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Preds play well but fall to Flyers in shootout

No Shea Weber. No Kevin Klein. No problem.

In front of another sold out crowd at Bridgestone Arena, the young Nashville Predators defense played a great game and gave their team a chance to win but, in the end, lost in the shootout to the Philadelphia Flyers.

Roman Josi, Seth Jones, Ryan Ellis, Victor Bartley, Mattias Ekholm and last-minute recall Joe Piskula had a combined 305 games NHL experience coming into the night.

“I thought we played a heck of a game,” Head Coach Barry Trotz said. “We created a lot of chances. Every forward had a shot on net, we
drew six penalties tonight, we had a breakaway in overtime and we hit a post in overtime. I feel that we should have won the hockey game, but we didn’t.”

Rookie netminder Marek Mazanec was stellar once again, making 22 saves.

“I think our team defense is the answer,” Trotz said. “Maz has played pretty solid. It gives him some confidence but I think our overall team defense has been pretty good. In the last eight games, I think we’ve only given up 13 goals. That’s not bad and it gives us a chance to win every night.”

The Flyers drew first blood early in the contest. Philadelphia captain Claude Giroux bagged his fourth goal of the season when the Nashville defense focused on the puck carrier, Sean Couturier, and two other Flyers crashing the net. Giroux, the late man, pounced on the loose puck and rifled a shot past Manazec to open the scoring.

Nashville answered immediately, however. Exactly 1:00 later, Mike Fisher took a gorgeous centering pass from Patric Hornqvist in the corner and snapped a shot five-hole on Steve Mason to tie the game.

Neither team could break the deadlock until the third period but, when they did, it was the Predators who would take the lead. Colin Wilson, who has been snake bit over the past week or so, finally found a way to score. The former Boston University Terrier skated down the half wall and put a backhander toward the net, probably in hopes of Fisher getting to a rebound. Instead, the puck slid under Mason to make it 2-1.

The Flyers got the equalizer thanks to a beautiful spin-o-rama move by Andrej Meszaros. In an attempt to come out of the corner and generate a scoring chance, Meszaros spun off of Craig Smith and fed the puck to Couturier in front of the net. The 2011 first round pick snapped the puck past Mazanec from point-blank range to tie the game.

After an eventful overtime, the two teams went to a shootout. The Flyers used a Vincent Lacavalier goal and three Mason saves in the exhibition to propel them to the victory.

“It was an ugly win,” Giroux said. “I think we know that we can play better and that we can have better plays out there. At the end we got it done and we just have to move forward and try to get better here.”

Nashville will try to rebound against the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday. Vancouver is just one slot higher than the Preds in the Western Conference standings.

Puck drops at 7:00pm Central.

MY THREE STARS (as voted on with 5:00 remaining in regulation):
1. Sean Couturier (PHI)
2. Steve Mason (PHI)
3. Colin Wilson (NSH)

1. Vincent Lecavalier (PHI)
2. Colin Wilson (NSH)
3. Sean Couturier (PHI)