The Nashville Predators played a much slower paced game against the Toronto Maple Leafs than the one on Tuesday against Washington, but the result was the same, a win. This time it was 4-1 as the team improved their record to 10-5-3 and the third highest point total in the Western Conference at 23.
Unlike the game with the Caps which was sixty minutes of high speed end to end action, Thursday's game was slower, more strategic, and somewhat disjointed during the opening period.
Coach Barry Trotz agreed that the game was different. "There is a feeling out process when you don't see the other team a lot of times and you don't get a feel for them. We talked about how fast their forwards are and how their defensemen are extremely active in the offensive zone. They'll have five guys below the hash-marks in the offensive zone and no one at the point."
"Coming into this game, our game plan was pretty simple. If you play solid defense and shut down their big line and you contain their defenseman from their offense, you are going to get some chances. We were able to do that. All our goals came from counters, from playing good defense."
Trotz's focus was on patience against the Leafs which produces a slower paced game. "If you concentrate on taking care of business in your own end you will get counter two on ones and chipped pucks to the neutral zone and they'll be on bad coverage situations. We were patient, almost playing a little bit of a road game to counter Toronto's speed."
Pekka Rinne had another outstanding game and is off to the best start of his career. He improved his record to 10-4-3. "Every night I try to focus on stopping the puck and keeping it simple. I try not to get to into other teams and other players too much. I just try to focus on my own thing and it's working right now so it's something I don't want to change."
Rinne stopped 38 of 39 Leafs shots, with the only Leaf's goal coming at the midpoint of the second period by John-Michael Lyles.
Marty Erat was the offensive hero for the Predators, scoring two goals on four shots. Ryan Suter scored his fourth goal of the season and Matt Halischuk had the empty netter with 23 seconds left. Sergei Kostitsyn had three assists while Mike fisher added two helpers.
Rinne put a bow on the game, "It was a little bit different game. I thought at the beginning of the game, both teams didn't really have that much energy going on. After that we had a really good second period and obviously, they were really desperate in the third and played really good hockey and we had to play more defensively, and that was the storyline of the game."
The Predators will continue their home-stand on Saturday night against their division rival, the Columbus Blue Jackets. Game time is 7 p.m. and special POTG discount tickets are available for Columbus as well as all remaining games. Go here and use the offer code preds.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOntheGlass