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Nashville Predators drop the Buffalo Sabres 3-2, move back into a tie for Central Division lead

 

Nashville PredatorsBuffalo, NY – The Nashville Predators move back atop the central division with a win tonight against the Buffalo Sabres, 3-2.

Ryan Johansen scored the game winner and the Predators now sit atop the division, tied with the Winnipeg Jets in what looks to be a real dogfight to the finish, with two games remaining on the schedule. 

At presstime, the Jets were trailing the Minnesota Wild, 4-1.  The Nashville win puts them two points up on the St. Louis Blues who have been breathing down Nashville’s back for the last week.

Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne (35) looks to make a save during the second period against the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center. (Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports)

Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne (35) looks to make a save during the second period against the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center. (Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports)

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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 downed by Columbus Blue Jackets 5-2

 

Nashville PredatorsNashville, TN – The Nashville Predators were thumped by the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight in Nashville, 5-2.  Columbus is fighting for a spot in the playoffs and played like their hockey lives depended on it tonight.

Scoring just fifty seconds into the contest, the Blue Jackets set the tone early and went on to dominate the Predators on their home ice.

Nashville is still tied with the Winnipeg Jets for first place in the central division of the Western Conference, but the St. Louis Blues posted a win tonight and inch to within two points of the leaders.  The final week of the regular season is going to be a doozy. 

Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi (59) passes the puck from behind his net during the first period against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Bridgestone Arena. (Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports)

Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi (59) passes the puck from behind his net during the first period against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Bridgestone Arena. (Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports)

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Nashville Predators defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1

 

Nashville PredatorsPittsburgh, PA – The Nashville Predators defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins behind some stellar goaltending from Pekka Rinne tonight, 3-1.

The win avenges a loss to these Pens last week at Bridgestone Arena, as the Preds fell in a shootout. 

Combined with a loss last night by the Winnipeg Jets, and a loss tonight by the St. Louis Blues, the Predators are still very much alive to win the central division of the Western Conference.

All facets of Nashville’s game were on point tonight, with exceptional defense and a power play goal by Viktor Arvidsson.  

Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Matt Murray (30) makes a save against Nashville Predators right wing Craig Smith (15) during the second period at PPG PAINTS Arena.  (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)

Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Matt Murray (30) makes a save against Nashville Predators right wing Craig Smith (15) during the second period at PPG PAINTS Arena. (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)

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Nashville Predators defeat the Minnesota Wild 1-0 clinch Stanley Cup Playoff spot

 

Nashville PredatorsSt. Paul, MN – The Nashville Predators punched their ticket to the Stanley Cup playoffs tonight with a win over the Minnesota Wild, 1-0.  Ryan Johansen scored the game winner, just 4:32 into the opening period.

The Predators were coming off of a humiliating loss to the central division leading Winnipeg Jets on Saturday night and with the St. Louis Blues breathing down their neck, they desperately needed a win tonight.

Winnipeg lost to the Dallas Stars, but the Blues beat the Vegas Golden Knights to stay within two points of the Predators.  The final few games of the regular season will determine how these teams shake out for the playoffs.  Nashville still has a chance to win the division, but they could also fall to third place by seasons end.

Nashville Predators goalie Juuse Saros (74) makes a save in front of Minnesota Wild forward Luke Kunin (19) during the second period at Xcel Energy Center. (Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports)

Nashville Predators goalie Juuse Saros (74) makes a save in front of Minnesota Wild forward Luke Kunin (19) during the second period at Xcel Energy Center. (Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports)

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Nashville Predators humiliated by Winnipeg 5-0

 

Nashville PredatorsWinnipeg, Manitoba, Canada – The Nashville Predators were no match tonight for the central division leading Winnipeg Jets, getting shutout 5-0.

There will be a lot of soul searching in the Predators locker room after this one, and it will be interesting to see which direction this team goes from here. 

Nashville was hoping for a chance to take over the division with a win, and now they’re looking over their shoulder at St. Louis making a charge for second place.

Winnipeg Jets right wing Patrik Laine (29) skates towards Nashville Predators right wing Viktor Arvidsson (33) in the first period at Bell MTS Place. (James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports)

Winnipeg Jets right wing Patrik Laine (29) skates towards Nashville Predators right wing Viktor Arvidsson (33) in the first period at Bell MTS Place. (James Carey Lauder-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 fall to Winnipeg 5-3

 

Nashville PredatorsWinnipeg, Manitoba Canada -The Nashville Predators blew a two goal lead to fall to their Central Division rivals, the Winnipeg Jets, 5-3.  With the loss, Nashville relinquishes first place in the division.

Penalties and lack of a power play cost the Predators once again tonight as the Jets took full advantage of their man advantage.

Nashville struck first at 15:21 of the opening period when Viktor Arvidsson took a feed in the circle and ripped a wicked wrister past goalie Laurent Brossoit for the early 1-0 lead.

Winnipeg Jets forward Mark Scheifele (55) scores a goal past Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne (35) during the second period at Bell MTS Place. (Terrence Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

Winnipeg Jets forward Mark Scheifele (55) scores a goal past Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne (35) during the second period at Bell MTS Place. (Terrence Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

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