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My Two Cents: The Nashville Predators race to a photo finish

 

My Two-Cents with Hank BonecutterClarksville, TN – The National Hockey League is racing to the finish line of their regular season schedule.  The “second” season begins next week with the start of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The Nashville Predators have a spot in those playoffs, yet as of this writing, we don’t know who or where they will play.  It doesn’t matter, because Predators fans are RABID about their team even though their play of late hasn’t been too consistent.

Nashville Predators center Rocco Grimaldi (23) and Montreal Canadiens left wing Paul Byron (41) battle for the puck in front of goaltender Juuse Saros (74) during the first period at Bell Centre. (Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports)

Nashville Predators center Rocco Grimaldi (23) and Montreal Canadiens left wing Paul Byron (41) battle for the puck in front of goaltender Juuse Saros (74) during the first period at Bell Centre. (Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports)

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Nashville Predators fall to the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-1

 

Nashville PredatorsNashville, TN – The Nashville Predators fell to the Pittsburgh Penguins, 2-1 in a Bridgestone Arena shoot-out, with Sidney Crosby proving to be the difference.

The Predators were pedaling uphill all night long chasing the game after a whirlwind start where they attacked the Pens in the opening frame of the contest.  Once again, the story of their season so far, they have no power play.

The two teams traded punches during the first period with plenty of opportunities for both teams, but both Pekka Rinne and Matt Murray stood tall in net for their respective teams to keep the game scoreless.

Nashville Predators right wing Wayne Simmonds (17) attempts a jump screen on a shot from the point against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the first period at Bridgestone Arena. (Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports)

Nashville Predators right wing Wayne Simmonds (17) attempts a jump screen on a shot from the point against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the first period at Bridgestone Arena. (Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports)

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Nashville Predators defeat Toronto Maple Leafs 3-0

 

Nashville PredatorsNashville, TN – The Nashville Predators had their way with the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs tonight, pitching a shutout, 3-0.  Newly acquired forward Wayne Simmonds scored his first goal as a Predator and Pekka Rinne stood tall in net, as Nashville shutout the Leafs for the second time this season.

Brian Boyle got things started for Nashville at 4:47 of the first period when he and Craig Smith pulled off the classic “give and go” to perfection, ripping the puck past Toronto goalie, Frederik Andersen for the early 1-0 lead.

Nashville would take that lead into the first intermission.

Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne (35) watches the puck behind Toronto Maple Leafs center Patrick Marleau (12) during the first period at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne (35) watches the puck behind Toronto Maple Leafs center Patrick Marleau (12) during the first period at Bridgestone Arena. (Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports)

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Nashville Predators down the Minnesota Wild 3-2 in shootout

 

Nashville PredatorsSt. Paul, MN – The Nashville Predators clawed their way back from a 2-1 deficit against the Minnesota Wild tonight to win the game, 3-2 in a shootout.

The two points Nashville picked up keeps them in touch with the Central Division leading Winnipeg Jets who beat Columbus 5-2 today.

Nashville faced several ex-Predators tonight with Kevin Fiala facing his former team, along with Anthony Bitetto, Ryan Suter and Pontus Aberg.  

The Predators brought former Minnesota sharp-shooter Mikael Granlund with them to face his former team as well. 

Nashville Predators right wing Viktor Arvidsson (33) shoots the puck against Minnesota Wild defenseman Ryan Suter (20) in the first period at Xcel Energy Center. (David Berding-USA TODAY Sports)

Nashville Predators right wing Viktor Arvidsson (33) shoots the puck against Minnesota Wild defenseman Ryan Suter (20) in the first period at Xcel Energy Center. (David Berding-USA TODAY Sports)

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Nashville Predators make trade deadline deals to shore up their run for the Stanley Cup

 

Nashville PredatorsNashville, TN – As the trade deadline loomed heavy on this day, just hours from being over for this NHL season, enter David Poile, the General Manager for this Nashville Predators franchise. 

Just in the last two weeks, he traded for Brian Boyle and Cody Mcleod, two hard hitting players whose roles would be to protect our stars and score when you can.

Nashville was excited to have Mcleod back in Nashville,  A very popular player when he was on the roster before, the music city hockey fans loved having him back.

