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Nashville Predators 5, Philadelphia Flyers 4: Preds bounce back

After a two-game skid out west, the Nashville Predators returned home to Bridgestone Arena to try and right the ship against the Philadelphia Flyers. Despite recent record-setting performances from players Filip Forsberg, Roman Josi, and Matt Duchene, the Predators started their last two games slowly and weren’t really competitive in those matchups.

The last time these two teams faced off, Philadelphia stunned the Nashville Predators by winning the game 5-4 in an emotional last outing for Flyers legend Clause Giroux before the trade deadline. Since that match up, the Flyers are 2-3 with wins over the New York Islanders and St. Louis Blues.

The Predators roster received a defensive tune-up with the return of Matt Benning and the call-up of Jeremy Davies. New dad Tanner Jeannot returned to the line up for tonight’s game after missing the game in Las Vegas for the birth of his first child. The Predators needed a strong performance to get back to the style of play that brought them success.

Period One

Despite an initial flurry of offensive pressure for Nashville, the scoring started in a painfully familiar way with a turnover in the defensive zone and a quick goal for the Flyers’ Travis Sandheim from the high slot at 2:15.

The Flyers kept their forecheck active and pressured defensively. The Predators had a few looks but weren’t able to find the back of the net through the first half of the period. Nashville gained the man advantage on a tripping call against Cam Atkinson at 14:07. The Predators’ power play went to work, but neither the first or second unit was able to score.

The Flyers bookended the first period with goals as Joel Farabee pushed the puck past Juuse Saros at 17:27.

Philadelphia continued to pressure Nashville in the neutral zone through the final minutes of the period. Even though the Preds led 14-4 in shots on goal, they headed into the first intermission down 2-0.

Period Two

The second period started much better for Nashville as Yakov Trenin tipped in a point shot from Roman Josi at just :44. The goal extended Josi’s point streak to thirteen games.

Any momentum from the Predators’ first goal was quickly cut short by a breakaway goal by Max Willman at 2:23.

Nashville was afforded a chance to regain control of the game when Hayden Hodgson was called for a cross check at 4:00. The Predators had several looks on the man advantage but again didn’t convert.

Yakov Trenin scored his second goal of the period on a two-on-one with Mikael Granlund, who lifted a pass over the sliding defender to a waiting Trenin at 7:26, bringing the Predators within one goal.

Just :46 seconds later, Granlund earned his second assist of the game on a pass to Luke Kunin. Kunin has been snakebit lately, going fifteen games without a goal before scoring from the slot at 8:12. The Predators tied the game 3-3.

Alexandre Carrier headed to the penalty box on an interference call at 15:29. The Flyers pressured Saros in front of the net briefly, but the Predators were able to kill the two-minute penalty and return to five a side.

Carrier redeemed himself from the penalty call by putting the puck on net from the point, and Filip Forsberg tipped the puck past Martin Jones to give the Predators their first lead of the game at 18:13.

That lead was short-lived, as James Van Riemsdyk evened the game at four with a wide-open shot with less than a minute in the period.

Period Three

The final period started with a fight between Tanner Jeannot and Hayden Hodgson which left Hodgson bleeding and both players serving five minutes for fighting.

The first ten minutes of the period went back and forth with possession. Nashville had a good chance on a misplayed puck by Jones, but the puck didn’t entirely cross the goal line, and then Philly got a chance when Jeremy Lauzon fell down in the defensive zone, resulting in a two on one that was handled solidly by Saros.

The Predators had a beautiful chance on a two-on-one with Johansen and Forsberg, but Forsberg couldn’t find the back of the net. The Flyers’ forecheck kept pressure on the Predators as they tried to exit the defensive zone, but Nashville was able to contain any damage.

The game remained tied until  Tanner Jeannot scored at 18:41, giving the Predators the go-ahead goal and earning himself a Gordie Howe hat trick. The pass came from Roman Josi, giving him his second assist of the night.

The Predators earned an important two points in a competitive Western conference. Nashville will face the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night and will look to earn another two points.

Three Things:

  1. Start as you mean to go on. The Predators have gone down early in recent games and haven’t always been able to climb back into the game. Tonight was a nice change. The team needs to find a way to spark a hot start from the first puck drop in their games going forward.
  2. Nashville got a taste of their own medicine. The Flyers were heavy on the forecheck this game, which is the game plan that has brought the Predators success when they’ve execute it cleanly in other games. It is easy to see why this style of play frustrates opponents, as Nashville saw tonight.
  3. A rough win is still worth two points. This was not the Predators’ best bounce-back effort, but the team didn’t panic and was able to get back in the win column.

Talking Points