Thursday, March 17, 2011

Predators Have Luck of the Irish in 4-3 Overtime Win over Boston

The Nashville Predators pretended to all be Irish in the pre-game skate, donning green jerseys with each player's name altered to be Irish-like. You had players like O'Tootoo and MacKostitsyn skating in honor of St. Patrick's Day. Shane O'Brien was the only one to go with his real name.

The Irish hockey gods must have liked what they saw as they smiled on the Predators in their 4-3 overtime win over the Boston Bruins. Shea Weber's power play bomb from the blue line with 1:27 left in extra play gave Nashville their first overtime win of the season.

"It was a great pass and I had a little time to step into it and a pretty good lane to shoot through," as Weber described the shot.

"It was a big power play goal in overtime." said Barry Trotz. "The right guy got it too. Webs has ben a rock back there. They moved around real well and Sutes got it and let that big bomb go."

Sergei Kostitsyn, Colin Wilson, and David Legwand also scored for the Predators in regulation in a game where they came from behind in the final period to force overtime. Boston's goals came from Tyler Seguin, David Krejci, and Patrice Bergeron.

Fans were disappointed that the much anticipated match up between Vezina favorite Tim Thomas and contender Pekka Rinne did not happen. Rinne made the best of the situation by stopping 35 of 39 Boston shots in capturing the victory. Tuukka Rask took the loss for the Bruins, giving up four goals on 31 shots.

"Peks today was spectacular. He kept us in there all game and that's why I think he is a Vezina and a Hart candidate," declared Trotz.

Rinne said, "We've been trying to find a way and it's been a little up and down. Hopefully, from now on, we can turn these one goal games on to our side. We did a really good job in OT with the power play when it mattered they really stepped up."

The game started in a somewhat familiar fashion with Seguin picking up a quick goal early in the game at 1:50 in the first when the Preds gave up an odd man rush with Jon Blum in the middle of Seguin and Chris Kelly. Seguin kept the puck and put it past Rinne as Blum was stuck in the middle.

The Predators came back to tie the game 1-1 at 7:53 when there was a scramble in front of the Bruins net and Wilson nudged the puck to Kostitsyn who put it past Rask for the score.

As the first period wound down, Patrick Hornqvist received a five minute elbowing penalty and a game misconduct that was a somewhat controversial call that probably would not have been made if similar hits had not been place under the microscope at the NHL General Manager's meetings that ended yesterday.

Trotz explained what he saw on the play, "At first you look at it and the referee says I saw his elbow out and he made contact with the head. When I watched it on the replay, it looked like Hornqvist had his elbow out and as he goes to Sequin, he brings his elbow in and puts the brakes on and sort of turns so when I looked at it I didn't really think it was a penalty."

The Predators did get a boost in confidence from killing off the five minute power play that was divided equally over two periods.

The Predators took the lead at 10:59 in the second when Wilson wristed the puck past Rask from the right face off circle. It was Wilson's second goal in sixteen games. "I needed that one. It's was a really nice pass from Blummer and a good bounce and I was really excited to see it go past him," said Wilson after the game.

The lead vanished 2:34 later when Krejci picked up a loose puck on a rebound and tied the game 2-2.

As the third period got underway, at 1:42, Boston re-took the lead on a shot from the slot from Bergeron that got past Blum as well as Rinne to give the Bruins a 3-2 advantage.

The Predators came back to tie the game once again at 10:56 when they fired three consecutive point blank shots at Rask. After Erat and Kostitsyn failed, the third time was the charm as Legwand was able to lift the puck into the net to tie the game 3-3 which sent the match into overtime.

With 5:08 left in the game, the crowd of 16,839 responded to the Predators' effort with a huge TV time-out ovation that was as loud as it has been for a regular season game. Trotz commented, "You talk about inspiring, the crowd was fantastic tonight especially in the third when we were running on fumes and getting a little discouraged. We're going to need them Saturday night and then right to the bitter end."

At 2:59 into the overtime period Steven Kampfer was called for holding as he pulled down Mike Fisher in the corner of the Bruin's zone. After a Boston time out, the Predators took control and cycled the puck until they got it to Weber who was open in the high slot to deliver the game winner.

It was the Predators first overtime win of the season after six straight losses. "It's one of those thing that brings a little confidence when we go into overtime games in the future", said Rinne.

The win gave the Predators 82 points which was good for ninth in the Western Conference at the end of the night's action. They are a point behind Calgary, two behind Chicago and Dallas, and three back of Los Angeles.

The Preds face a tough back to back set this weekend with Detroit at the Bridgestone Arena on Saturday night and a game 21 hours later in Buffalo against the Sabres.

More Later...

Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

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