Nashville Predators center Brian Boyle (11) celebrates after scoring the game winning goal in the shootout against the Edmonton Oilers at Bridgestone Arena. (Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports)

Nashville Predators center Brian Boyle (11) celebrates after scoring the game winning goal in the shootout against the Edmonton Oilers at Bridgestone Arena. (Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports)

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Nashville Predators drop second in a row to the St. Louis Blues 5-4

 

Nashville PredatorsNashville, TN – The Nashville Predators dropped the second game of a back-to-back series to the St. Louis Blues today, 5-4.  The only good thing about the game was their ability to come back to earn a point.

Nashville was fighting their way out of a wet paper bag the entire contest, and never led the game.  Viktor Arvidsson was the bright spot scoring twice in the loss.

Costly turnovers and sloppy puck management has been the order of the day for the Predators and with a week power play, it doesn’t bode well for a deep run into the Stanley Cup playoffs.

 Nashville Predators center Kyle Turris (8) battles for a loose puck behind St. Louis Blues goaltender Jake Allen (34) during the third period at Bridgestone Arena. (Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports)

Nashville Predators center Kyle Turris (8) battles for a loose puck behind St. Louis Blues goaltender Jake Allen (34) during the third period at Bridgestone Arena. (Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports)

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Nashville Predators end home losing streak by defeating the Arizona Coyotes 5-2

 

Nashville PredatorsNashville, TN – The Nashville Predators broke a three game home losing streak tonight by downing the visiting Arizona Coyotes, 5-2.  Nashville had to come from behind to do it.

Vinnie Hinostroza took a pass from Alex Goligoski in the slot and flipped a shot over the shoulder of Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne at 16:59 of the opening frame, for the early 1-0 lead.  This after the Predators dominated play from the outset but couldn’t score.

The period ended with the Coyotes taking the lead to the locker room, but you just knew that Nashville would storm out into the second period and take charge. 

Nashville Predators center Calle Jarnkrok (19) scores past Arizona Coyotes goaltender Calvin Pickard (30) during the third period at Bridgestone Arena. (Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports)

Nashville Predators center Calle Jarnkrok (19) scores past Arizona Coyotes goaltender Calvin Pickard (30) during the third period at Bridgestone Arena. (Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports)

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Nashville Predators defeat the Colorado Avalanche 4-1, Laviolette notches 600th

 

Nashville PredatorsDenver, CO– The Nashville Predators broke through with a much needed win today in the mile high city of Denver, Colorado, shutting down the Avalanche, 4-1.

Coming off of back to back losses, the Predators stood tall behind the unbelievable play of their Vicenza Trophy winning goalie, Pekka Rinne.

Rinne absolutely shut the Avalanche down in the first period and had it not been for his stellar play, Nashville could have easily been down 5-0.

Head coach Peter Laviolette had commented that he saw a lot of good things in his team over the last couple of games, but they needed to come better prepared to start the first period.  Nashville fell behind early in the last two games and couldn’t recover.

Jan 21, 2019; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche left wing J.T. Compher (37) attempts on Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne (35) in the second period at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Jan 21, 2019; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche left wing J.T. Compher (37) attempts on Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne (35) in the second period at the Pepsi Center.  Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

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Nashville Predators defeat the Philadelphia Flyers behind Juuse Saros shutout 4-0

 

Nashville PredatorsNashville, TN – The Nashville Predators dominated the Philadelphia Flyers tonight at Bridgestone Arena behind the shutout performance of Juuse Saros in goal, 4-0.

This was the second shutout of the season for Saros and was only his second start in two weeks.  Saros stopped all 32 shots on goal tonight and was named the first star of the game.

The two teams played a back and forth first period with no scoring before the intermission.  That all changed in the second period.

Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros (74) makes a save during the second period against the Philadelphia Flyers at Bridgestone Arena. (Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sport)

Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros (74) makes a save during the second period against the Philadelphia Flyers at Bridgestone Arena. (Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sport)

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Nashville Predators defeat the Washington Capitals 6-3

 

Nashville PredatorsWashington, D.C. – The Nashville Predators finally broke through with a win today, defeating the reigning Stanley Cup Champion, Washington Capitals, 6-3.

The Predators had been on a bit of a slide, losing their last six games, and the victory today could be a sign of better things to come. 

With their mothers in attendance, the Predators had an extra dose of motivation coming into today’s game. 

Washington got off to a quick start when Michal Kempny took the face off and whipped a wrist shot past Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne for the early 1-0 lead.  The score came at the 4:33 mark of the opening frame.

Nashville Predators center Rocco Grimaldi (23) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against the Washington Capitals during the first period at Capital One Arena. (Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports)

Nashville Predators center Rocco Grimaldi (23) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against the Washington Capitals during the first period at Capital One Arena. (Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports)

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