Nashville Predators 3, Vegas Golden Knights 2 (OT): Weary Preds eke out win
Kevin Lankinen put in some hard work to help a tired Preds team beat the Pacific's top seed tonight.
The Nashville Predators returned home tonight to face the Vegas Golden Knights in the second half of a back-to-back. Tonight's game was Pride Night, with jersey auctions (per the team site) benefiting the Oasis Center and the Nashville Tennessee Pride Chamber. On the ice and in the standings, Vegas was fighting to secure playoff positioning, while Nashville was trying to fight back into a wildcard spot.
The Knights got out to a good start, putting pressure on Kevin Lankinen, but the Preds were able to go back on the attack. Tommy Novak scored at 6:50 to get the Preds on the board, and the Knights' Brett Howden promptly took an OZ penalty to interrupt his own team's pushback and give the Preds a power play.
Nashville kept the zone and got some puck movement going, but were unable to convert. Another power play a few minutes later, however, very shortly gave Novak his second goal of the game at 13:08.
Vegas, however, then got a power play of their own, as Rasmus Asplund took a tripping penalty at 14:22. Fourteen seconds in, Ryan McDonagh high-sticked Ivan Barbashev, and the Knights got a long 5v3. The Preds' penalty killers got some clears, Kevin Lankinen made some massive saves, and the crowd was on their feet roaring as first Asplund and then McDonagh escaped the box.
The Preds went back on the attack, with Tyson Barrie initially appearing to score a goal on the next shift. Unfortunately, it was overturned for being a kick blatant enough that even Barrie on the ice knew it wouldn't count. Nashville was able to finish the period stronger, but not score again.
Six minutes into the second period, Alex Pietrangelo got the Knights on the board as the puck bounced in off Kevin Gravel. The Knights continued to attack, with Lankinen making several great saves on Jonathan Marchessault.
The Preds could have gotten a reprieve when Ivan Barbashev cleared the puck over the glass, but the Knights' penalty kill was aggressive and did a good job of clearing the zone and denying the Preds reentry. Reilly Smith got a good shorthanded try, and William Karlsson another, as the Preds completely failed to even make it into the OZ. Pietrangelo scored again to tie the game almost as soon as Barbashev was released, at 13:39.
Nashville managed to make it out the other side of the period without giving up another goal, but they weren't really able to get out of their own zone or make Jonathan Quick have to work. Towards the very end of the period they managed a few forays, but nothing sustained or threatening.
The third period was much of the same, with the Preds hemmed into their own zone and unable to get out to generate offense. It was over seven minutes before Quick even had to make a save--on Egor Afanasyev--and that didn't last for long. Later in the period, Afanasyev was trapped out on the ice with a broken stick while the Knights got what looked like a power play, with Lankinen unable to freeze the puck and the Preds unable to get a clear.
This went on for several minutes, until the net was knocked off its pegs as several players rushed it and Lankinen backed into the crossbar with the puck in the air. Lankinen was called for delay of game for doing it deliberately, a debatable call, and the Knights got a real power play.
The Preds were able to kill it off, and even managed a whisper of offense in the last couple of minutes, but headed to overtime still tied 2-2. Novak almost completed his hat trick a little over a minute in, but Quick was able to make the save. Jack Eichel then knocked Lankinen's net off the pegs again.
With a little over two minutes remaining in OT, Marchessault got called for hooking against Phil Tomasino, who almost managed to draw a second penalty before the first one had been tagged up. Cody Glass was able to score on the ensuing power play, giving the Preds the W.
We'll have some in-depth analysis of the game for you tomorrow!