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The Week Ah-Pred: Feb. 3

by Jimi Russell / Nashville Predators

The Nashville Predators knocked out three games last week, including back-to-back tilts this past weekend.

The Preds finished up their four-game Western Canadian swing on Tuesday night in Winnipeg, as the teams traded goals through the first two periods, before Mike Fisher sealed it for Nashville.

Seth Jones opened the scoring for Nashville with a beautiful coast-to-coast rush that ended with a wrap-around goal. Michael Del Zotto picked up his first point/assist in a Preds sweater on the goal.

It would take the Jets only 22 seconds to respond, as Chris Thorburn registered a pinball goal that somehow found its way past Carter Hutton.

Each team would post a pair of goals in the middle frame with Roman Josi starting things off on a tick-tack-toe goal just 42 seconds into the period. Nashville would extend its lead at 17:18, when Nick Spaling buried a feed from Paul Gaustad and Colton Sissons. The helper was Sissons first NHL point, making him the first Nashville rookie to post an assist in his NHL debut since Spaling (Dec. 15, 2009 vs. Tampa Bay) and the first rookie to register a point in his NHL debut since Kevin Henderson (1g; April 19, 2013 at Chicago).

The Jets would once again snatch the momentum back less than a minute after Spaling’s goal, as they tallied twice in 27-second span to tie the game going into the third period.

Nashville would again use a quick start in the third, as Fisher pocketed a power-play goal just 42 seconds into the frame to regain the lead. Hutton would stand tall in the final 20 minutes, turning away 11-of-11 shots to earn his 12th win of the season, and his third against the Jets.

The Preds returned to Bridgestone Arena on Friday night to take on the New Jersey Devils. It was just the Devils 10th appearance all-time at the arena on Broadway.

Shea Weber started things off at 6:45 of the first period as his point shot deflected off a Devils defender and past Cory Schneider.

Nashville would hold the lead until 13:00 of the second period when Patrick Elias fired a shot that glanced off Hutton’s glove and rolled into the net to even the score. The Devils would take the lead six minutes later on a Jaromir Jagr goal that found a hole between Hutton’s pad and the post. The 2-1 margin would hold going into the final frame.

It would take 19 minutes and 49 seconds for the cardiac saber-toothed cats to even the score.

With time ticking down on the third period, and Hutton on the bench for the extra attacker, a Josi shot was deflected, but found David Legwand alone in the left circle, as the veteran center fired a shot into what was essentially an empty net to force overtime.

The teams traded quality chances in the extra frame, including Hutton’s spectacular save on a Michael Ryder breakaway just 1:30 into the five-minute period. The Preds goaltender played the hero early on, but it was Weber and Colin Wilson who played the difference makers.

After the Devils won an offensive-zone faceoff, Wilson jumped on a loose puck and rushed up ice. As the Greenwich, Conn., native broke into the Devils’ end, he split the defenders and dropped the puck to a trailing Weber, who fired a wrist shot past Schneider for the win.

The Preds had a quick turnaround as they boarded a plane to St. Louis right after the game on Friday night.

Saturday’s back-to-back may have been rough on the Preds starting out, as they found themselves in a 2-0 hole after 23 minutes of play, but they showed character by charging back late in the contest.

Paul Gaustad cut the Blues lead in half at 16:48 of the second period with his eighth goal of the season. That goals total is Gaustad’s highest since the 2010-11 season, when he posted a career-high 12 goals (his third consecutive season hitting the mark).

Fisher tied the game at 3:25 of the third, as he rushed down the right wing and fired a shot from an awkward angle that trickled through St. Louis’ Brian Elliott.

Josi gave the Preds their first lead of the game a little more than four minutes later. Craig Smith picked up at loose puck at center ice and drove into the St. Louis zone. Smith dished a pass to a streaking Legwand on the right wing, before Legwand fired a cross-ice pass to Josi, who wristed a shot past Elliott.

One thing coaches always preach is being steady on the next shift following a goal, and that was something the Preds failed to do just 16 seconds after Josi’s goal, as Vladimir Tarasenko tied the game once again.

The score would remain tied after regulation and the five-minute overtime period.

