It was a back-and-forth affair on Saturday night as the Nashville Predators fell to the Philadelphia Flyers in the shootout, 3-2.
Claude Giroux opened the scoring as he picked up a turnover in Nashville end and fired the puck over Marek Mazanec’s shoulder at the 16:49 mark of the opening period. The Preds responded a minute later, when Patric Hornqvist emerged from a scrum in the corner with the puck and found Mike Fisher in the slot. Fisher took the pass from Hornqvist and one-timed it through Steve Mason’s five hole to even the score.
The score would remain tied at one goal apiece through the middle frame and into the third period, before Colin Wilson beat Mason to give the Preds the lead. Wilson and Fisher were rushing into the Philadelphia zone, when Wilson tried to flip a puck to Fisher, but, instead, the puck bounced off the defender and trickled past Mason.
Nashville would hold the lead until a flurry of activity in front of the Nashville net resulted in Sean Couturier netting the game-tying goal with less than seven minutes remaining in the contest.
With the score deadlocked after 60 minutes of the play, the overtime period was needed for the first time since Oct. 31 at Phoenix. After a scoreless five minute extra frame, the Preds and Flyers headed to the shootout.
In the shootout, Craig Smith, Matt Hendricks and Matt Cullen were all thwarted, while Vinny Lecavalier’s goal proved to be the difference maker, as the Flyers took home the shootout victory.
Two Things and Notes:
Penalty Kill Continues: As I wrote last time, the Preds penalty kill continues to shut down some of the League’s top power plays. That was no different tonight against Philly and the No. 3-ranked road power play in the League. The Preds have held the opposition power play scoreless in eight straight games – now the second-longest streak in franchise history (Nov. 16-Nov.30; the longest streak is nine games from Nov. 18-Dec. 4, 2010).
Nashville’s penalty kill has held the opposition scoreless on their last 22 times shorthanded, last allowing a power-play goal on Nov. 15 in Pittsburgh, and have only surrendered three power-play goals on 38 times shorthanded in their last 11 outings (92.1 percent). The Preds’ penalty kill ranks eighth in the League (85.1 percent), and has allowed the eighth-fewest power-play goals (13). Nashville’s home penalty kill continues to improve as it now ranks in the League’s Top 10 (84.6 percent, tied for 10th).
Shooting Gallery: Everyone says you have to put shots on goal to win games. With 36 shots, the Predators have now outshot the opposition in three straight games, and put at least 35 shots on goal six times in 2013-14. All 18 Preds skaters recorded at least one shot on goal on Saturday night, as Nashville outshot Philadelphia 35-14 at even strength. Matt Cullen, who played his 1,100th career game on Saturday, led the team with five shots on goal.
Nashville has now earned at least a point in the standings in six of the last eight games (5-2-1).
Matt Cullen played in his 1,100th NHL game tonight. Cullen is one of only three players 37 years old or older to play for Nashville (Hal Gill, Martin Gelinas).
Joe Piskula made his debut in a Predators uniform with 10:27 in icetime and a +1 rating.
With 22 saves on 24 shots, rookie Marek Mazanec continued his hot stretch. The Czech netminder has not allowed more than two goals in a game since Nov. 15, a stretch of eight consecutive contests.
Each player on the Wilson-Fisher-Hornqvist line earned a point in the game. Mike Fisher now has three goals in his last four games. Colin Wilson's goal was his first since his two-goal, four-point night on Nov. 6 at Colorado, a stretch of 11 games. Patric Hornqvist picked up an assist in his first game back from an upper-body injury (missed three games). Fisher and Wilson were each a team-best +2.
Gabriel Bourque has four points (1G, 3A) in his last four games, and eight points (3G, 5A) in his last nine games.
Ryan Ellis has three points - all assists - in his last three games.
Roman Josi led all players in ice time with 32:26 (his first game over 30 minutes this season), with his blueline partner Seth Jones clocking in at 30:43 (his second game over 30 minutes this season – last on Oct. 31 at Phoenix).