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Predators 5, Islanders 0

by Dyan LeBourdais / New York Islanders
At the end of 60 minutes of play on Monday night in Nashville, the Islanders were blanked 5-0 giving Anders Lindback his second straight shutout. The Predators special teams unit deserved the win as they scored two of five goals on the power play while the Islanders failed on all three power play attempts, just one game after they ended their power play scoring drought.

“I thought we came out (in the first period) pretty good,” said Islanders interim head coach Jack Capuano. “The disappointing thing for me tonight was we just played New Jersey, we played Columbus, we played Boston, we played Atlanta and their neutral zone forecheck is very similar to ours. We know that we can’t throw pucks in the middle of the ice and I thought we had some crucial turnovers.”

Through 60 minutes, the turnovers Capuano was referring to added up to the Islanders nine giveaways to the Predators five, while the Predators tacked on an additional 14 takeaways, compared to the Islanders 11.

Anders Lindback #39 of the Nashville Predators eyes the puck against Frans Nielsen #51 of the New York Islanders during an NHL game on December 13, 2010 at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee.(Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)
The one positive was that Islanders forward Rhett Rakhshani made his NHL debut at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. He recorded one takeaway with 11:44 of ice time and finished the game with an even plus-minus ranking.

“It’s definitely an adjustment,” Rakhshani said about his first NHL game. “It’s a lot faster (than the American League). Guys are stronger, take time away a lot quicker, but as the game got going, I felt a little more comfortable. I think I learned a little from tonight and hopefully I can take that into the next game.”

For his first game at the National level, Capuano thought Rakhshani played well.

“He played fine,” Capuano said. “He made some high percentage plays in the offensive zone. He didn’t turn many pucks over. He got the puck deep when he had to. He got in scoring areas and then went and had a few chances tonight.”

Even though Rakhshani played well, penalties were a problem on the Islanders bench. With less than three minutes left in regulation, the Islanders took two high sticking penalties just 34 seconds apart. While playing 5-on-3 hockey, Nick Spaling scored his first career NHL goal at 18:15 to give the Predators a 5-0 lead over the Islanders.

But it wasn’t the fifth goal that gave the Predators the win. It was a power play goal scored by Predators defenseman Sergei Kostitsyn at 11:15 of the first period after PA Parenteau went to the penalty box for tripping at 9:37 and the Islanders were just 22 seconds shy of killing the first penalty of the game.

“(It seems like there’s a few minutes of each game) where we’re not playing well,” Islanders defenseman James Wisniewski said. “It’s either three minutes in the second or four minutes in the first or something where they take advantage and we either draw penalties for a power play goal or they create something to get a goal. Then I don’t know if it’s because our team is so young, it just seems like we have a hard time bouncing back from the first goal.”

Nick Spaling #13 of the Nashville Predators battles for the puck against Dylan Reese #42 of the New York Islanders during an NHL game on December 13, 2010 at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee.(Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)
And that’s exactly what happened.

Patric Hornqvist made the score 4-0 Predators when he scored his second goal of the night at 13:55 of the final period. And by the end of the second period, the Predators were leading 3-0 after Hornqvist (5:22) and Jerred Smithson (7:31) scored.

“It just seems like all the air is taken out of our room and we just have to realize that there are 60 minutes in a hockey game,” Wisniewski said. “That’s the best thing about hockey... You can score four goals in 30 seconds. I mean it’s not realistic, but it’s possible.”

Even as the Islanders trailed 3-0 in the second, they kept it close in the shots on goal department.
Both teams had 11 shots, giving the Predators a one shot (19-18) lead. And to this point, the game was characterized by back-and-forth play as each team skated up-and-down the ice connecting passes, fumbling pucks and generating turnovers.

“In the second period, we played in our end quite a bit,” Capuano said. “We had some chances, we just have to get the puck off our hockey sticks a little quicker.”

But the Islanders won 61 percent of all faceoffs taken and recorded 15 hits to the Predators nine. While Predators had 11 takeaways, the Islanders had 10. The only statistic which is denoted a negative impact were the amount of giveaways the Islanders were making and even that was just different by a small margin (Islanders 7, Predators 4).

While the Islanders outshot the Predators 28 to 26, that wasn’t enough for to earn a win.

“They’re going to have to learn if they want to win some games,” Capuano said. “It’s something that we stress and that we talk about, but the pretty play is not always going to be there. At times we had our chances that could have changed the momentum of the game. We just couldn’t put the puck in the back of the net.”
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