Nashville Predators 4, Colorado Avalanche 3 (OT): Preds Blow Lead but Smith Seals the Deal

Things were ok, then great, then not so great, then terrible, then great again. Got that?

It had been an entire week since Nashville's penalty kill lost against Montreal. While Filip Forsberg, Shea Weber, Peter Laviolette, and Pekka Rinne's bobble head got to galavant all around Columbus for the weekend, the rest of the team probably didn't go anywhere nicer or do anything that was more fun.

For the first few minutes, the week off definitely showed on the ice for both teams. Passes weren't connecting, guys looked sluggish, and the overall quality of hockey left something to be desired. The Avalanche lit the lamp first, with Cody McLeod's fourth of the season. Then the Preds kicked it into high gear and left Colorado in the dust.

Thanks to Semyon Varlamov, the Avs didn't get run out the building. Nashville controlled almost the entire flow of the game, and went stretches with bombarding the Russian netminder with shots for several minutes. Roman Josi, Colin Wilson, and the Swedish Star all scored to top off an impressive showing to start the first game of the rest of the season.

Then some old habits kicked back in, and with about 30 seconds left in the game, Nick Holden knotted the game. The groans and eye rolls were audible throughout middle Tennessee. Thankfully, Mike Ribeiro's special meter was fully charged, and he hit the correct button combination to engage his Finishing Move: the prettiest sauce pass you'll ever see. Craig Smith caught it, powered up, and won the game in OT. *faints*

Random Observations

  • Nashville likes to lure teams into a false sense of security and let them score first. Usually, that's not a good thing, but the Preds have the third-best winning percentage in the entire NHL when letting up the first tally of the night. They were 13-9-2 coming into tonight. Make that 14-9-2, now.
  • Plenty of you were griping about all the Ryan Suter / Shea Weber best-friends-for-life jokes made throughout the weekend. I'm sure you all smiled to yourselves when Mr. 108.5 notched the primary assist with his current partner's goal. Ah, sweet, sweet familiarity.
  • Is Wilson signed yet? Now? How about now?
  • Nashville stock piled their ammo throughout the all-star break, it seems. That, or they were so influenced by cannonade in Columbus, they wanted to unleash one of their own. The Preds fired a whopping 71 (!) shots in Colorado's direction, and that may be a conservative estimate. WOI is probably still refreshing as I type this. The Avs mustered 33, which is even more impressive, just in a different way.
  • For the most part, Carter Hutton wasn't tested very much. Somehow, another terrible bouncing puck made it's way into the net, leading me to believe the dude is just cursed. Sure, the amount of people that are going to bitch and moan about how it was his fault the game went to overtime are going to be vast. And they may have a point. However, Nashville has spent so long as a team getting bailed out by its goaltender, maybe it's time their goaltender gets bailed out by his team. Just whisper to yourself, three more weeks.
  • Holy mother of sauces, Batman. Ribeiro's pass to Smith was in the air for so long, it had time to eat dinner and watch a movie. Ribs and Prince were locked in a virtual tie for the points lead at 41 when the overtime started, and it looks like one of them gets bragging rights for a couple of days.
  • Props to Smith for sealing the deal and making sure his team got the two points. Especially against a division foe, (with another one coming up next) those matter.

So the second half starts with a bang, and we hope the old habit of blowing leads is maybe some muscle memory or something, left over from the break. With St. Louis knocking at the door on Thursday (along with a rematch against Colorado immediately after) the team can't afford to let things like that happen.

OTF's Super Duper Stars of the Game

  • Semyon Varlamov

Twitter Exchange of the Night

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p>Nashville is also 12-1-2 when tied after 2 periods. <a href="">#Preds</a> <a href="">#Avs</a></p>&mdash; Thomas Willis (@TomAWillis) <a href="">January 28, 2015</a></blockquote>

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p><a href="">@OnTheForecheck</a> 5-2-1 on Tuesdays the past 2 months. 1-0-0 on Tuesdays with a temperature of 30º in Nashville, the 9-2 win over the Leafs.</p>&mdash; Thomas Willis (@TomAWillis) <a href="">January 28, 2015</a></blockquote>

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Dear Preds, give that man a raise.

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