The Nashville Predators got back into the win column with a 3-2 victory over the New York Islanders at Bridgestone Arena.
Pekka Rinne faced just 16 shots from the Islanders while Evgeni Nabokov was peppered with 31 shots from the Predators.
After a scoreless first period, Seth Jones scored his first goal in the NHL on the power play. Jones took a cross ice pass from David Legwand and beat Nabokov short side with a slap shot at 1:032 of the second period.
The Islanders tied the game at 12:39 of the second as Frans Nielsen was left alone cruising down the slot. He got a perfect pass from Kyle Okposo from behind the net and snapped a quick wrist shot over the shoulder of Rinne.
The Islanders were energized by that goal and began to press the attack. A turnover at the blue line had the Predators scrambling in the defensive zone. John Tavares tried to pass the puck, but it was blocked back to him behind the goal line. Tavares made a crafty play as he saw Rinne cheat off the post and he banked a shot off his backside and into the net to give the Islanders a 2-1 lead at 15:28.
With the period winding down, Patric Hornqvist took a chip off the wall from Colin Wilson and drove into the offensive zone. He cranked a slap shot from the face off circle that beat Nabokov five hole to tie the game at 2 at 19:07 of the second.
Ryan Ellis notched the game winning goal at 3:23 of the third period on an innocent looking play. He took a pass from Matt Cullen and rifled a slap shot from the blue line that beat Nabokov over the shoulder.
Both teams traded some scoring opportunities in the remaining time, and the Predators were able to hold off the Islanders for their second win of the season.
•Victor Stalberg made his first appearance of the season, logging 12:20 of ice time. Stalberg showed good speed but looked tentative. Obviously, he has to gel with his line mates, and Predator fans hope that will happen quickly.
•Seth Jones looks remarkably poised for a 19 year old rookie. He had three shots on goal tonight, and as he gets more comfortable, I expect to see those shot totals go up. He has a good shot and as he gains confidence his scoring should increase.
•Kevin Klein and Mattias Ekholm are becoming a dependable and solid defensive pairing. Tonight, both were -1, but they have rarely been caught out of position and have demonstrated some good chemistry.
•Filip Forsberg is solid and will become a very good player for the Predators. However, for the second game in a row, Forsberg lost a player coming down the slot in the defensive zone and it cost the Predators a goal. His defensive play is not bad, but his momentary lapses have cost the team a goal in the last two games.
•The overall defensive effort tonight was good. Limiting a team that has dangerous offensive players to just 16 shots shows that this team is focused on their defensive effort. tonight, the total team effort shut down the attack of the Islanders, and this is the effort that the Predators have to have every game.
•Although he was held off the score sheet, I like the effort and energy that Mike Fisher is bringing to the ice. His physical play helped set the tone for the Predators tonight.
This team is still a work in progress. There are 8 players on the roster the either were not on the team last year or played a limited number of games. There are signs of chemistry and the talent is there to be successful, but it is going to take some games to begin to play at a high(er) level.
The quicker the better.
My three stars:
1. Seth Jones
2. Ryan Ellis
3. John Tavares
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.