In the shootout, T.J. Oshie tallied on the first shot of the breakaway competition, while Elliott stymied Taylor Beck on Nashville first attempt. Hutton stood tall against Alexander Steen, before Ryan Ellis scored on what is becoming his patented forehand-backhand move. Hutton stood tall once again, stopping Kevin Shattenkirk in the third round. With a chance to win it, Josi skated in and faked a shot, but the aggressive Elliott poke-checked the puck away before Josi could get his backhand shot off.

In the fourth round, Tarasenko once again came up big, putting his Blues up 2-1 with a nice stutter-step goal. Head Coach Barry Trotz then called upon Mattias Ekholm for his first-career shootout attempt. Much like Josi, Ekholm skated in and deked, but Elliott’s active goalstick denied the Preds the tying goal.

Colton Sissons and Simon Moser both made thier NHL debuts this week. 

Sissons first appeared on Tuesday night in Winnipeg, posting an assist and a +1 rating in 10:49 of ice time.  Moser, who hails from the same city as Roman Josi, made his debut on Saturday in St. Louis, recording 10:21 of ice time.

Nashville Predators at Minnesota Wild – Thursday, Feb. 6 – 7 p.m. CT
(FOX Sports Tennessee and 102.5 The Game)

The Nashville Predators and Minnesota Wild face off in the fourth of five tilts this season; the Preds will returned to the Twin Cities on April 13 to close out the season series. Dating back to Dec. 31, 2010, the Predators are 8-3-2 against the Wild, and have won three of the last six on Minnesota ice (3-2-1).

These teams last met in the Music City on Jan. 12, as the Wild scored two goals in the first and a pair in the third in a 4-0 shutout of the Preds.

In their last contest at Xcel Energy Center on Oct. 22, the Wild shutout the Preds, 2-0, in what was Pekka Rinne’s most recent game for the Preds due to his on-going battle with a hip infection. Justin Fontaine scored with two seconds remaining in the second period and Jason Pominville tallied an empty-net goal at 19:35 of the third period to secure the win.

Anaheim Ducks at Nashville Predators – Saturday, Feb. 8 – 7 p.m. CT
(FOX Sports Tennessee and 102.5 The Game)

                          Howard The Duck/LucasFilms
In the Preds last game before the Olympic break, they take on the Anaheim Ducks for the final time at Bridgestone Arena. The Preds head to Pacific Coast on April 4 to finish the season series.

The Preds have collected at least a point in eight of its last 10 games against the Ducks dating back to Jan. 5, 2011, going 6-2-2 in those games. Nashville has posted a 15-8-(2)-3 all-time record against Anaheim on Bridgestone Arena ice.

These teams met for the first time on Jan. 9 in the Music City, as the Preds jumped out to and early lead, before a four-goal second period from Anaheim would lead to a 4-3 Ducks victory.

Paul Gaustad and Craig Smith pushed Nashville out to a 2-0 lead just 2:22 into the game, but the teams would combine for five goals in the second period before all was said and done.

Ryan Getzlaf tied the game with a pair goals of his own in the first five minutes of the middle frame. Rich Clune regained the lead for the Preds with his second goal of the season less than a minute after Getzlaf tied it, but Corey Perry would once again tie the game 56 seconds later. It was Teemu Selanne’s power-play goal with less than two minutes remaining in the second would prove to be the difference maker as he pushed the final margin to 4-3.

Pekka Rinne is on IR with a hip injury.
Viktor Stalberg is on IR with an upper-body injury.

Jimmy Vesey (third round, 2012) extended his goals and points lead (11g-6a-17pts) for the Harvard Crimson this weekend with the game-winning goal against Princeton on Friday night. In addition to the game winner, Vesey tied his season high with eight shots on goal in the contest. It marked the 15th time the Boston, Mass., native has posted at least five shots in a game this season. The 6-1, 197-pound winger is now tied for second in Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC) game-winning goals (four), and ranks fifth in ECAC goals per game (.55) and 11th in goals (he’s played the fewest amount of games (20) among players ranked in the ECAC Top 15 in goal-scoring). Vesey and the Crimson take to the ice in the 62nd Annual Beanpot Tournament on Monday.

NASHVILLE, TN - JANUARY 31: David Legwand #11 of the Nashville Predators scores to tie the game against Cory Schneider #35 of the New Jersey Devils at Bridgestone Arena on January 31, 2014 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)

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