The Nashville Predators skated back into action tonight against the Vegas Golden Knights, looking to start fast after one break and before another. As some of us feared would be the case, they didn’t manage it.
Matt Duchene got the scoring started early, one-timing a pass from Roman Josi to put the puck past Adin Hill just over five minutes into the period. The Golden Knights struck back, forcing Juuse Saros to make several great saves on Jack Eichel and his line before Preds-killer Michael Amadio managed to get one past to tie it 1-1.
A Roman Josi error—he lost the puck, then lost his footing at central ice—allowed William Carrier to give the Knights the lead less than thirty seconds after Amadio’s equalizer. Another Josi error, this one a misread, let Carrier set Phil Kessel up for the Knights’ third unanswered goal.
Tommy Novak hit a post in the midst of a Preds attempted comeback, but a moment later Saros robbed William Karlsson, then Reilly Smith on the followup, to keep the Preds in the game. Nino Niederreiter then drew a penalty, giving Nashville a chance on the power play. Vegas was flawless on the penalty kill, and the teams headed to intermission with no further score.
While the Preds had had their chances in the first period, they came out for the second looking more than a little apathetic. Vegas set up shop in the Preds’ zone. An early goal from Chandler Stephenson looked a little questionable, with Saros possibly shoved around in his crease, but John Hynes opted not to challenge and the Knights took the 4-1 goal.
They took the rest of the period, too. Jeremy Lauzon was goaded into interfering with Smith thirteen minutes in, and for a moment it looked like things were looking up. The Preds killed the penalty, then even went on the offense for a moment, before Cody Glass took a horribly-timed holding penalty and things tilted in the Knights’ favor again. Nashville finished the second period with two shots on goal in the period, six in the game so far.
When they returned from the second intermission, they were at least a little less overrun than they’d been to start. While they still weren’t getting much if anything going offensively, at least Saros was seeing a bit less rubber. Still, it wasn’t the kind of third period any of us wanted to see; no urgency from the home team, no fun or impressive plays.
With Saros pulled for the extra attacker, Niederreiter drew a cross-checking penalty with just over three minutes left in the game. The Preds made an attempt on the power play, but not a successful one, and Hill set Alex Pietrangelo up for an empty-netter to make the final score 5-1.