Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Smith's goal-less streak hits 11 games in Preds shootout win

The Nashville Predators defeated the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday night in a shootout by a 2-1 score in front of the 10th sellout crowd of the year at Bridgestone Arena.

Nashville got it's lone goal in regulation in the third period on a tip-in by Jordin Tootoo. Jonathon Blum fired a shot from the point that was redirected by Tootoo and past Josh Harding.

Minnesota responded with a goal of their own at 16:01 of the third period when Dany Heatley was able to sneak a wrap-around past the out-stretched pad of Pekka Rinne. Colin Wilson scored the lone goal for the Predators in a shootout, and the Wild failed to score on all three of their shootout attempts.

The line of Martin Erat, David Legwand and Craig Smith really played well in this game. While they didn't register a goal, the line really controlled the play when they were in the game.

"I thought, at times, we were kind of scrambling in their zone. I guess we were kind of making it tough for them because we were really moving good, and we were making good plays. I think one thing we did good was when it was time to take the puck to the net, I think we were trying to get it there," Smith said.

Smith, who started the year on a blistering pace with seven goals in his first 15 games, hasn't scored a goal in his last 11 games. He had a few good chances against the Wild, but was unable to capitalize. Nashville really needs him to start putting the puck in the net, and he feels the same way.

"Oh my gosh yes. Yeah. I could use one, but the team is winning right now so I'm just going to keep controlling what I can control. I'd like for them to come soon, but that's out of my control. All I can do is shoot the puck and try to make plays for others guys to get pucks in the net. Eventually they'll start to go in. Hopefully they'll come in bunches," Smith said.

This was the second game that Nashville had to play without superstar defenseman Shea Weber. They responded pretty well tonight, only surrendering the one goal. The Predators' forwards really seemed to be defensively strong in their own end.

"I think everybody is really working together, not to say any more than usual, but right now with having (Weber) out we've got to have our forwards coming back and helping out in the defensive zone maybe a little more than usual. But I think everybody is pulling together well. We've got some young defensemen coming in and I think everybody is playing well and trying to fill that hole as much as possible," Smith said.

Rinne, who had been struggling as of late, played a magnificent game. He stopped 34 of 35 shots and didn't allow a goal in the shootout. If he gets back to his Vezina Trophy-caliber self, it will make dealing with the loss of Weber a little easier.

"He's playing well. He's been playing well all year. He had a great game, and hopefully he can keep that going. Hopefully we can prevent some of those opportunities where he has to stop them, but he's doing his job. When there is a play to be made, he's always there to make it. We're happy to have him there, and we're going to try to make it easier on him," Smith said.

The Predators will travel to St. Louis on Friday to take on the Blues. Stay tuned to Hockey Night in Nashville for live updates on Friday night from Scottrade Center.

Hockey Night in Nashville's 3 Stars of the game:
1. Pekka Rinne(NSH)
2. Josh Harding(MIN)
3. Jordin Tootoo(NSH)

Official 3 Stars:
1. Pekka Rinne(NSH)
2. Josh Harding(MIN)
3. Jonathon Blum(NSH)

(Photo Credit: Leanne Charles)


  1. You know now that I think about it, has Smith scored a goal since he missed the empty netter?

  2. He's got one goal since then. It came against Buffalo.

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