Post-Game Musings: at Phoenix

Tuesday, 03.13.2012 / 12:57 AM / Features
By Jay Levin  - Nashville Predators
The Preds opened their four-game West Coast road trip with a wild 5-4 shootout win in Phoenix. Nashville never trailed in the game, owning leads of 1-0, 2-1, and 4-2, but saw Phoenix rally each time to tie the score and ultimately force overtime.

Both teams had several chances in the OT frame, but were unable to convert, sending the game to a shootout. Pekka Rinne denied all three Coyotes shooters, starting with Ray Whitney to open the shootout. After Andrei Kostitsyn scored on Nashville's first attempt, Rinne stopped Radim Vrbata and Mikkel Boedker to seal the two points for the Preds.

With the win, Nashville moves to 89 points, just two points behind No. 4 seed Detroit and seven points ahead of No. 6 seed Chicago. The Preds also hold a 12 point advantage over the playoff cut line with all teams having fewer than 15 games remaining in the regular season.

Now the Preds have two days off before hitting up California for three games in four days this weekend.

On to the musings...


THREE MUSINGS:
The Big Line Keeps Producing: Nashville’s top offensive line of Mike Fisher centering Martin Erat and Sergei Kostitsyn was on the ice for the team’s first three goals scored with the trio combining for two goals, four assists, and a +6 plus/minus rating. Over the last five games, the trio have combined to post eight goals, eight assists, and a +17 plus/minus rating. And in the 19 games since the NHL All-Star Break, the trio have combined to produce 20 goals and 27 assists for 47 points.

Ready Reserve: Defenseman Jack Hillen entered the lineup as a late injury replacement for Roman Josi, who suffered an upper body injury late in Saturday’s game against Detroit, and skated 17:37 with two shots on goal and a +1 plus/minus rating. It was just Hillen’s sixth appearance since the All-Star Break, but the veteran defenseman has been productive when called upon with a “plus” plus/minus rating in five of the six games (earning an “even” rating the other appearance). His play has allowed the Preds to weather various injuries along the back end this season and still remain high in Western Conference standings.

AK Again: Andrei Kostitsyn scored the shootout winner for the Preds tonight, his second consecutive game-winner for the Preds. Saturday against Detroit, he scored the GWG on the power-play. Though held scoreless tonight, Andrei Kostitsyn created a handful of quality scoring chances, including a great chance with around 1:40 left in regulation on a rush with Ryan Suter and another dangerous rush midway through overtime with Nick Spaling. In six games since being acquired at the Trade Deadline, Andrei has 3 goals (one game winner), 3 assists, and 1 shootout winner.

Bonus Thought: I'm not a huge fan of the "hits" stat -- it doesn't always give a complete picture of toughness or even effectiveness on the forecheck -- but Jordin Tootoo registered 6 hits tonight, an impressive number for a road player. Tootoo now has 14 hits over his last three games, a very positive sign that he's --- to borrow a theme Coach Trotz touched on late last week --- re-focusing on his core identity as a hockey player. That is another important element to the Preds roster heading into any playoff series.


POST-GAME QUOTE:
Andrei Kostitsyn on tonight's game
"Now I feel more comfortable than the first couple of games (with Nashville). This is how I play, I try to shoot the puck and score.... We had a couple of mistakes in the third period and then had to comeback and win in the shootout."


THREE STARS:
1) NSH F Martin Erat – 1g-2a, +3; scored game’s opening goal
2) PHX D Oliver Ekman-Larsson – 1g-1a, +3, 26:01 time on ice
3) PHX F Daymond Langkow – 1g-1a, +1; won 13-of-20 faceoffs



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STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 54 20 8 266 209 116
2 y - COL 82 52 22 8 250 220 112
3 x - STL 82 52 23 7 248 191 111
4 x - SJS 82 51 22 9 249 200 111
5 x - CHI 82 46 21 15 267 220 107
6 x - LAK 82 46 28 8 206 174 100
7 x - MIN 82 43 27 12 207 206 98
8 x - DAL 82 40 31 11 235 228 91
9 PHX 82 37 30 15 216 231 89
10 NSH 82 38 32 12 216 242 88
11 WPG 82 37 35 10 227 237 84
12 VAN 82 36 35 11 196 223 83
13 CGY 82 35 40 7 209 241 77
14 EDM 82 29 44 9 203 270 67

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
S. Weber 79 23 33 -2 56
P. Hornqvist 76 22 31 1 53
C. Smith 79 24 28 16 52
M. Fisher 75 20 29 -4 49
R. Josi 72 13 27 -2 40
M. Cullen 77 10 29 4 39
C. Wilson 81 11 22 -1 33
N. Spaling 71 13 19 2 32
R. Ellis 80 6 21 9 27
G. Bourque 74 9 17 -5 26
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Hutton 20 11 4 .910 2.62
D. Dubnyk 11 18 3 .891 3.43

 
 

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