Nashville Predators 1, Toronto Maple Leafs 2 (SO): Snoozefest in Smashville, Leafs take extra point
The Toronto Maple Leafs suffocated the Predators the exact way they wanted to, and ended up taking home two points.
All of the goals and all of the excitement were used up on Tuesday night.
After a thrilling come-from-behind win against the Ottawa Senators, the Nashville Predators seemed poised to pounce into the Leafs and obliterate any chance of a cross conference win. Alas, it was not to be and that's why the games are played. Toronto did an excellent job slowing down the Preds and limiting attempts to pierce James Reimer.
Each team tried their best to bore the other into submission. Neither had much going in chances or shots until Shea Weber stopped the boring with a power play goal. It was a mirror image from his extra-man tally from last game, which was also pretty. Before the high of the goal wore off, 2016 Trade Deadline Buyer's Remorse candidate Tyler Bozak tied the game.
No one else scored in regulation, and overtime started with Michael Grabner in the box on an iffy penalty. Nashville somehow couldn't score on the 4-on-3 power play, nor could they convert for the rest of the frame. Five Predators took a turn in the shootout, and all were turned aside. Peter Holland kept the same for being true for Toronto, and the Maple Leafs found themselves the keeper of the extra point.
- James Reimer and Pekka Rinne didn't give up much, but they didn't have to work very hard either. Each saw 21 shots in 60 minutes, and it was as enthralling as you think.
- Nashville is taking way too many penalties lately. Between the Wild, Blues and Senators games, the Predators went shorthanded 12 times. They successfully killed only five of those for an oooogly 41.7% rate. They started tonight's game in a similar fashion, but thankfully it didn't hurt them this time. Whatever is going on, though, needs to get figured out quickly. Stop taking penalties or start killing them. Preferably both.
- Hater of goalies Mike Babcock has done a good job so far of turning the Leafs into a suffocating team that's hard to play against. Sure, they aren't talented by any stretch of the imagination, and their roster leaves a whole lot to be desired, but the Preds didn't find a lot of space to work with out there. Makes sense. Toronto can't match many teams if the skill starts to fly, so Babs has all of his players get in the way of the opponent to bring them down to his level. SMRT.
- Not only did it show up on the scoreboard, but on the shot counter as well. Although Nashville punched 61 attempts at Reimer, Toronto got in the way of many of them and stopped chances from getting to their netminder.
- Colton Sissons picked up where he left off on Tuesday. Nothing happened for him on the scoreboard, but he was buzzing and making the most of his 10:06 minutes of ice time. The entire fourth line was great, actually. Remember all the times we talked in the summer about hoping Eric Nystrom or Paul Gaustad would get scratched so the young kids could get a chance? We are seeing it right now... and it's glorious.
- Seriously, that line is actually cycling the puck and keeping it in the zone, rather than being a one and done.
- I know we're used to the shoddy production value of Fox Sports broadcasts, but splash ads that take up half the ice or FREAKING MAKE SOUNDS OVER THE BROADCAST are ridiculous.
- No one will mistake me for a Maple Leafs apologist, but that late, late hooking penalty on Michael Grabner was poop emoji. Kind of a cheap one to call, IMHO.
- So far the Predators aren't very good at 3-on-3. In five games that have gone beyond regulation so far this year, three have gone to a shootout and the other two they've lost. Definitely not indicative of how awesome the new OT is when it's played right.
- Another day, another game without a goal from any key member of the top two lines.
On paper, this looked like a game the Predators would easily win. Memories of last year's 9-2 win were dancing in everyone's heads. On the ice, it was a grueling slog to get through, and will be immediately forgotten. It wasn't the result they wanted, but thems the breaks.
Oh well. Regroup for an all-important division game on Saturday against a Winnipeg gets team that is looming in Nashville's rearview mirror.
Filip Forsberg's House of Pain of the Night
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