Saturday, October 1, 2011

Preds close out preseason with a win

The Nashville Predators defeated the Carolina Hurricanes in overtime by a 2-1 score to finish the preseason with a 7-1-0 record.

For the first two periods, there was very little offensive action by either team. Both Pekka Rinne and Brian Boucher played strong games in net. It was a scoreless game after two periods of play.

Carolina struck first in the 3rd period when Bryan Allen beat Rinne to the stick side. It wasn't an extraordinary scoring chance, but it was enough to give the Hurricanes a 1-0 lead.

Jiri Tlusty took a double minor high-sticking penalty for the Hurricanes at 7:09 of the period, which gave the Predators a lengthy power play. Patric Hornqvist would capitalize when he crashed the net and scored on the rebound of a Ryan Ellis shot. That would be the end of the scoring in the regulation frame of the hockey game.

In overtime, Craig Smith made a play that might have solidified a spot for him on the Predators' roster. He played a gritty shift, and created a turnover and fired a shot that handcuffed Boucher and gave the Preds the victory.

"It was a good effort. He got the turnover and ended up shooting the puck through the screen. It handcuffed the goalie and went in. It was great for his confidence. He's a great player and I'm really happy for him," said Predators forward Blake Geoffrion.

The Wisconsin Badgers' hockey program is making a big impact on the Nashville Predators organization. Geoffrion, Smith and Ryan Suter all played college hockey at Wisconsin, and are now making waves with the Predators.

"It's kind of funny how that works. Obviously, Sutes has been here a while. I got few games here last year and now Smith has played really well in the preseason. It's kind of weird that's happened but it's great for Wisconsin hockey and it speaks a lot about coach Eaves," Geoffrion said.

Nashville collected 14 out of 16 points in the preseason. That doesn't mean much in the long run, but it is a confidence builder for the team going into the season. One thing that the Preds have discovered this preseason is that they have a pretty good amount of depth.

Hockey fans don't have to wait much longer for the beginning of the 2011-12 regular season. The Preds begin regular season play next Friday in Columbus.

Hockey Night in Nashville's 3 Star's of the game(voted with 5:00 remaining in 3rd):
1. Brian Boucher (Carolina)
2. Pekka Rinne (Nashville)
3. Patric Hornqvist (Nashville)

Actual 3 Stars of the game:
1. Craig Smith (Nashville)
2. Pekka Rinne (Nashville)
3. Brian Boucher (Carolina)

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