Post-Game Musings: at Philadelphia

Thursday, 02.02.2012 / 10:48 PM / Features
By Doug Brumley  - Nashville Predators
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Post-Game Musings: at Philadelphia
In a now familiar scenario, the Nashville Predators entered a third period trailing. Down 0-2 to the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night at the Wells Fargo Center, Nashville again flipped a switch going into the final act and mounted a rally. But the comebacks—which have been bordering on the miraculous—didn’t continue this time, as the Predators saw their five-game win streak snapped by a 4-1 road loss that seemed much closer than its three-goal margin.

Ryan Suter scored the only goal for Nashville at 8:37 of the third period, capping a nice play started by the increasingly impressive duo of Matt Halischuk and Craig Smith. That cut the lead to 2-1, but the Predators’ momentum was halted when Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds scored on the power play—his second goal of the night—at 15:19. Nashville still mustered a few chances down the stretch, including a nice blast from the slot by Jordin Tootoo in the final two minutes that was stopped by goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov. Flyers leading scorer Claude Giroux closed the door at 18:55 with an empty net goal as Predators netminder Anders Lindback was pulled for an extra attacker.

Nashville’s record moves to 15-10-1 on the road and 31-17-4 overall. The team now returns home to prepare for Saturday night’s game against Central Division rivals the St. Louis Blues, 7pm CT at Bridgestone Arena. That is sure to be a heated affair, as just one point separates the two clubs in the Western Conference standings.


THREE MUSINGS
Net Nuisance: Thursday night’s game against Philadelphia was probably a better choice than most to rest No. 1 goaltender Pekka Rinne, given the penchant of Predator-turned-Flyer Scott Hartnell to interfere with opposing goalies. The story was no different as Hartnell faced his former squad. With less than 10 minutes remaining in the second period, Hartnell made a late stick jab at Nashville goaltender Anders Lindback after the Predators netminder made a save. That provoked a return shove from Lindback and a bit of a player scrum, but simmering tempers boiled over about a minute later when Hartnell bumped a crouched Lindback after the goalie covered the puck. Hartnell, whose Achilles heel during a career season remains the ill-advised penalty, was ultimately whistled for two minor penalties in the latter exchange (slashing and roughing), negating a power play for his team and giving the Predators a man advantage after a brief stint of 4-on-4 play.

Chemistry Lesson: Linemates Matt Halischuk and Craig Smith were again impressive together Thursday night, particularly in the third period. Fans will recall the duo was a spark in the final frame of Tuesday’s comeback win at Minnesota, and they combined for key goals in the two wins heading into the All-Star break. In addition to their playmaking Thursday in Philly, the two excelled at the details: Halischuk was the only Predator to finish on the right side of the plus/minus stat at +1, while Smith was a commanding 10 of 12 in the face-off circle.

Open Fire: After a second period in which Nashville totaled only 4 shots on net, the Predators came out firing in the third. Sergei Kostitsyn, owner of the NHL’s highest shooting percentage, unleashed two quality scoring chances in the first 1:09 of the third period. The Predators matched their second-period shot total in the first two minutes of the third, finishing the period with 11. Philadelphia outshot Nashville for the game, 28-27, thanks to a whopping 10 shots by two-goal scorer Wayne Simmonds.


QUOTE
Predators forward Craig Smith: “I’m not saying that we played bad tonight. I think we did some good things that we can build on. That’s a good team over there. That’s a team that’s going to be there in the end, so it was a good matchup for us. We’re going to take the things that we learned tonight and move on.”


THREE STARS
F, Wayne Simmonds: 2 goals (1 on the power play), +1, 10 shots
G, Ilya Bryzgalov: 26 saves on 27 shots, 19th win
D, Ryan Suter: 1 goal on 3 shots in 26:12 of ice-time
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