After an embarrassing 6-1 loss against the Los Angeles Kings, the Nashville Predators looked to bounce back against an even more formidable foe, the Vegas Golden Knights. The fireworks started early. Both teams exchanged hits and shots at each other’s nets. Just 79 seconds into the game, Ryan Johansen would beat Chandler Stephenson in a defensive zone faceoff, but the Knights would strike shortly thereafter, with Stephenson and Alex Pietrangelo assisting on the Mattias Janmark goal, making it 1-0. While not a slow start by the definition of the term, starting in the hole once again doesn’t bode well.
After the Vegas goal, the Predators would struggle to keep up with the high-flying Golden Knights, and while most of the Vegas shot attempts were blocked or missing the net, Nashville couldn’t maintain possession long enough to slow down the Vegas offense. A scary moment on the ice stopped the game for some time after a hit by Forsberg on Brett Howden, leaving the Vegas player on the ice and being taken to the hospital and monitored. After a short stretch where Nashville was beginning to build some momentum, Vegas would enter the zone - the first shot would go wide of the net and rebound off of the back wall, allowing Vegas to get the puck out to the circle after a Predator block and Roy would score on a turnaround shot to the far side. Vegas doubled their lead, 2-0.
Nashville would continue to fight to maintain possession and turn the tide in shots, but Vegas would consistently find ways to turn them back, and the Predators would end the first period down 2-0.
Despite the score, once positive of the first period was the lack of penalties. Any more in this game and it could get ugly. The Predators would come out of the locker room looking to be more physical, but Vegas would continue their offensive onslaught, forcing Saros to make several saves early in the period. And because I said it above, Alexandre Carrier would get called for holding on William Carrier, and the Knights would go to the first power play of the night - and once again, it wouldn’t take long. The once-traded and now not-traded Evgenii Dadonov would find the back of the net with Marchessault and Stephenson picking up the assist, making it 3-0 Knights.
Shortly after the goal, the Knights would pick up a penalty of their own, and the top-10 power play unit of the Preds would have to get them back in the game. And of course, the usual suspects show back up. Ryan Johansen and Roman Josi would find Filip Forsberg, who would score his 36th goal of the season, extending his franchise record for both career and seasons. The Predators would cut into the Knight’s lead, 3-1.
The Predators came out after the goal looking to build off the momentum, but things would start to fall apart quickly. Shortly after the faceoff, Colton Sissons would get called for an iffy penalty on Evgenii Dadonov and head back to the power play. Nashville would make a valiant effort to protect Saros who would have to make several saves. Just when it appeared the Predators would kill the penalty, Ben Harpur was called for cross-checking Alex Pietrangelo and another two minutes went up on the board. A frantic Knights power play would pepper Saros three times before Jack Eichel would snipe and find the back of the net, and the Predators would fall behind 4-1.
The Predators would finally start to maintain possession and would get several chances, but Nashville would end the second period would a few quality chances, but nothing more. The score remained 4-1.
The third period would find the Predators nearly being able to keep up with Vegas in terms of shot attempts and possession time, but once again penalties would rear their ugly head. After challenging the Vegas goaltender early, the Predators would find themselves getting the second chances they had been lacking all game long, but as time ticked away, Nashville was no closer to closing the led. Matt Tennyson would high-stick Chandler Stephenson with 6 minutes left, and Stephenson himself would make the Preds pay 30 seconds later, scoring with help from Eichel and Stephenson, leaving the score 5-1 and all but lost.
Defeated, the Preds would lay a few more hits but struggle to get anything off and Alex Pietrangelo would score via Roy and Dadonov (his 3rd point) and an embarrassing loss was officially a disaster, 6-1.
Not content to let the game end, Mattias Janmark would cross-check Nick Cousins, leading to a fight between the two, and with that, the game would end a merciful 83 seconds later and Nashville would head back home to get ready for Sunday’s matchup against the Philadelphia Flyers.
Third Star: Logan Thompson
Second Star: Jack Eichel
First Star: Evgenii Dadonov