaining minutes, Nashville was forced to sit back by the Rangers’ offensive attack.
Saros was pulled in the final minutes of the game, but Goodrow found open ice in front of the empty net and buried both the puck and the game in the final seconds. With a final score of 3-1, Nashville finished the opening homestand with a 1-3 record.
OTF’s Three Stars of the Game
- Phil Tomasino — First career goal, and a fun one at that! His confidence visibly was visibly boosted afterwards.
- Juuse Saros — Through four penalty kills including a five-on-three opportunity, Saros stood tall. Not much Saros could have done on that last goal.
- Matt Benning — Won a fight, I guess. Not a whole lot of stars to take from this game, to be honest.