Saturday, February 13, 2010

Game Recap: Devils Overwhelm Preds in 5-2 Win

The Nashville Predators struggled to stay even with the New Jersey Devils for two periods and then appeared to run out of gas as the Devils poured on the offense with three goals in the third period to take a 5-2 win and break their three game losing streak.

The tide appeared to turn when Ilya Kovalchuk scored his first goal as a Devil at 8:24 in the third period. The goal was the game winner and the ice was showered with hats as the crowd was overwhelmed with excitement for Kovalchuk's first tally as a Devil.

Zach Parise scored five minutes later and Jamie Langenbrunner added the empty netter to drive home the point that the Devils were clearly the better team on Friday night. Travis Zajac and Patrik Elias scored the first two goals for the Devs.

The Predators offense was supplied by goals from Cal O'Reilly and Jordin Tootoo.

Martin Brodeur stopped 19 of 21 Predator shots for the win while Pekka Rinne did not have his best night, stopping 23 of 27 New Jersey shots.

Game Narrative...

The game started with plenty of pressure on Pred's goalie Pekka Rinne with Ilya Kovalchuk ringing a shot off the pipes 90 seconds into the game. At the first TV time out 8 1/2 minutes in, the Devils were leading in shots 7-1.

The Devils struck first when the Pred's defense fell completely apart in front of Rinne and let Travis Zajac have a shot at an open net from Rinne's off side. Jordon Tootoo not only did nothing to stop Zajac, he completely took Ryan Suter out of the play.

The Predators continued down the recent path of undisciplined play with back to back penalties, first with Francis Bouillon hooking Vladimir Zharkov at 10:23 and then Dan Hamhuis hooking Zubrus at 10:57 to give the Devils 1:26 of five on three advantage. The Devils got two shots and the Preds penalty kill held firm on the five on three for the first time in three games.

The Preds went on their first power play at 16:35 when Dainus Zubrus was called for tripping. At 18:30 Cal O'Reilly was positioned in the slot and took a pass from Colin Wilson and wristed it past Marty Brodeur for a power play goal to tie the game 1-1.

The Devils missed a great opportunity to take the lead with 26 seconds left when Patrik Elias got behind the Predator defense on a breakaway that Rinne was able to handle.

For the first period, The Devils out shot the Preds 13-7. The Corsi margin was wider at 20- 11. The Predators were fortunate to escape the Devil's pressure with the score tied.

Forty six seconds into the second period, Jordin Tootoo fired a wrist shot from the blue line that got past Brodeur to give the Predators a 2-1 lead.

The Devils came back at 2:30 when Elias fired a slap shot past Rinne for a goal that Pekka should have been able to control.

David Legwand was called for interference at 3:53 on an unusual call as the Preds were on an offensive move toward the Devil's net. With 23 seconds left in the penalty, Zubrus was called for a phantom goaltender interference call. The Preds got a short handed shot but nothing on the power play during this sequence.

Jordin Tootoo drew a penalty at 12:52 on a slew foot from Colin White that was officially called a holding penalty.The Preds only got one shot during the man advantage.

The Predators out shot the Devils 9-5 in the second period. The Preds were also up on the Corsi numbers 13-10.

Play was even in the third period until the 3:50 mark when David Legwand was called for high sticking Marty Brodeur. The Devils got two shots on the man advantage.

Another Predator's defensive lapse at 8:24 left Ilya Kovalchuk wide open in the high slot as he took a pass from Elias and Kovalchuk blew it past Pekka Rinne for his first goal as a Devil and put the Devils ahead 3-2.

In an oddity, hats came flying on to the ice after Kovalchuk's goal. On Twitter Michelle Kenneth said it was in celebration of Kovi's first goal. Steve Lepore added that it was hat night and that folks were happy with the recent losses and were pleased to be in the lead.

At 11:53, Dan Hamhuis was called for tripping. On the New Jersey power play, at 13:08, Zach Parise picked up a fluke rebound off of Shea Weber's skate and he put it in the net passed a confused Rinne.

Mike Mottau was called for slashing at 15:27 to give the Preds one last chance to get back into the game but the Preds were unable to convert on the power play.

At 18:36, Pekka Rinne was pulled to give the Preds an extra attacker but only managed one shot and gave Jamie Langenbrunner an empty net goal with 42 seconds left to bring an end to the contest.

The Predators mounted a poor effort in the third period as the Devils defense clamped down one they went ahead and were out shot by the Devils 8-5.

Storylines from the Game

Too Much Devils, Not Enough Predators...

From the opening puck drop, the Predators appeared to be behind the eight-ball as New Jersey had more jump and appeared much better prepared for the night's effort. It was clear that New Jersey was not going to lose their fourth game in a row and were out playing the Preds at both ends of the ice.

The Predators were fortunate to be tied at the end of the second period as they never appeared to be fully in sync for the better part of the game. In the final period, the Preds appeared to give out of gas as the Devils found another gear down the stretch that the Preds did not have in them.

Predator Leaders Were Not the Best Players...

The only Predator offense came from the second and third lines. for the evening, Jason Arnott was -3, and Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, Steve Sullivan and Patric Hornqvist were all -2 which is indicative of the struggles that the better players were having during the game.

Poor Defense and Goaltending...

There were numerous lapses on defense and goaltending from Pekka Rinne that was not good enough to make the Preds competitive on a night in which the Devils were playing like a team on a mission.

The Devil's first goal was scored on a blunder by Tootoo that basically cleared the net for Travis Zajac to shoot at the empty side of the net. The Devil's second goal was one that Rinne should have handled but appeared clueless to stop.

Kovalchuk's goal came when he eluded the Pred defenders for an open shot from the high slot. The fourth goal was a bit of a fluke play that happens to teams when things are headed in the wrong direction.

Up Next...

The Predators have one final game in Pittsburgh on Sunday afternoon before taking off a couple of weeks for the Olympics. Nashville is fortunate to still be in seventh place in the Western Conference after their recent 3-7-2 run. The Preds are desperate for a win against the defending Stanley Cup Champions in order to hang in the top eight as they head into the break.

More Later...

Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

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