Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Predators Slip Past Avs in OT to Extend Streak

The Nashville Predators extended their winning streak with a 4-3 overtime victory over the Colorado Avalanche in Denver on Wednesday night.

David Legwand had the game winning goal at 3:07 in the extra period when he fired a blind shot at the Colorado net that crawled over Craig Anderson s leg pad and trickled over the goal line clinching the Predators seventh win in a row.

The game like three separate mini-games, completely different each period. The Preds started the game like gangbusters, completely dominating the Avs. For the third game in a row, the Preds appeared to take a period off during the second which was all Avalanche. The third period was played very close to the vest by both teams. The Preds returned to form in the overtime out-shooting the Avs 4-0 to clinch the victory.

In the first period, the Predators stated with a lot of jump, controlling the puck and keeping the Avs defense on their heels. The Preds aggressiveness forced a Brett Clark interference penalty at 2:11 in the first period.

On the ensuing power play, Shea Weber fed a cross ice pass to J. P. Dumont who put the puck past Av's goalie, Craig Anderson to give the Preds a 1-0 lead at 3:00 in the first.

The Preds continued the pressure and at 10:42 Jordin Tootoo fed a pass to Marty Erat who skated toward the Avs net, then kicked it back to Marcel Goc who put a shot past Anderson into the net.

For the period, the Predators completely dominated the Avalanche. The Preds out shot the Avs 10-3 and had an even more lopsided 22-6 margin in the Corsi numbers.

The Avalanche started the second period on the power play courtesy of a questionable cross-checking call against Marcel Goc at the end of the first period. The Avs doubled their shot total with three shots but could not convert. It was clear that adjustments were made during the intermission that would give the Avs a better second period.

At 3:39 in the second, Codey Franson let Ryan Wilson get past the Predators defense in the neutral zone to give hi a one on one opportunity against Pekka Rinne which he was able to place in the back of the net for his second goal of the season to pull the Avs within one.

At 11:28 Marty Erat caught Matt Duchene in the face with is stick giving the Avalanche a 4:00 double minor. 45 seconds into the penalty kill, a puck got away from Rinne and slid into the net but the officials ruled that it had been whistled dead.

Seconds later, Francis Bouillon failed to clear a puck from the defensive zone and it was picked up by David Jones who fed a cross ice pass to Milan Hejduk who blew it past Rinne to tie the game 2-2.

At 14:35 the Predators defense again failed to pick up Marek Svatos who had fed a pass to Chris Stewart who returned it to him directly in front of the Preds net where Svatos had the easy score.

The Predators continued to look out of sorts and Dan Hamhuis was called for a slashing call at 15:15 trying to stop another Avs break-away. At 16:40 Joel Ward stole the puck for a Preds short handed chance that seemed to change the momentum in favor of the Preds.

Svatos was called for interference on the next shift which put the Predators back on the power play. With less than two minutes left in the period, Jason Arnot fed to puck to Shea Weber who let loose a cannon shot from the blue line to even the game at 3-3.

The second period was everything that the first wasn't for the Avalanche. The Avs out shot the Preds 13-7 and were up 24-14 in the Corsi numbers.

The third period was a completely different style of play for both teams. Through 16 minutes there were only three shots for the period, two by the Avs and a single shot by the Preds.

The Preds had a good shot at scoring came at 13:01 on their first shot of the period when players from both teams converged in the Colorado blue ice for a scramble that was eventually whistled dead when the net became dislodged.

The Avs best chance at breaking the tie came at 18:45 when rookie Matt Duchene shook loose and put a point blank shot on Rinne that Pekka was able to stop.

For the remainder of the period, both teams seemed content to go to overtime. Shots were even for the period at six.

During the second and third period it became clear how the Avalanche got off to their incredible start to the season. Joe Sacco had the Avs believing in themselves and taking the play directly to their opponents.

The Predators seemed to come alive again in the overtime period. 51 seconds into the period, Steve Sullivan almost won the game with a point blank shot on Anderson that required an incredible save to prolong the action.

The final shot for the Predators was a result of all four Pred players working the puck around the net and creating traffic around Anderson that created the opportunity for Legwand's wrister to have a chance to go in.

Pekka Rinne played well enough in goal stopping 19 of 22 Colorado shots. The win was Rinne's seventh in a row tying Tomas Vokoun's Preds record of a pair of seven game win streaks.

The Predators continued their power play streak, extending it to six games with a two of three effort against the Avs. They are now 10 of 27 in the last six games and are now 12-0 in games where they scored on the man advantage.

Surprisingly, considering the altitude, the Predators energy line of Patric Hornqvist, Mike Santorelli and Andreas Thuresson all played less than six minutes. Kevin Klein was the ice time leader at 25:04 as Barry Trotz has become more comfortable with his protection of the puck.

Another odd bit of trivia is that the win was the first time in seven tries that the Preds had won the game after a victory over Detroit in the prior game. As I wrote earlier this week, the game against the Jackets last Saturday was more of a hangover game than the Detroit game would produce.

The win moved the Predators into fifth place in the Western Conference, three games behind Central Division leader, Chicago, pending the outcome of other games.

The Preds left immediately after the game as they fly back to Nashville to play three games in four nights starting Friday against the Blues who won in overtime in Dallas on Wednesday.

More Later...

Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

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