Nashville played a very un-Preds like game tonight, but still nearly came away with a win; as Coach Trotz referenced in his post-game press conference, the Preds got off to a very slow start and didn’t play a gritty enough “detailed” game. Still, for all the Preds didn’t do right tonight, Martin Erat’s power-play goal late in regulation forced overtime. In OT, Nashville did look a lot more like itself, creating several elite chances, before taking an ill-advised icing which the Coyotes converted into a faceoff win and OT goal.
This is just Game 1 of what promises to be a long series, so expect the Preds – who looked like the fresher team the longer the game wore on – to put forth a more complete effort in Game 2 on Sunday.
Now on to the musings…
3rd Period Dominance – The Preds outscored Detroit 7-3 in Period 3s during Round 1; tonight the Preds got the lone third period goal in the game while holding a 16-1 edge in shots on goal in tonight’s Period 3.
Slow Start – Nashville spent all week talking about the slow start in last year’s Conference Semifinals series against Vancouver. Tonight was a sense of déjà vu as the Preds struggled out of the gate in the first period and never really seemed to get 100% into “Predators-style hockey” tonight. Nashville did get better as the game went along, but through regulation the top forwards --- with the exception of Martin Erat --- were not nearly involved in the game as Nashville needs to win this series. In OT, the Preds forwards stepped up their play, particularly Radulov and Sergei Kostitsyn.
Faceoff Circle – Nashville was very strong in the faceoff circle during Round 1 against Detroit, but tonight the Phoenix Coyotes owned the faceoff dots. The Preds won only 32 of the 78 faceoffs during Game 1, just 41%. Several of Phoenix’s faceoff wins were clean draws, allowing the Coyotes to set up their plays off the draws, including, ultimately the game-winning goal in overtime.
1) PHX F Ray Whitney – 1 goal, 1 assist, +1; scored the OT winner; creative with the puck on his stick tonight; was in line for one of the three stars even before scoring the OT goal
2) NSH F Martin Erat –1 goal, game-high 5 shots on goal; good energy tonight, strong on the puck, strong on the forecheck; even before his OT-forcing goal Erat was in line for one of the three stars
3) NSH D Francis Bouillon– 2 assists, +2; 3 hits, 1 blocked shot; steady defensively; was robbed by Smith on great chance early in P3 and had another great chance in overtime