Sunday, October 16, 2011

Wilson's maturation shows in Preds shootout loss to Devils

The New Jersey Devils defeated the Nashville Predators 3-2 by way of a shootout on Saturday night in front of the ninth consecutive sellout crowd at Bridgestone Arena.

New Jersey controlled the flow of play at the start of the game. They came out and drew a penalty very early in the first period, but were unable to capitalize. The momentum seemed to flip over in Nashville's favor when David Clarkson took a major penalty for boarding after hitting Ryan Suter from behind.

After that hit, the Predators seemed to play with fire and anger. They scored on the ensuing power play when Colin Wilson redirected a pass from Sergei Kostitsyn and beat Johan Hedberg.

"Leggy and Sergei were working on the half wall and I'm a lefty so I had to just go for the tip in front. Sergei made a great play and I just tipped it," Wilson said.

A little over a minute later, the Predators struck again when Jerred Smithson scored on a great pass from Jordin Tootoo. Nashville had completely turned the tide after the hit on Suter, and took all of the momentum.

"That penalty was a huge penalty and that's what we capitalized on. I think it really made our team mad," Wilson said.

The Devils and the Predators battled back in forth in the second period, but the Predators took too many penalties at the end of the period. In the beginning of the third period, Ilya Kovalchuk took advantage of a 5-on-3 advantage and fired a missile past Pekka Rinne to pull the Devils within one.

At 7:57 of the third period, Clarkson tied the game on a great pass from Mattias Tedenby. The game would remain tied through the third period and in the overtime frame. The Devils would get two beautiful goals from Kovalchuk and Zach Parise in the shootout, and Hedberg stopped both of Nashville's attempts. New Jersey escaped with the victory, and the Preds were left with just the one point.

For two teams that don't play each other often, this game was a chippy one. Brian McGrattan and Cam Janssen squared off in what seemed like one of the longest fights in the history of the Predators. There were several skirmishes throughout the game, and it had a bit of a playoff feel to it.

"I think any time somebody goes up 2-0 it's going to get a little bit chippy. I think we're both two gritty teams so when those two things collide it's going to get chippy out there, and that's exactly what happened.

One of the big bright spots for the Predators in this game was the play of Wilson. He was around the net all night, and played one of the most complete games of his career.

"I want to score goals so I was going around the net. There were rebounds there, and I wish I could have potted those. It would have helped out, but that's just the way I'm trying to play," Wilson said.

Wilson seems to have really grown up over the offseason. He's much more mature, and has more focus so far this year. During the summer, Wilson had a mental coach to help him work on being more focused and prepared. The results are showing on the ice.

"It's helped quite a bit. I'm learning to get a lot more focused. I'm going to be more prepared for games and that's exactly what I want," Wilson said.

Nashville will leave for Edmonton on Sunday, and will take on the Oilers on Monday night to open their first Western Canadian trip of the year.

Hockey Night in Nashville's 3 Stars of the game:
1. Ilya Kovalchuk (NJ)
2. Colin Wilson (NSH)
3. Pekka Rinne (NSH)

3 Stars by Nashville Media:
1. Ilya Kovalchuk (NJ)
2. Colin Wilson (NSH)
3. Johan Hedberg (NJ)

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