Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Game Recap: Predators Defeat Flyers 4-3 In Shootout

Coach Barry Trotz Postgame Comments

Pekka Rinne, Jered Smithson, Steve Sullivan and Jason Arnott Post Game Comments

Coach Peter Laviolette, Danny Briere, Chris Pronger, and Brian Boucher post game comments

The Nashville Predators were not at their best , but managed to beat the Philadelphia Flyers in a shoot out in a hard fought, physical contest on Tuesday night at the Bridgestone Arena.

Martin Erat had the game winner in the shoot out to clinch the victory for the Preds. The Predators also got goals in regulation from Steve Sullivan, Jered Smithson and Erat.

Pekka Rinne was the uncontested first star of the game, stopping 42 of 45 Flyers shots plus all three attempts in the shootout.

Jeff Carter, Simon Gagne and Chis Pronger had goals for the Flyers while Danny Briere added two assists.

Michael Leighton started the game for the Flyers and gave up two goals on five shots before leaving with what appeared to be a lower body injury 9:45 into the game. Brian Boucher came on in relief and stopped 24 of 25 Predator shot and took the overtime loss.

Scoring Recap...

The Flyers took an early lead in the first period at 1:21 when there was a breakdown in the Preds defense around the net allowing Jeff Carter to get the game's first goal.

The Predators came back quickly at 4:33, when Steve Sullivan scored on an odd play where Michael Leighton stopped the puck but it was loose in the blue ice behind him and Sully jumped on it to tie the game 1-1. Sullivan said that he and the official were the only folks on the ice that actually saw the puck behind the goalie.

At 7:04, Marty Erat put the Predators ahead 2-1 on a play where Jason Arnott and Dan Hamhuis assisted..

Leighton was removed from the game after an odd fall at 9:45 and Boucher entered the game. Twenty seconds later, Jerred Smithson gave Boucher a rude welcome with is ninth goal of the year.

That was the end of the scoring until 11:14 in the third period when Simon Gagne got the puck past Rinne to cut the Predator lead to 3-2.

Dan Hamhuis was called for a delay of game at 12:43 when he knocked the net loose from its moorings. On the ensuing power play, Mike Richards found Chis Pronger wide open in the slot and he buriedthe puck past Rinne to tie the game.

The game remained scoreless through the overtime period and Marty Erat was the only scorer in the shoot out to end the game on a winning note for the Predators.

Storylines From The Game

Pekka Was ImPekkable (Brandon Felder's term)...

The Predators never would have been in the game had it not been for the stellar play of goaltender Pekka Rinne. An entire highlight reel of plays could have been put together from the many saves he made from the pesky Flyer team.

During the first period alone, when the Preds were not at their best, Rinne stopped 16 of 17 Flyer shots and the one goal was not of his making. In one sequence he made three saves in a row, all at odd angles as he recovered from the prior shot.

Chris Pronger of the Flyers took notice of Rinne's play, "He made good stops. We probably didn't get as much traffic in front of him as we would like. He did a great job of keeping his site on the pucks."

Barry Trotz was more adamant in saying, "Pekka was the number one star, no question about that."

Pekka was pleased with his performance and the roll he has been on, winning three straight and taking the NHL third star of the week on Monday. "It felt good. I felt like I was seeing the puck really well. They shot the puck a lot and that gets you into the game. The game kind of gets easier and slows down in front of you. I like that feeling."

Predators Won on a Night When They Were Sluggish...

The Flyers played an incredibly physical game and managed to clog up the neutral zone for most of the game. Their excellent forechecking made attempts to dump the puck into the Flyers zone a risky venture. The Flyers had more energy early in the game a nd took advantage of the Predators sluggishness.

Barry Trotz explained the team's dilemma, "We’ve played a lot of games, had a lot of travel. There wasn’t a lot of juice on our bench today. Guys were trying, but there wasn’t a lot of pop."

Trotz continued, "I knew it was going to be a tough game coming in, coming off that road trip. Emotionally, I don’t want to say exhausting, but it was challenging. Today was a big challenge against a team that is obviously playing with some desperation."

Predators Move One Step Closer to a Playoff Berth...

Pekka Rinne indicated that the Preds are still looking to move up and not just hang on to their position, "You look at the standings and there are many teams within five points. It’s still our goal to catch up and we know if we keep going like this, we can do well. Those two points are really important."

The Predators win moved them to 83 points and closer to the teams ahead of them. Los Angeles was idle on Tuesday and is sitting at 85 points in sixth place with two games in hand. Colorado is one point ahead of L.A. with only a game in hand.

Looking in the other direction, Detroit is three back in eighth with one game in hand and Calgary is now six back, also with a game in hand.

Up Next...

The Predators continue their homestand on Thursday night against the Minnesota Wild and will be looking for two more points to move closer to clinching a playoff spot.

More Later...

Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

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