Photo by John Russell
Predators defenseman Ryan Suter assisted on two of Nashville's five goals Thursday against Montreal.
After trailing by two goals at three different points in the game, the Montreal Canadiens repeatedly clawed back to hand the Nashville Predators a 6-5 shootout loss Thursday night at Nashville Arena. Paul Kariya scored the only goal for the Predators in the game-deciding shootout session, while Tomas Plekanec and Saku Koivu each scored for the Canadiens. J.P. Dumont extended his point streak to three games with a goal and two assists during regulation while three of his teammates collected two points each.
With the score standing at 4-3 after two periods, the teams traded a goal each in the third before Montreal tied it at 5-5 with 47.1 seconds remaining in regulation. After a scoreless sudden-death overtime session, the game moved to the shootout.
Early on in the game, the edge went to Nashville. The Predators scored twice in the first 3:57 of play to build a two-goal cushion, then the teams alternated goals until reaching a 4-3 score by the second intermission. Four of the game's first seven tallies came on the power play as special teams were key.
Nashville went on the power play just 47 seconds into the match, after defenseman Andrei Markov was penalized for driving Preds forward Martin Erat into Montreal goaltender Jaroslav Halak. During the ensuing manpower advantage, Steve Sullivan put the home team on the board with a centering feed that was targeted for Scott Hartnell but deflected into the Montreal net off the stick of Mathieu Dandenault at 1:22. Shea Weber's wrist shot from the top of the Canadiens zone eluded Halak to make it 2-0 at 3:57.
The Predators got into penalty trouble midway through the first, when overlapping penalties to defensemen Dan Hamhuis and Greg Zanon gave Montreal a 49-second five-on-three advantage. Michael Ryder scored 44 seconds later on a feed from Saku Koivu to pull the visitors within one goal.
Just over a minute after Ryder's goal, Sullivan drew a hooking penalty during a brilliant stickhandling display that singlehandedly killed the rest of Zanon's penalty and set up another power play for Nashville. Working from the right corner, Dumont connected with Hartnell for a tap goal at 13:49. The 3-1 lead lasted on 2:38 as Mark Streit took a cross-ice feed from Sergei Samsonov and backhanded the puck past goaltender Tomas Vokoun.
Nashville went back on the power play with less than a minute gone in the second period, and Dumont converted to make it 4-2 at the 2:28 mark. Dumont capped a nice offensive zone tic-tac-toe passing play that sent the puck from Ryan Suter diagonally down to Jason Arnott near the left face-off dot then across to Dumont at the right dot for a high, short-side shot tally.
The lead was cut to one goal once again when Garth Murray knocked home a rebound of Michael Komisarek's point shot at 12:57 of the second.
Nashville had two tremendous opportunities in the final five minutes of the middle frame to make it 5-3, but couldn't finish off the plays. Hartnell was unable to get a stick on a gift of a pass from Sullivan at the right post at 16:30 and later David Legwand was stopped on a breakaway set up by Hartnell's aerial outlet pass.
After Canadiens' winger Alexander Perezhogin scored another power-play tally to even the game at 4-4 at 4:08 of the third, Legwand banked a centering pass off both skates of defenseman Sheldon Souray and into the Montreal net to recapture the lead at 5:55. The margin stood until the final minute of play, when the Canadiens pulled Halak and capitalized with the extra attacker to force overtime. Plekanec fed the puck out front of Sergei Samsonov, who roofed a shot over the stick-side shoulder of Vokoun at 19:12.
Sullivan was lost late in the third due to injury and the Predators were without him in the thrilling overtime session and shootout. Arnott and Dumont just missed connecting on a give-and-go that would have won the game in OT, while Vokoun was successful with a last-ditch poke check to thwart Koivu alone in front in the final seconds of the four-on-four overtime.
NOTES: The Predators scored three power-play goals in a game for the fifth time this season. The power play units went 3-for-7 Thursday after going 0-for-19 in the previous five games... Steve Sullivan netted a goal and an assist an now leads the team in scoring with 60 points... David Legwand scored his 100th career goal... Scott Hartnell, who posted a goal and an assist, recorded his second two-point game in a row... J.P. Dumont finished the night with a goal and two assists to extend his point streak to three games. He has 6 points (3g-3a) during the streak... Jason Arnott collected two assists to also extend his point streak to three games (1g-3a=4pts)... Paul Kariya is now 4-for-6 on shootout attempts this season and 9-for-13 since the shootout was instituted in 2005-06... The Predators are 7-2-1 against the Eastern Conference... Nashville is 4-2 in shootouts and 6-4 in overtime... The Predators held their opponent to under 30 shots for the fifth straight game... Nashville is 22-5-4 at home and 28-1-4 when leading after two periods... Darcy Hordichuk, Jerred Smithson and Kimmo Timonen were scratches for Nashville.
