Saturday, March 7, 2009

Predator's Streak Ends in Philly

As all good things must come to an end, the Philadelphia Flyers ended the Nashville Predators six game win streak Saturday night by a 4-1 score.

Joffery Lupul made the Predators wish that the rumored deals that would have brought him to Nashville at the trade deadline had been true. Lupul scored the Flyers second and third goals to seal the victory. The Flyer’s first goal came on a power play at the 45-second mark in the second period on a shot by Mike Richards. The Preds had killed 19 straight power plays before the Richards tally. The final icing on the cake came on a goal with less than four minutes left in the contest by Claude Giroux.

The Predators only score was on a goal by Marty Erat at 7:45 in the third. Unfortunately, Lupul’s second goal came a minute later to dampen any enthusiasm generated by the Erat’s effort. The Preds actually out shot the Flyers 32-26 on the evening primarily due to a 18-6 advantage in the second period.

The Predators skated well in the scoreless first period but never seemed to have the same rhythm going that they have had in recent games. Back to back fights in the second stanza, first by Greg DeVris and Dan Carcillo and then by Wade Belak and Riley Cote did little to spark the team. The fisticuffs were generated by an odd hit on Kevin Kline at the rear boards as he was falling to the ice.

Pekka Rinne’s goaltending was the main highlight of the night for the Predators in spite of his letting in four goals on 26 shots. He made many more stops that could have easily let the game get out of hand much earlier.

The bottom line was that the Predators caught a hot goaltender in Marty Biron and a Philadelphia team in desperate need of a win on the wrong night. In spite of the positive vibes generated by the streak, the reality was that the Flyers were better prepared to compete and it showed up in the goal column. The Predators played undisciplined hockey, racking up seven minor penalties, and left Pekka hung out to dry with no one between the puck and the goal on several occasions.

The Predators remain at 70 points but dropped from sixth to ninth by virtue of the fact that Columbus drilled the Wings 8-2 and Edmonton and Dallas who are also at 70 points now have played one less game.

The Predators return home for games against Eastern conference teams Washington and New York (Rangers), before heading to the west coast for a four game road trip. Hopefully, the loss to Philly will serve as a reality check before the road trip against Western Conference opponents where four point swings in the standings are possible.

Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

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