Preds Chomp 2 Points Despite Late, Desperate Flailing Motions by Colorado

DENVER, CO - MARCH 31: Shea Weber #6 of the Nashville Predators allows the Pepsi Center to bask in the presence of his machismo on March 31, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Nashville rolled into the Pepsi Center as one of the hotter teams in the NHL and looked to complete the series sweep against the Avs for the first time in team history.  Brian Elliott got the start in net for the Avalanche while former OKC Tumbleweed Pekke Rinne held court at the other end.  Colorado has been using the words "spoiler" a lot lately as that's pretty much all they have to play for at this point.  Ryan Wilson is still dinged up so we got to see some more Cameron Gaunce on the blueline this evening.  The Altiboobs show Ryan O'Reilly some Radar Love in the pregame with some in depth questions like "Is it fun to score?"  Maybe the tank is organizational-wide?  Anyway, on to the game...

The Predators immediately set to the business of denying opportunities and methodically putting shots on net.  In what would become a theme of the night, the Martin Erat line generates tons of possession and seems to cause match-up problems as I notice they're on the ice against the Baby Pairing (Gaunce and Jonas Holos) and John-Michael Liles and Ryan O'Byrne.  The play threatens to be balanced at times with some nice drop passes and slapshots from both teams on display, but then we get to see stuff like a hustling Jordan Tootoo passing to a streaking Shane O'Brien while Holos and Gaunce buy a ticket and do an impression of a pylon respectively, but Elliott makes a save.  We also see relatively new Nashvillian Mike Underwood Fisher get two or three shots in the period but Elliott totally acts like he's seen them before. 

However, the mediocre times couldn't last forever as the Preds break through with the first goal of the game when the Other, Other White Meat Pairing chases the play behind the net leaving David Jones to fan on the centering pass that ended up on Colin Wilson's stick for a millisecond before being roofed over Elliott.  About the only other highlights of the period are Tootoo catching and edge and going ass-over-teakettle, Rinne passing with his catching glove (and if you don't think I'll try that in my next game, you don't know me very well), and Shea Weber's ridiculously masculine beard.  The period ends with the Predators leading in shots 12-9 with the Avs appearing content to play most of the last few minutes in their end or the neutral zone.  Even the appearance of the Easter line (Paul Stastny, Matt Duchene, and Milan Hejduk) in the last bit of the period results in nothing worth mentioning.

More of the same as the second period starts with the Avalanche coming out flatter than a witch's knockers.  Elliott is called on early and often as the Cherub Pairing gets victimized repeatedly and long possessions are had by every line coming over the boards for Nashville.  Some of the best defensive plays include the net being knocked off it's moorings to prevent a juicy rebound from getting whipped past Elliott (as everybody wearing Burgundy and Frostbite Blue stand in shock as the puck lies 8 feet in front of the net) and Joel Ward going off for a change when a weak clearing attempt dribbles his way.  The one or two spurts of offense by Colorado (think 'nocturnal emissions') are nullified in workmanlike fashion before going the other way to lead to even more shots by Nashvilzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.....

Sorry, must have nodded off there... Let's see shots are 30-12 after two, the Preds scored another goal (Tootoo from Cody Franson and Erat) and the Avs kill off two consecutive Power Plays.

Apparently, a derriere-chewing must have occurred during the second intermission as the Avalanche acted like they might actually possibly consider thinking about effort to start the third.  The result is mixed though as while they're generating opportunities better than the first two periods, they aren't exactly great opportunities and at times Nashville seems to be allowing the Avs some scoring chances out of boredom.  The game has reached the point where it's sapped my will to live and I'm thinking of phoning in the recap.  It's boring because the Preds are business-like and efficient and the Avs are terrible.

Erik Johnson does decide that he needs to increase the Nashville man-games lost to injury total by walloping Patric Hornqvist with an open ice hit that was an obvious interference penalty that went uncalled.  Later, Ward bravely lays down about six inches in front of Johnson's slapper and has to leave to ice to get what appears to be a new, unbroken shin guard.  Good Howard, that's a heavy shot.  The next trip down the ice, an up-to-this-point horrible Brandon Yip clangs a shot of the post and the 546 people in attendance look up from their game programs and iPhones.  Not long after this, the Pepsi Center crowd decides belligerent is the desired emotion after a uncalled tripping of Phillipe Dupius.

The Predators score again, this time on the PP about 13 minutes in.  Cody McLeod was in the box for roughing after he skated through the net area after a whistle like an out of control squirt.  He then started face-washing anybody wearing a white jersey. I'm pretty sure that doesn't qualify as a 'good' penalty. Anyway, the Preds enter the zone on the rush and Erat victimizes O'Byrne with a pass to himself through O'Byrne's legs and then roofs it over a poke-missing Elliott for the 3rd goal of the game. The stench of a season sweep begins wafting through my high-definition television. Mr. Underwood and streaking Sergei Kostitsyn get the assists.

The building and the team continue the wake-up as Stastny bangs in a sweet between the leg pass from Hejduk as the Easter line rolls out after the Preds PP goal. That give Hejduk his 399th career assist.  Duchene gets the other helper and the Papoose Pairing finally lands in the plus column.  Time, however, it is a-runnin' out.  Predictably, with less than two minutes to play, the Quadragesimal Line is joined by David Jones as Elliott heads to the bench. It actually results in a goal as Liles' bad-angle pass gets deflected top shelf by a net-crashing Jones for his 26th of the year with just over a minute to play.  After the central ice drop, the Avalanche get the puck deep, but can't generate any shots till the buzzer, as their face-off domination disappears on two Nashville icing calls.  Hejduk manages a bad angle shot, but all it generates is some pucker for Rinne as Johnson tries to rape David Legwand with the goalpost.

In the end, the Avs flirted with effort for about three minutes of the first and most of the third.  The Predators however, not only flirted, they got the hook-up and sealed the deal with a consistent effort from puck drop to final buzzer.  On the bright side, despite a scare when Johnson went into the boards hard in the 2nd, nobody got injured for the home team tonight.

Lines

  • Stoa, Stastny, Hejduk
  • McClement, Duchene, Winnik
  • Jones, O'Reilly, Porter
  • Dupuis, McLeod, Yip
  • Liles, O'Byrne
  • Hunwick, Johnson
  • Gaunce, Holos (I dub thee the Bambino Blueline!!)

Quick Hits

  • Liles ended Tootoo's night by sitting him down in the corner in the second period.  Looked like an awkward landing on the shoulder was the culprit.  I'm sure it'll be reported as a LBI tomorrow.
  • Ryan O'Reilly had a great shift on the tail end of one of the 2nd period PK's.  Sprawling stick work showed a ton of effort and highlighted that he knew the game was still up for grabs.
  • The Avalanche centers were dominant in the face-off dot all night.  Duchene @ 75%, McClement @ 67%, Stastny @ 65%, and O'Reilly @ 56%.  All of them were +63% in the defensive zone too.
  • The Mrs. digs the sepia tones Altitude uses going into the commercial break. She gives them too much credit as it's more likely a missed assignment in the booth as we all know the they have to manually cue 40 mm reels for footage.
  • Julie can't remember the game's score over a span of less than two minutes during intermission. You can TELL she's reading it when the tunnel interview is over. You can also tell that the teleprompter guy is rolling the text super-slow to screw with her. That or she has the reading comprehension of a Detroit 5th grader.
  • Rinne is GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD.  I wonder if having consistent goal coaching has anything to do with his success?

Highlights

 

Next Up

Tomorrow night against the Still-In-Phoenix Coyotes.

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