Welcome back to another postgame with your favorite cynic. I’m Eamon Smith, and I’ll be recapping tonight’s game with y’all. Who stood out? What were the key moments? All of this and more below.
For some reason, the Nashville Predators have no trouble manufacturing offense against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Why is that? I’d theorize it has something to do with John Tortorella’s system of allowing guys to enter the zone uncontested, but I’m not an NHL coach so I’m sure it can’t be that simple. Nashville dominated early and got rewarded with a powerplay goal from Calle Järnkrok, who collected a rebound after whiffing on another attempt earlier.
Noted offensive dynamo Ben Harpur was noticeable early in this game, generating a lot of shots on goal and eventually leading to the team getting their second tally of the period on a Colton Sissons dunk. The Preds notably got tons of traffic to the net early and managed to give Columbus fits on containing rebounds.
Nashville exited the period up 2-0 thanks to some great saves by Pekka Rinne and aggressive penalty killing (Matt Duchene went to the box late). This was clearly the best first period the team has had this year, but it came against a roster that seems to have weaknesses that match with the Predators’ strengths.
After a strong first period, the Predators promptly returned to form by allowing a shorthanded goal around four minutes into the second. Life is a comedy, eh? Nashville responded to allowing a goal to Scott “wow, he’s still in the league” Harrington and his defense partner Boone Jenner (who actually put the puck in the net) by allowing a goal to Gabriel Carlsson. Fun fact: Carlsson was picked up by the Jackets after being recently waived. It was his first NHL goal. 2-2 game. That was a fun detour in the first period, at least.
The Predators finished off that iconic “ah yes, 2021 Predators hockey” sequence with a Matt Duchene shot off the post. Mmm, I can just feel the bad luck and untimely defensive breakdowns seeping through my pores like friggin’ tapioca. It’s a sick feeling when you watch a team and feel no joy when they score, and that’s the point I’m on the threshold of.
Mark Borowiecki decided to spice things up by throwing hands with Nick Foligno. The big defender got a few shots in, as did the Columbus captain, but Boro clearly won the fight and even seemingly injured Foligno.
Roman Josi drew a penalty to send Nashville back to the power play, but unfortunately Elvis Merzlikins was having none of it.
Eeli Tolvanen had an excellent chance where he flashed his speed, puck skills and hockey IQ, but the young Finn barely whiffed on the finish and a second backhanded attempt. The Predators exited the period tied despite largely obliterating Columbus.
Right off the bat, Calle Järnkrok again flashed that oh-so-tantalizing wrist shot of his to make it a 3-2 game. Filip Forsberg saw that and said “I’ll do you one better,” beating Merzlikins cleanly with a singular effort off of the face-off. Two goals in 35 seconds is a pretty solid way to turn a game around, I’d say. Soon afterwards, Elvis suffered an injury (unfortunate), necessitating an appearance by Joonas Korpisalo.
Well how about this one from Filip Forsberg!? pic.twitter.com/PRX8vrqXlc— NHL (@NHL) February 21, 2021
Pekka Rinne made an absolutely spectacular save on an Atkinson tip, made a bit more complicated by an unfortunate bounce off a Fabbro deflection. Forsberg almost set up Arvidsson with a ridiculous pass, but unfortunately the attempt skittered just wide.
Forsberg set up Arvidsson again for a chance late and Järnkrok barely missed the hat-trick when his shot went off the post, but the Predators walked away happy with the 4-2 victory.
Three Big Things
- Filip Forsberg wasn’t included in the list of players reported to be “untouchable” by Elliotte Friedman today. Tonight’s performance shows why that shouldn’t be the case. I want this team to rebuild, but not in Buffalo fashion, and whatever you trade Forsberg for will likely be a pittance compared to his actual value. He’s a legitimate star.
- Pekka Rinne has had an uneven year, but overall he was very good tonight and he continues to play better than Juuse Saros. Is that ideal? No, but it’s nice to see the face of the franchise ride into the sunset with a less depressing season than last year. He made some great saves tonight and I’m glad he continues to play well in spurts.
- Eeli Tolvanen smells blood in the water, but for some reason he can’t buy his way into the top six. Järnkrok looked great tonight, but Rocco Grimaldi was completely invisible for the second game in a row so I’d love to see the emerging Finnish rookie up on that line. Hopefully Hynes saw that explosive speed from Tolvanen and was impressed.
It’s been a little bit since we’ve had a proper victory, so it warrants celebration with a good “sit back and enjoy it” celebratory song. Let’s get it.
Glad to share the win with you, folks. Goodnight, and as always, go Preds.