NASHVILLE HEAD COACH BARRY TROTZ
General game observations
Well I thought we got off to a great start. I thought we were skating really well. I think the 5-on-3 got them back in the game, it gave them some life. We'd get another goal, then they'd get it right back, on a sort of backdoor play. Our winger had him, but didn't have him, and they scored. Another power play got them back in. I thought our power play was good. But we couldn't put them away. Three times we had a two-goal lead. To me, the ability to just finish the deal, we didn't. We kept letting them back in. Full credit, they stayed in it through the power play or a good offensive play in our zone, or poor coverage. We're standing right next to guys, even on the winning goal, we were in the corner, we just couldn't get back to the net, no one challenges Samsonov. He didn't get challenged a lot out of the corner with our winger and defenseman. Obviously in a shootout, anything can happen.
On the topic of game preparation
We talked about not seeing this team, so you've got to expect the unexpected. At the same time, I recognize that they've got a very good hockey team. I hope we were ready. I think we were, cause of the way we came out in the first period. I thought we skated as well as we had in a while.
PREDATORS CENTER PETER FORSBERG
On the game
We played really good for periods of time. Then, we kind of let down, and they got back in the game. (They) got one late and won in the shootout. We could have had two (points), definitely.
On missed opportunities
In the first period, I thought we missed a lot and then again in the second we had a couple again. They're going to come here. We just have to work on it. Getting chances is not the end, it's getting goals. We just have to bare down a little bit harder.
On teams playing their 'A' game against the Predators
We got off to a great start though, we were ahead 2-0 after ten minutes. We got back in the game with our (power play) and we missed a few defensive plays here, but we just have to keep on working. With Detroit coming this Saturday, we can't feel bad about this one; we have to look forward to the next one now.
PREDATORS GOALTENDER TOMAS VOKOUN
On Montreal's chances
It was kind of a weird game, but like I said, even when there are chances, I'm there to stop it. I didn't do that today. We ended up losing the game in a shootout.
On the loss
We played good enough to win, with five goals scored, but I didn't come up with the saves today and that was the difference. I think this game could have been 5-1 or 5-2.
On missing the opportunity for two points
We led the whole game. We should have two (points), no question about it.
PREDATORS RIGHT WING J.P. DUMONT
On the game
We did exactly what we wanted to, like having good power-plays, good chances, playing well five-on-five. Our power-play was good, our (penalty kill) was good tonight, but five-on-five, we have to be better than that. We are a really good team this year five-on-five, but we didn't show it tonight. We thought just winning with the power-play, and (penalty kill), we'd be able to play five-on-five. That's when they got back in the game every time. We had the lead by two goals a few times and we always let them come back in the game. That's not our kind of hockey.
On the difficulty of playing a team they don't see often
We got a lot of goals. We have no excuse for the way we played five-on-five. Like I said, we are a good team, when we play with a lead like that, we have to make sure we finish the other team. We don't want to give them any chances to come back in the game. That's what we didn't do tonight. So, it cost us a big point. The way we played tonight and the lead that we had a few times, that should have been two points for us.
On looking forward to Detroit
(We have to) play better than we did tonight. We are a really good team five-on-five, we have to make sure we keep doing the same thing on the power-play, but we have to improve a lot of stuff five-on-five.
MONTREAL GOALTENDER JAROSLAV HALAK
On the game overall
"Obviously not the start we wanted to be down by two. But we battled back....big game for us."
MONTREAL FORWARD SAKU KOIVU
On the game overall
"Every game right now is pretty much a must win for us and especially coming out here against a team like that. To steal two points like that is huge for us."
On special teams
"We've paid a lot of attention in the last 4 - 5 games not taking the penalties and that has been a problem for us throughout the season. Last couple games we've done a good job but tonight, if you want to win on a consistent basis you can't take that many penalties and expect to win games.
On a big team win in Nashville
"I don't think there were too many people that expected us to win here tonight. We were down pretty much the whole game and but came back and tied it in the end and then getting the shootout."
"Sometimes you need games like this to build the confidence, and hopefully from here on it will be a little easier to win the games."
MONTREAL HEAD COACH GUY CARBONNEAU
On going down 2 quickly
"It wasn't easy to go down 2-0 with everything that we have learned the past couple day about how Nashville was playing and how good of team they are."
On the goals
"Yeah one was Mathieu and then the other one was Sheldon, the fifth goal. So, overall I thought we played really well 5 on 5. It was just trying to stay out of the penalty box which was hard. But we found ways in the 3rd period."