Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Backchecking proves to be key in Preds' win over Caps



The Nashville Predators defeated the Washington Capitals in dramatic fashion on Tuesday night by a 3-1 score in front of 14,863 at Bridgestone Arena.

Both Nashville and Washington had tremendous chances all night, and both Pekka Rinne and Tomas Vokoun were spectacular in this game. The game remained scoreless until 15:14 of the third period when Troy Brouwer scored to give the Capitals a 1-0 lead.

Nashville would respond just 28 seconds later when Martin Erat converted on an excellent pass from Shea Weber to tie the game at one. Weber came all the way in the zone and made Vokoun believe he was going to shoot. He made a no-look pass through the crease, and Erat was able to put the puck in the net.

"It's always great when you can respond like that. (Weber) made a great play jumping up and (Erat) finished it off," said Predators forward Matt Halischuk.

The Predators would take the lead with just 24.7 seconds remaining in regulation when Colin Wilson made a great all-around play and was rewarded. Wilson chased the puck down in the offensive zone, waited for his teammates to complete the line change, and then made a great pass to Erat. Erat was able to draw Vokoun out of the net and find Wilson right in front of the net for the beautiful game-winner.

Weber would add an empty-net goal for the Preds, and Nashville walked away with a victory over the Capitals for the first time since 2005.

Nashville's backchecking was very impressive. Craig Smith, Jerred Smithson, Jordin Tootoo and Halischuk all broke up odd-man rushes for the Capitals throughout this game. While Pekka Rinne was nothing short of fantastic in this game, the backchecking of the Predators prevented several good scoring chances for Washington.

"They are a good offensive team, and you try to limit their space by creating some back pressure and taking them away from cutting around and using the middle of the ice. We just tried to do that and limit their space," Halischuk said.

After the Predators tied the game, the crowd gave one of their famous T.V. timeout standing ovations. It seemed to have a big effect on Nashville's play during the last few minutes.

"It's great. Anytime we can get that, it's a big boost. It's always great to see," Halischuk said.

With the win, Nashville moves to 9-5-3 on the season. There are still three games remaining on this homestand, which gives the Predators a big opportunity to continue collecting points.

"We want to be solid at home. It was a good start by getting the win tonight, and we're looking forward to the next game," Halischuk said.

Nashville will host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night. Former Predators Cody Franson and Matthew Lombardi will likely be in the lineup on Thursday night.

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

3 Stars by Nashville Media:
1. Pekka Rinne(NSH)
2. Colin Wilson(NSH)
3. Martin Erat(NSH)

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