Wednesday, April 4, 2012
The Nashville Predators were able to get a much-needed 2-1 shootout victory over the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night in front of a sold-out crowd at Bridgestone Arena. With the win, the Predators have once again passed the Detroit Red Wings for fourth place in the Western Conference standings.
Gabriel Bourque scored the lone goal in regulation for Nashville on a great all-around play by Nick Spaling that Bourque finished off. Dany Heatley scored the lone goal in regulation for the Wild on a redirection of a shot from the point.
Both goaltenders were solid in this game. Anders Linback made several key saves throughout the game, and Niklas Backstrom put on an impressive performance for the Wild. Neither team had an abundance of scoring chances on the night, but both goalies were able to make key saves at key times for their respective teams.
After an overtime period that saw Lindback make several key saves for the Predators while shorthanded, the game went to a shootout. Lindback stopped all three shooters he faced in the shootout, while Alexander Radulov scored the lone goal for the Predators to give them the 2-1 victory. Radulov made a quick deke that froze Backstrom and allowed him to release a quick shot that ended up being the game-winner.
"When the game is on the line, (Radulov) wants the puck. That's what good players do, and he's a good player," said Predators Head Coach Barry Trotz.
One noticeable theme in this game was players on both teams falling down with regularity. The puck was bouncing over sticks and around the ice all night long, and players seemed to being falling down on every shift. Craig Smith, who was playing in his first game back after being a healthy scratch for the past five games, noticed the state of the ice as well.
"It's ice late in the season. That's how it's going to be. It was getting a little choppy out there, and you're always going to have that late in the season. That's kind of the playoff atmosphere coming alive out there tonight so you just have to fight through it," Smith said.
It was a warm day on Tuesday afternoon in Music City, which may have possibly played a factor in the condition of the ice. Still, the ice was the same for both teams. The Predators played through it, and were able to come out on top.
"You've just got to play through it and just know there is going to be weird bounces and stuff," Smith said.
Nashville, now with 100 points on the season holds a one point lead over the Red Wings for the fourth spot in the Western Conference. Detroit has one game in hand on the Predators, but their remaining schedule is tough. Tuesday night's victory could go a long way toward the Predators' push for home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
"We're really trying to climb and grab that spot. Big two points and 100 points tonight," Smith said.
Hockey Night in Nashville's 3 Stars of the game:
1. Anders Lindback(NSH)
2. Niklas Backstrom(MIN)
3. Nick Spaling(NSH)
Official 3 Stars:
1. Anders Lindback(NSH)
2. Gabriel Bourque(NSH)
3. Dany Heatley(MIN)
(Photo Credit: Leanne Charles)
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