Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Erat's Hat Trick Leads Preds to 4-2 Win Over Canucks

Coach Barry Trotz Post Game Comments

Martin Erat, Pekka Rinne and Jerred Smithson post game comments

Coach Alan Vigneault, Roberto Luongo, Henrik Sedin, and Shane O'Brien post game comments

The game between the Nashville Predators and the Vancouver Canucks turned into the Martin Erat show on Tuesday night at the Sommet Center. Erat scored three goals and assisted on Patric Hornqvist's goal to lead the Preds to a 4-2 victory.

The Predators played with enthusiasm and intensity that has been missing in recent outings and were able to score twice on the power play. Preds goalie Pekka Rinne play an outstanding game stopping 34 of 36 shots from the highly skilled Canuck lineup.

The game got off to a good start for the Predators with an an early goal by Martin Erat at 4:19 in the first period. The play started on a shot by Jason Arnott that went wide and Erat picked up the puck behind the Nucks net and did a half spin-a-rama wrap-around to bounce it in off of Roberto Luongo's left skate.

For the remainder of the opening stanza, the Predators skated well with more jump and enthusiasm than in recent games. The Preds out shot the Canucks 8-7 in the first period with a wider disparity in the Corsi shots of 24-12.

The Preds started the second period in similar fashion as Martin Erat got a power play goal on a break-away at 3:03 into the period. It was an excellent double-deke type move that found Luongo's five hole.

Four minutes later, play was stopped momentarily when Jerred Smithson was given a 5:00 charging penalty and a game misconduct for a hit on Alex Burrows near the Predators bench. Barry Trotz disputed the call which will ultimately be reviewed by the league offices.

At 8:30, during the Canucks resulting power play, Marty Erat had another breakaway opportunity for a shot at a short handed goal and a hat trick but was brought down by a hook from Christian Ehrhoff. The goal shortened the five minute man advantage for the Canucks.

With a second left in the Ehrhoff penalty, Patric Hornqvist was called for holding the stick giving the Canucks the remaining 1:48 of the Smithson penalty with a five on three advantage.

At 12:12, despite the efforts of Shea Weber to break up the play, Ryan Kessler had an unobstructed view of the empty side of the net and scored to give the Canucks a power play goal with five seconds left in the five on three opportunity. Kessler paid dearly as Weber finished his check as the puck entered the Preds net.

The second period ended with the Predators maintaining a 2-1 lead. The Canucks out shot the Preds 12-7 for the period in which the Preds dominated in the face off circle with a 14-8 advantage.

Vancouver started playing desperate hockey in the third period taking a series of three penalties that would be their undoing. Coach Alan Vigneault commented, "Without a doubt, you are down a goal and are trying to fight your way back into the game, taking three penalties in one period is not a smart thing to do so so obviously that really hurt us. They got two goals for the lead again and we were too late."

The Predators got on the board for the third time at 11:27 in the final period on a well executed two-pass play that started with Marty Erat's third point of the game on a cross ice pass to Jason Arnott who centered it to Patric Hornqvist who buried it from the blue ice.

The situation became tense at 16:25 when Vancouver executed a perfect screen in front of Rinne, and Daniel Sedin was able to slip a puck into the net from the slot to bring the Canucks within a goal.

With a couple of minutes left, Vancouver pulled Luongo, and at 18:54 Mary Erat skated for the red line, saw the empty net, and shot the puck cleanly into the cage to make it 4-2.

As the seconds ticked down, the crowd rose to a crescendo of cheers to celebrate a home victory which has been rare over the last ten days.

Game Storylines

Marty Erat has Career Game...

Marty Erat's second career hat trick (first was March 4, 2008) was enough offense to bring the Preds a victory. He also received an assist on Patric Hornqvist's goal that proved to be the game winner.

Marty was humble in his response to the hat trick saying, "It's always nice to get a hat trick but how I said from the beginning we got two points and that is the most important thing right now."

Pekka Rinne Solid in Net...

Although the stats are not overwhelmingly impressive, Pekka Rinne may have had one of his best games of the year stopping 34 of 36 shots from one of the most explosive offenses in the league. Many stops were at point blank range.

The Kessler goal was a backdoor play that could not be stopped and the Sedin goal was on a complete screen.

"Pekka, I thought was really outstanding," said Barry Trotz. "Big save on the five on three. He was solid, they tried to put a lot of pucks in the crease, they screened they bumped him, they did all the usual Vancouver Canuck things that hey do and he was huge tonight."

Horrible Call on the Jerred Smithson Game Misconduct...

NHL officials are very cognizant of head shots and are trying diligently to remove them from the game. On Jerred Snithson's hit on Alex Burrows, they totally missed the boat. At worst, it should have been a 2 minute boarding call and could have even gone the other way and gone as a diving call on the over reacting Burrows.

Barry Trotz was livid after the call. In the post game, he was more reflective, "I had the luxury of looking at it on film. The two things that the referees said to me was that obviously they are cracking down on hits to the head which I am totally behind, and they thought it was a little bit of a late hit. It wasn't a late hit. Burrows had the puck on his stick, and he tried to duck the hit and if you look at Smithson's arms, they are right by his side. It was a shoulder hit and Burrows kind of spun off and tried to avoid it. He ducked it and for Smitty, it was a real clean hit."

Further Trotz said, "The referees were real good, they said if we're wrong we will look at it and apologize but that's how we see it at that time and place. They have a tough job."

Smithson explained his thoughts, "I went in and tried to finish my check and he went in funny, I'm not quite sure, but the were calling it a head shot and then I watched the replay and watched him (Burrows) kinda look up to see if there was a call then he laid there but that's how it is. Maybe the refs saw it from a different angle but there's nothing you can do about it."

From my vantage point, it did not look like a solid hit. Smithson responded to the question, "I really didn't feel like I got him all. I just wanted to get a piece of him and continue on on the back check. He just kind of went into the boards funny and obviously wasn't too banged up as he was right back out there after a few shifts. There's nothing you can do. Stuff happens."

It will be interesting to see what Colin Campbell comes up with on Wednesday after they take another look at the play. Anything short of a recension will be a travesty.

Up Next...

The Predators will practice on Wednesday to prepare for back to back Central Division match ups with Columbus on Thursday and Detroit on Saturday.

More Later....

Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

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