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Post-Game Musings: at NY Islanders

Monday, 01.16.2012 / 2:48 PM CT / Features
By Jim Diamond  - NashvillePredators.com
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Post-Game Musings: at NY Islanders
Monday’s 3-1 victory over the New York Islanders was the ideal way to start off the Predators’ current three-game road swing. The win was Nashville’s fifth straight, eighth in their last nine, and 14th in their last 18 games. The win over the Islanders improved the Predators to 6-2-2 against the Eastern Conference this season.

The Predators dressed seven defensemen for the first time this season, and it proved to be a smart move. Ryan Suter was questionable for the game with an upper-body injury, and even though he saw 10 shifts for 7:04 of ice time in the opening period, he did not return to the game to start the second.

Tuesday’s game at Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers with represent the second half of Nashville’s back-to-back set on their mini-tour of metropolitan New York City. As back-to-backs go, this is about as easy as they get; travel-wise anyway. Instead of hopping on the plane to fly to their next destination and arriving in the wee hours of the morning, the team will take the short bus ride from Long Island to Manhattan in advance of Tuesday’s date with the Winter Classic winning Rangers. With Monday being a day game and Tuesday a night game, the Predators even have a little more time to let their bodies recover as well.


THREE MUSINGS
Another Fast Road Start: For the second time in as many road games, the Predators got off to a fast start with another three-goal first period. Thanks to first period goals by Sergei Kostitsyn, Matt Halischuk, and David Legwand, the Predators took a 3-0 lead into the first intermission, just as they did last Tuesday at Colorado in their last road contest. Nashville entered Monday’s game with a -11 goal differential (33 scored, 44 allowed) in the first period of games this season. Rallying from early deficits is taxing on a team, so getting in front early, especially on the road, allows the coaching staff to roll all of their lines and defensive pairings in a more efficient fashion trying to protect the lead.

Early Start, No Problem: Monday marked the second time that the Predators played a matinee, and just like the first one, they came away with a win despite the non-traditional start time. Predators Head Coach Barry Trotz has often said that the road team has the advantage in games that start early because they are already on a different schedule being away from home. Home teams are used to doing their pregame preparations at routine times, so adjusting for a different opening faceoff time has the potential to upset the timing of their normal routines. Nashville’s first early start of the season came October 22nd in Calgary. In that game, Pekka Rinne pitched a 2-0 shutout, ending the team’s early season four-game losing streak. The Predators have one more early afternoon start on the schedule this season, as their February 11th game in Boston against the Bruins is scheduled to start at noon C.T.

PK Comes Up Big: Even though the Predators held a 3-0 lead at the time, the team’s penalty killing unit was tested midway through the second period. Gabriel Bourque was sent off for hooking at 8:33 of the second, but it was not long before he had company in the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum penalty box. Mike Fisher caught John Tavares with a high stick 50 seconds later, giving the Islanders a prolonged 5-on-3 power play of 1:10. New York entered Monday’s action with a 19.3% success rate on the power play, which placed them seventh best in the NHL. Making things more difficult on the Predators for these particular penalty kills was the fact that they occurred in the second period, when they had the long change. Kevin Klein, Shea Weber, and Nick Spaling were out there for the entirety of the two-man disadvantage. Their efforts, combined with that of Rinne, kept the Islanders off of the scoreboard. New York was credited with two shots on goal during that 1:10, and Weber and Spaling each blocked a shot in that time.


THREE QUOTES
F Chris Mueller (On the first period): “It was a 1:00 (p.m.) game, so we had to be ready there from the get-go. We just put our first two shots on net and they went in. That’s what we wanted to do, just go hard to the net, get pucks deep, and keep it simple. We rewarded ourselves.”

Head Coach Barry Trotz (On three first period goals): “We had some chances going the other way; two great shots, obviously Sergei on the first one and Hali on the second one. They had a sloppy change and we were able to capitalize on the third one.”

F Matt Halischuk (On his goal): “I got a step on the D man there and had a 2-on-1. I was just able to get a good shot off and luckily it went in.”


THREE STARS
G Pekka Rinne, Nashville: 36 saves on 37 shots faced en route to his 24th win of the season
F David Legwand, Nashville: One goal, 19:49 of ice time
D Kevin Klein, Nashville: Team high 23:28 of ice time and four blocked shots
SMASHVILLE CENTRAL

SCHEDULE
 

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STANDINGS
 

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 CHI 58 36 18 4 160 134 76
2 DAL 55 35 15 5 178 147 75
3 STL 56 30 17 9 133 130 69
4 LAK 53 32 18 3 146 124 67
5 SJS 53 28 20 5 154 143 61
6 ANA 53 26 19 8 120 125 60
7 COL 57 28 25 4 153 158 60
8 NSH 54 25 21 8 139 144 58
9 MIN 54 23 21 10 133 134 56
10 VAN 54 22 20 12 125 144 56
11 ARI 53 24 23 6 139 163 54
12 CGY 53 25 25 3 143 156 53
13 WPG 54 24 27 3 139 157 51
14 EDM 56 22 29 5 138 168 49

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
R. Josi 54 11 27 -3 38
F. Forsberg 54 17 18 -7 35
S. Weber 54 14 21 -5 35
M. Ribeiro 54 6 27 2 33
J. Neal 54 19 13 18 32
M. Ekholm 54 6 18 3 24
R. Ellis 53 6 16 2 22
C. Smith 54 11 7 -2 18
C. Jarnkrok 53 9 8 0 17
C. Wilson 37 4 12 -1 16
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Rinne 20 18 7 .903 2.54
C. Hutton 5 2 1 .916 2.36