Despite loss, Preds find resiliency in Washington…

When a team needs to find confidence, giving up the first goal and to the world’s best player and after taking two consecutive penalties isn’t exactly the way to do that.

All was not lost, however. Nashville finally showed the resiliency that Head Coach Barry Trotz has been preaching from the start of their slump by battling back to force overtime – and then a shootout – only to lose 3-2.

But, to battle back, a team must fall behind first. And that’s exactly what happened.

Despite getting two straight breakaways while killing off the Wade Belak penalty, it was Washington who scored first during the Predators’ second penalty kill. Continuing his pace for 50-in-50, Alexander Ovechkin netted his first of two goals while Jerred Smithson was sitting in the penalty box.

Ovechkin scored again with less than two minutes left in the opening period and Pred fans everywhere whispered “Here we go again.”

With just over five miutes left in the second stanza, however, the long awaited breakthrough happened. Patric Hornqvist carried into the offensive zone and dropped a pass for the trailing Shea Weber who blasted one past Caps goalie Semyon Varlamov for his first of the season. Then, just a few minutes later, a break goes the Preds’ way as opposed to the other way around, as it has been all week.

JP Dumont fired a harmless shot on net from the corner. With Cal O’Reilly distracting Varlamov’s attention at the near post, the puck slid across the length of the end line, bounced off the goalie’s skate and in.

Going into the third period, the Predators had accomplished three major obstacles they hadn’t accomplished in the last four games: They had overcome more than a one-goal deficit, they had scored more than a single goal and they had a tie score going into the third period. Then, once the third period was over, they had accomplished something else: they earned a point in the standings.

With that precious point, the Preds earned some much-needed confidence and carried it into the extra session, forcing a shootout in which neither Steve Sullivan, David Legwand or Martin Erat could convert. Ovechkin scored on Washington’s second attempt, proving the difference maker once it was all over.

So, at least early on in the season, there’s a formula developing: Nashville Predators + shootout - Mike Santorelli = loss.

The good news for Nashville is that, if you hadn’t seen or known about the previous three games, you wouldn’t know anything had been wrong with them. They played a solid game overall, matching one of the league’s best teams blow-for-blow and Dan Ellis turned in another outstanding performance. They even got goals from two players that had yet to tally a score, which they were in desperate need of.

All good signs looking ahead to a really tough road trip.

 

GAME NOTES:
* The Predators didn’t register a single shot on goal for the first 10:31 of the second period.
* Kevin Klein was on the ice for both Washington goals, extending his dubious distinction of having been on the ice for every goal scored against the Preds in the last two games (five) and six of the last seven goals allowed.
* Rookie Cody Franson, playing in his NHL Debut, showed off that quick release he’s known for in the AHL when he let a wrister go from the blueline on the power play and almost tallied Nashville’s first goal of the game.
* Captain Jason Arnott hobbled to the bench late in the third period on what appeared to be a leg injury. Luckily for Nashville, he did return.
* Marcel Goc, the best Preds player yet to score a point this season, finally got on the scoresheet on Saturday night. He assisted on Weber’s first goal of the season.
* While earning their first point since the home opener, the Predators still have yet to win a game since… well… the home opener.
* Hornqvist now leads all Nashville forwards this season with a plus-3 rating.
* With Arnott’s three shots on goal against the Caps on Saturday, he increases his team-lead to 31.