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GAME REVIEW: Preds v. Hurricanes – 09.26.09

Let’s hope Patric Hornqvist doesn’t learn that the less he shoots, the more he scores.

The Predators fell to the visiting Carolina Hurricanes 5-2 and the 22-year old winger may have only had one of the goals but, personally, it was a big one.

The second year Swede has been shooting the puck with reckless abandon every chance he gets, but to no avail. In the three pre-season games he’s played in this year, he was tied for the team lead with 19 shots. Keep in mind the forwards tied with the second most have seven.

That’s a 12 shot difference in case there was any confusion.

Just as he did last season, Hornqvist has been peppering the opposition’s net with pucks. The only problem is, he hasn’t scored in his previous 19 NHL games. Tack on his three contests of the pre-season and 0 of his last 53 shots on goal have found the back of the net.

Tonight he logged just one shot. And it went in.

Filling in for Steve Sullivan on the top line, he earned a lot of rolled eyes and groans by the Predators faithful who remembered him in the same position last year. Those groans quickly turned to cheers however as he not only scored his first goal on NHL ice in over 11 months, but he also looked completely different than last season. He was moving well, making things happen, forcing defenseman to respect him a little more and even grinding it out in the tough areas. His goal, after all, was scored by jamming at a loose puck in front of the net.

“I got my confidence back,” Hornqvist said. “Those guys are good and I try to be right in the slot there in front of the net. It’s easy to play with those guys, I can’t complain.”

But Hornqvist wasn’t the only story of he game. Goaltender Pekka Rinne has been under much scrutiny for his inflated goals-against average in the pre-season. Preds fans are all too familiar with the previous season’s starting goalie having trouble the following season. Luckily, Rinne could not be faulted for the score tonight.

Of the four goals he allowed on the 23 shots he faced, Rinne was at fault for maybe one of them - at most. One of the weirdest bounced in recent memory occured tonight when a shot from the blueline that ricocheted off the glass and back over the net. It was then was batted in out of mid-air by Eric Staal. It was just that kind of night for Rinne and the Predators.

Heck, even the empty-net goal by Hurricane defenseman Tim Conboy went off of Dan Hamhuis‘ stick. In soccer it would’ve been deemed an “own goal.”

So Nashville can thankfully chalk this one up to “pre-season” and “weird bounces”

They’d better get it out of their system now though because starting October 3, that excuse won’t fly anymore.

 

GAME NOTES:
* Sullivan did not play as scheduled. He tweeted before the game that he was “banging out bike ride and workout so I can watch the game with my boys from my box.” Head Coach Barry Trotz said that he was held out for precautionary reasons and that he will not go in tomorrow night’s game as well.
* The other Nashville goal tonight was scored by JP Dumont from Jason Arnott and, yes, Hornqvist.
* With Hornqvist’s two-point night, he now leads the team in points (6).
* Although not exactly a conventional line, the combination of Triston Grant, Cal O’Reilly and Jordin Tootoo played really well tonight. They created chances consistently and were three of a handful of guys that were on their A-game. Tootoo even drew a penalty early on.
* Marcel Goc turned in yet another strong performance, further solidifying that number three center position with the big club. Trotz on Goc: “He was really good tonight. Good on draws, good positionally, one-on-one battles he was really strong. Marcel’s been strong all through training camp.”
* Trotz confirmed that Francis Bouillon will be in the lineup tomorrow night against Columbus.