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Nashville Predators 2, Tampa Bay Lightning 3 (OT): Kyle Turris Played in this Game

The Predators lost a close game to a pretty good Tampa Bay team.  We’ll dive into all that in a second.  But I want to start with a positive.

No matter what your opinion or theory is on the Kyle Turris situation, it was good to see him back on the ice; more specifically, on the ice in meaningful minutes.

You think of all the drama surrounding this saga in the past two weeks: the tense response from coach Peter Laviolette when asked, the headlines around the league about trade rumors… even tonight, Jeremy Roenick predicted Turris would have virtually no impact whenever and wherever he returned to the lineup.  That’s a lot of chaos to deal with while you’re trying to prepare for your first game in two weeks.

And to have the game he had tonight?  That’s just an extra cherry on top.

A goal and an assist the night you return from a seven-game healthy scratch spree is something I don’t think any of us predicted.  Now sure, we can talk about some of the more in-depth aspects of his performance.  Defensively, he’s still just okay.  But again, that’s fine.  The Predators have enough good defensive players, both on the blue line and in the forwards corps, to keep the unit solid, and give Kyle a chance to play his game.

I don’t know what the future holds for Turris… if he’s going to get a chance to re-fit into the Predators’ corps, or if this was simply a way to audition him for teams interested in a trade.

All I know is that tonight, he showed what he can bring to the team if used the right way.

Now, on to the game.

What Happened?

It’s a bit of a sloppy start for both teams.  There’s a lot of back-and-forth turnovers as both teams struggle to get things going.  The Preds get a good chance right off the bat when Ryan McDonagh falls down trying to play the puck, leading to a 3-on-1 that’s ultimately stopped by Andrei Vasilevskiy. The Lightning respond a few minutes later with an odd-man rush that nearly sneaks by Rinne, but gets cleared from the blue line by Turris at the last minute.

Victor Hedman gets the game’s first goal with a slap shot from just inside the blue line.  Craig Smith laid out to try and block the shot, but instead, the puck deflected off his stick, giving it just enough lift to fool Rinne. 1-0 Lightning.

You would have loved to see the Preds respond with a bit more energy after that goal against.  That… uh… doesn’t exactly happen.  They go just about 10 minutes without a shot attempt (not a shot on goal, a shot ATTEMPT.)  That includes an uneventful power play opportunity that actually saw Tampa get a better scoring chance than the Preds.

There was a lot that happened in the second period, but let’s be honest, you didn’t care because you were too busy enjoying the Pierre McGuire and Joey Logano Variety Hour between the benches!

The period gets started with a fight between Austin Watson and Luke Schenn, which wound up being a response to Watson’s hit on Hedman at the end of the first.  It doesn’t last long.  Schenn tags Watson with a right hand and they both go down.  Watson’s bloodied up as he heads to the box.

Six minutes into the period, the Preds tie the game with a Calle Jarnkrok goal right off the faceoff.  Turris (who’d get an assist on the goal… TAKE THAT, LAVY) plays the draw back to Jarnkrok, who skates right and fires a shot past Vasilevskiy from the high slot.

Unfortunately, the celebration doesn’t last long.  Tampa makes it 2-1 just 31 seconds later.  Ondrej Palat winds up wide-open in front of the net, and Nikita Kucherov finds him for a one-timer that beats Rinne. Despite going down in a high-danger area, it wasn’t exactly the best goal allowed from Pekka.  He overplayed Kucherov and was WAY out of the crease when Palat fired the shot.

Here’s where the game started to turn a little bit.  Brayden Point takes an elbow to the face from Ryan Johansen.  The refs review it and give Joey five and a game.  You be the judge…

What followed was perhaps Nashville’s best penalty-killing job of the season.  No one really gives Tampa any space to make a play, and the Preds force a couple of turnovers that lead to some quality shorthanded chances.  By the end of the five minute major, the Preds had actually outshot the Lightning 5-2, and kept Tampa to just 3 shot attempts overall.

You could feel a change in the atmosphere after that sequence.  The hitting starts to picking up (including a questionable one from Yanni Gourde on Roman Josi) and the Preds start crashing the net a little more.  That includes a GORGEOUS between-the-legs move from Filip Forsberg that results in a good scoring chance.  Ultimately though, the second period ends without a change in score.

The Preds start the third with a really good chance, as Rocco Grimaldi makes a perfect pass to Craig Smith, who tips the puck juuuuuust wide of the net.

Mathieu Olivier then goes to the box for a high-sticking call on Kucherov that may have been a bit of an embellishment (why Olivier was on the ice to defend against Kucherov to begin with, well, your guess is as good as mine.)  Once again though, the Preds penalty kill stands strong.  Special teams hasn’t exactly been a strong suit lately, but I though the PK unit really stepped up tonight and limited Tampa’s chances.

The Preds then get a power play chance off an ugly headshot from Erik Cernak (oh don’t worry, we’ll talk about that in a second).  On the man advantage, Mattias Ekholm feeds Turris, who one-times a shot past Vasilevskiy from the left circle.  The Preds tie the game at 2.  The Preds’ reaction to the goal says it all.

Both the Predators and Lightning get some good chances in the last stretch of regulation, but both Rinne and Vasilevskiy shut the door.  Rinne, in particular, was outstanding during this stretch.  Other than that second goal, this was another really strong game from #35.

We get a couple of minutes into overtime, when Steven Stamkos throws a puck towards net.  Kucherov beats Grimaldi to the net and tips the puck past Rinne.  The Lightning take the win 3-2.

Random Takeaways

  • I always wish the Preds played more games on national TV.  Then after five minutes of Jeremy Roenick and Pierre McGuire I lose the desire to feel feelings.
  • Look… I don’t like to discuss officiating in these recaps.  I get that hockey’s a fast game, and there’s a lot that can happen in the blink of an eye.  But please, someone explain to me why this…./

…got a two-minute minor, while this….

…got a five-minute major and an ejection.

To be clear, I’m not trying to minimize Johansen’s penalty.  Contact with an opponent’s head is something that needs to be taken seriously, regardless of intent.  And as Caroline pointed out, if you’re going by the rulebook, five and a game was the right call.

But I don’t understand how this same officiating crew can watch the Cernak play — which happened CLOSER to a referee than the Johansen penalty — and not determine that hit was equally, if not more, egregious.

I’m sure the Department of Player Safety will take a closer look at both plays, but this kind of stuff needs to be addressed during the game.  Take an extra minute to review the call upstairs and get the call right.  Take Cernak out of the game, let tempers cool a bit, and you avoid the chance of any further shenanigans happening during the game.

  • Tonight’s another instance in which the Preds got plenty of shots towards the net, they just weren’t exactly the best quality./

You can see a few chances came from deflections and rebounds right in front of the net.  But other than that, most of their shots came from lower-danger areas.  The Preds wound up with just .028 xG per shot attempt at 5-v-5, not exactly a shining beacon of quality.

  • It’s Rusev Day in Smashville
  • #FreeTheShotCounter/

OTF’s Super-Duper Stars of the Game

3. Pekka Rinne: Two strong outings in a row for #35

2. The Preds’ Penalty Killing Unit: The five-minute kill stole the show, but they were solid all through the night.

1. Kyle Turris: A goal and an assist in his return to the ice. Welcome back, indeed.

What’s Next?

The Predators have three days off before they host the Devils and a certain beloved defender at Bridgestone Arena.  Puck drop for that one’s at 7:00 P.M. CST.

The Lightning return to central Florida this Thursday for a matchup with the Minnesota Wild.

Tweets O’ The Night

Game Highlights