The Nashville Predators looked to rebound from a rough start in their season opening loss by getting right back on the ice against the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center. The Predators had Pekka Rinne in net while the Avalanche went with Semyon Varlomov.
Once again, the Predators opened the contest skating well and creating some chances in the offensive zone off their forecheck. Once again, though, the Predators were not able to finish their chances and were held off the board despite ten shots on goal.
The Predators gave up a late goal at 18:50 of the first period as the puck was batted around in the slot and P.A. Parenteau gathered in the rebound of a Rinne pad save and slid the puck inside the post for a 1-0 Avalanche lead. The scoring play was set up when Matt Hendricks collided violently with teammate Paul Gaustad in the offensive zone, leaving the Predators shorthanded in the defensive zone as both players struggled to get back to the bench for a change. Mattias Ekholm lost Parenteau, allowing him to slam the rebound past Rinne.
For the period, the Avs out shot the Predators 13-10.
The Predators offense struggled to get anything going in the second period as the Avs defense disrupted any flow and limited scoring chances. The Avs stepped up their forecheck and started to gain a territorial advantage over the Preds as the period unfolded.
The Predators failed to clear the zone and the Avs made them pay. Patrick Bordeleau re-directed a Nate Guenin shot from the point past Rinne at 7:54 of the period to make it 2-0.
The Predators lost defenseman Roman Josi near the 10 minute mark of the second period. The Avs Steve Downie took a blatant cheap shot, leaving his feet and launching himself at the head of Josi. Josi went to the locker room and was called out for the rest of the game with an upper body injury. The hope is that he is not concussed.
The Predators got on the board just as a power play expired. Mike Fisher carried the puck into the zone and flipped a pass into the slot. Paul Gaustad gathered in the pass a roofed a shot over the shoulder of Varlamov to make it 2-1 at 14:10 of the period.
The period ended with the Avs having a carryover power play. They out shot the Predators 12-7 in the second.
The Predators offense could not get untracked in the third period and did not create many quality scoring chances. The offensive rhythm was hampered by several penalties and general ineffectiveness. P.A. Parenteau iced the game for the Avs with his second goal of the game, an empty net goal that made the final score 3-1.
The Avs out shot the Predators 12-10 in the third period.
•Downie’s hit was a flagrant cheap shot. While there will be ample opportunity for retribution, the bigger concern is the health of Roman Josi. The concern is that the talented defenseman has suffered a concussion.
•I like the play of the grinders. They have shown the most jump and effectiveness in the first two games. Gaustad, Clune, and Nystrom in particular are disruptive but have shown some creativity in the offensive zone.
•Rinne looked better in this game, but part of that is attributable to the fact that the defense looked better in front of him. I continue to be impressed with the poise and presence of Seth Jones. Victor Bartley was sound in the defensive zone and Mattias Ekholm has been generally good. Ek did get beat on the Avs second goal, but generally played a sound if unspectacular game.
•The Predators need more- much more- out of Colin Wilson and Patric Hornqvist. They have been invisible in the first two games and they have to get their offensive game going.
This team has the potential to be a very solid team. It is going to take time for them to gel and get their confidence.
It can’t take too long.
It’s time to start stepping up.
My three stars:
1. P.A. Parenteau
2. Semyon Varlamov
3. Paul Gaustad
About the Author: A native Nashvillian that grew up with minor league hockey, I'm now a devoted Predators fan and NHL follower. I have had the privilege of allowing my children to grow up watching the Predators and seeing the joy on their face when they are at a game. By day, I am a partner in an independent investment management company in the Nashville area. I played collegiate football and graduated from the University of South Carolina and graduated from the LSU graduate School of Banking. So yes, there are real true southern hockey fans in these non-traditional markets.