Thursday, March 8, 2012

Bouillon's defensive sequence preserves Preds' lead en route to 4-2 win

After Tuesday night's loss to the Los Angeles Kings, the Nashville Predators really focused on trying to match the desperation level of the opposition. On Thursday night against the Colorado Avalanche, they were able to do just that.

Nashville was able to get a 4-2 win over the Avalanche in front of the 19th sellout crowd of the season at Bridgestone Arena. The Predators had a lot of scoring chances in this game, and could have easily scored nine goals if not for the stellar goaltending of Semyon Varlamov. Even though the fell behind 1-0 just 1:14 into the game, the Predators looked like the more desperate team. That desperation allowed them to battle back and win the game.

"Every game throughout the season is going to be hard, and you've got to play some desperate teams like that. We've got to match the effort, and that's what we did tonight for 60 minutes. That's why we came out of here with the two points," said Predators defenseman Francis Bouillon.

After a goal by Jamie McGinn that put the Avalanche up 1-0, the Predators responded at 2:54 of the first period with a goal from Mike Fisher to tie the game at one. Brandon Yip, who was put on waivers by Colorado earlier in the year, made his former team pay when he was able to redirect a shot from the point by Roman Josi past Varlamov to give Nashville a 2-1 lead.

Colorado had a couple of really good chances to tie the game in the second period. Ryan Suter made a good defensive play to steer the puck away when the Avalanche had a wide open net. Shortly after that, Bouillon broke up and odd-man rush and laid a gigantic hit on David Jones in the following sequence to preserve the 2-1 lead.

"We had the lead 2-1, and I think that was a great play. You never know what you're going to do on a 2-on-1, but I was in good position. I just read the play and cut it. After that, I was able to get a good hit too. It was a good play," Bouillon said.

Sergei Kostitsyn gave the Predators a 3-1 lead when he scored with 31.6 seconds remaining in the second period, and gave all fans in attendance a voucher for a free Goo Goo cluster. Gabriel Landeskog's breakout pass was deflected by Matt Halischuk, and the puck found its way onto Kostitsyn's stick and into the back of the net.

Colorado brought the game within one on a goal from Paul Stastny in the third period, but that would be as close as they would get. Martin Erat added an empty-net goal to ice the game away for the Predators. Each member of Nashville's top line scored a goal in the game.

"We are pretty lucky to have players like that. They show up every game. They always give a good effort even if they don't have points," Bouillon said.

Things got a bit chippy in this game. Jordin Tootoo and Cody McLeod squared off in the second period, and there were several scrums after the whistle throughout the game. It almost had a playoff-like feel to it.

"It was kind of like the playoffs. It's going to be hard until the end. If we're going to keep moving up, that's the kind of game we have to play," Bouillon said.

With the win, Pekka Rinne set the single season franchise record for wins with 37 on the year. It wasn't his best game, but he made the saves at crucial times to keep the Avalanche from clawing their way back into the game.

The Predators will take on the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night at Bridgestone Arena in a Central Division showdown. Nashville has only beaten Detroit one time this year in the four games they have played, so they will have something to prove on Saturday night.

"It's never easy against a team like that. It's a rivalry against them and it's going to be hard. The building is going to be sold-out, and this is the type of game we have to play against Detroit too," Bouillon said.

Hockey Night in Nashville's 3 Stars of the game:
1. Sergei Kostitsyn(NSH)
2. Mike Fisher(NSH)
3. Paul Stastny(COL)

Official 3 Stars:
1. Ryan Suter(NSH)
2. Sergei Kostitsyn(NSH)
3. Paul Stastny(COL)

(Photo Credit: Leanne Charles)

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