Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty
Predators forward Paul Kariya beats ex-Predator Mike Dunham with a shot to the left side to end the shootout and give Nashville a 2-1 comeback win.
Familiarity may breed contempt, but more importantly for the Predators Monday night it led to a 2-1 shootout win over the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum. While a total of three former Nashville players were in the Islanders' lineup, it was the Predators' knowledge of goaltender Mike Dunham that proved the most valuable. While Nashville's onetime No. 1 netminder backstopped New York solidly for 65 minutes, Predators sharpshooters Steve Sullivan and Paul Kariya victimized Dunham with pinpoint shots during the shootout. Meanwhile, goalie Tomas Vokoun turned aside chances by Miroslav Satan and Viktor Kozlov at the other end of the ice to hand the Predators a second consecutive win.
"We had a good scouting report on the shootout," Predators head coach Barry Trotz said. "[Dunham] has some things that he does instinctively as a goaltender and we had him scouted pretty good."
With the game still tied 1-1 after a scoreless overtime session, New York elected to shoot first in the game-deciding shootout. Satan's deke to his backhand was met brilliantly by Vokoun's outstretched left pad, then Sullivan skated in and ripped a shot over Dunham's shoulder into the upper right corner of the net. Next, Kozlov's benign shot was easily blockered away by Vokoun. That set the table for Kariya to end the shootout in only its second round, which he did with a quick two-foot-high shot that zipped past Dunham on the blocker side and rippled the inside of the net.
In addition to the familiar faces, the match itself had a very deja vu feel. While the Predators have struggled in close games so far this season, Monday night they found a way to win despite an uneven performance. It was the type of victory the team excelled at during the 2005-06 campaign. And like last season, Vokoun stepped up to erase mistakes--namely a number of defensive-zone turnovers--and secure two points in the standings.
"When Tomas is on, that's what he does for you," Trotz said.
Nashville got off to a slow start, as ex-Predator Mike Sillinger put the Islanders up 1-0 with a whirling, no-look backhander 4:38 into the game. The home team outshot the visitors 9 to 7 in the opening 20 minutes and forced Vokoun to make a number of big saves to hold the margin at one until Sullivan could tie the score midway through the second.
Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty
Predators goaltender Tomas Vokoun meets Islanders forward Miroslav Satan's backhand chance with an outstretched left leg pad during Monday's shootout.
"We came out a little bit flatter than I wanted us to," Trotz said. "We didn't play with a lot of pace but I thought as the game went on we played with a little more pace. We did some good things defensively. We did some good things in many parts of our game, but we still dance with the devil a little too often."
Sullivan's goal, which came seconds after Nashville's first power play expired, was an off-speed one-timer that the winger miss-hit from the left face-off dot. The airborne puck simultaneously handcuffed and surprised Dunham as it knuckled its way past his waving glove hand. Sullivan's third tally of the season, it knotted the score at 1-1 at 10:15 of the second period.
The two teams traded momentum and chances for the remainder of the game, with the Predators taking too many risks on a less-than-ideal ice surface, according to Trotz.
"We're going to be playing in buildings that get a lot of use in New York City here, where the ice is not going to be as good as we'd like it," Trotz said. "So pucks are going to bounce. Those cute passes, those high-risk passes, they're not going to lie flat. They're going to jump over your stick. You can't do that. You've got to play a real simple north-south type of game."
Now Nashville has one day to prepare for a Wednesday night match-up against the New York Rangers. The following night the Predators will conclude this stretch of three games in four nights with a visit to the New Jersey Devils. Both games, which start at 6:00 p.m. CT and 6:30 p.m. CT respectively, will be televised on FSN South and broadcast on 104.5-FM The Zone.
NOTES: Steve Sullivan's shootout goal--his fourth in eight career shootout appearances--gives him more game-deciding tallies (3) than any other Predator. Sullivan's goal during regulation puts him in the team scoring lead with six points (3g-3a). Sullivan also led all skaters with five shots on goal Monday... Paul Kariya's successful shootout attempt Monday improves his career scoring percentage in the game-deciding exercise to 75 percent (6 of 8)... Monday night marked the sixth time Nashville has not allowed a goal in a shootout. The team is 7-3 in shootout competitions. Goaltender Tomas Vokoun improved his record to 5-3. He has allowed only 8 goals on 22 shootout attempts in his career... David Legwand and J.P. Dumont each posted his third assist of the season on Sullivan's second-period goal... Defenseman Dan Hamhuis led all Predators in ice time with 26:16... Due to NHL inter-conference scheduling regulations, Monday night's game was the final time the Predators and Islanders will meet until the 2008-09 season. The Predators haven't suffered a regulation loss at the hands of the Islanders since April 11, 2002, going 4-0-1 in the past five meetings. Nashville now leads the all-time series 7-3-1 and owns a 3-1-1 record in games played at Nassau Coliseum. Last season's match was played in Nashville, where Sullivan scored both goals in a 2-1 victory... Darcy Hordichuk (rib injury) and Greg Zanon (concussion) missed Monday's game; Scott Nichol was a healthy scratch from the Nashville lineup.