Nashville Predators 4, Ottawa Senators 3 (SO): James Neal Powers Preds

Ok, Ottawa: I'll see your Canadian hockey team and raise you James Neal.

The Nashville Predators and the Ottawa Senators fought it out on Saturday night to a 3-3 tie. After they endured 5 minutes of 3-on-3 overtime insanity, the home crowd stuck around to watch James Neal end it for the Preds in the shoot-out.

The Predators actually gutted out a decent performance despite the usual mid-game snooze. Regular main-stays Roman Josi and Craig Smith dominated at their positions. Filip Forsberg made a defensive mistake, but still flashed incredible hockey skills throughout the game. And Carter Hutton played goaltender.

But the night belonged to James Neal, with two slick power-play goals and the game-winning shootout winner. He was simply stunning in this one, giving the Preds the scoring boost they needed.

Still not a 60 minute (or 65 minute, in this case) performance from the Preds, but a win we can be proud of. Gutsy. Gritty. Gorgeous.

Random Observations

  • In addition to the Fisher/Ribs swap still being in place, Lavy bumps Bourque up to the 3rd line with Hodgson and Jarnkrok. Early on, that line is very active. Forechecking well and providing good pressure on the Senators defense.
  • Craig Smith continues to play well. He pressures Jared Cowen on the blue-line, the puck squirts loose and Smith draws a penalty as Cowen had to hold him away from a breakaway on the boards. And the Preds make them pay! Beauitful power-play goal from James Neal, as he and Roman Josi swapped a few passes, leaving Neal wide open in front of Craig Andersen. Huge road goal early in this one.
  • Hutton with a huge double-save late in the 1st. The puck came free wide open in the slot and Hutton made the pad save on Curtis Lazar in traffic, lost his stick, then made the 2nd save off the rebound. Well done, Hutt!
  • Well, Ottawa can certainly score, as Mark Stone just did. Nothing Hutton could have done, as a quick pass from Turris found Stone right in front. A simple deke and it was wide open net. Forsberg lost his defensive assignment and left Stone wide open. Horrible start to the 2nd period, almost on cue.
  • Absolute textbook 2nd Period Napping going on right now. The Preds are really hitting their mid-game coma stride early this season. Turnovers, not skating well, weak clearances, getting pushed off the puck too easily... nothing going right at all.
  • A 3rd Line Super-Shift wakes up the team a bit. Great work by Bourque and Hodgson behind the net to generate some "offense" in the 2nd. But then Hutton lets in the go-ahead goal. Hoffman launches a fluttering shot from the blue-line and it flutters on in. Hutton gonna Hutton.
  • Tie game! Craig Smith roofs one by Craig Anderson, after getting an incredible pass ahead by Ribeiro. Smith gets his 3rd goal of the year and it came at an absolutely perfect time. After the Preds flubbed their way through 80% of that period, they come out the other end with a tie game and bit of momentum.
  • Preds finally get a furry of quality chances early in the 3rd. Neal with 2 point blank shots, Wilson and Weber each had a shot or two as well. Even had a 5-on-3 power-play for about 30 seconds. No goals though. Game is still tied. Preds will need more chances like that if they want any points out of this game.
  • The penalty-kill this year has been impressive. Very good at denying time and space.
  • JAMES. NEAL. Preds lead! A huge power-play goal by the Preds and a facsimile of the 1st one. Josi and Neal exchange places, Neal gets room by the net, wheels up, receives pass from Josi, slams home the go-ahead goal. BOOM.
  • Ellis down. Ryan Ellis is down. Took a puck to the knee. No.
  • Hoffman scores to tie the game from the blue-line again. This one was about 0.06% more difficult than the first one for Hutton to handle, so naturally it went in. Ughhh.
  • 3-on-3 OT is crazy bizarre. I'm not sure I like it... it just doesn't look like hockey yet. Players and coaches still trying to figure it out. Both teams looked tired and like they forgot how to play hockey. Senators had more chances. Preds had a late 4-on-3 power-play after Hutton got absolutely trucked.
  • Hutton ended up with 38 regulation/OT saves, but it felt like 38,000.
  • Shootout: Turris stopped (why are you always standing up too soon Hutt), Smith dekes and then stopped, Ryan scores, Forsberg scores (holy hell what a move), Hoffman stopped, and JAMES NEAL ENDS IT! WHOOOO

OTF Super Duper Stars Of The Game

  • James Neal: 2 power-play goals, game-winning shootout goal. The reason this man is on the team: to score goals when presented with chances. He did that tonight. Well, done HJN.
  • Craig Smith: got his 3rd tonight on a laser. Really hitting on all cylinders with that 2nd line.
  • Roman Josi: he just does EVERYTHING well. Incredible skating ability in the offensive zone (most obvious on both Neal goalsl) and great defensive work in almost 30 minutes of ice time. /

Was The Smashville App Correct?

Stilllll no. 0-5 now. Though wasn't Neal on an earlier version?

Tweets of the Game

Boxscore - Game Summary - Event Summary - War-on-Ice - HockeyStats - Natural Stat Trick

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