As the first period got underway, both teams were playing a very cautious game. Neither team wanted to open themselves up for an odd man rush or a bad goal. As the period wore on though, both teams started opening it up a bit. It all seemed to get started about 7 to 8 minutes in when Nashville held the puck in the offensive zone and got a few awesome scoring chances, fortunately for the Avs, Andy was equal to the task. It just seems like the more work he gets during the game, the better he is. While most of the shots were from outside the prime scoring areas, he did make 14 saves in the first period.
The Avs got the scoring started at the 16:39 mark of the first period. Chris Stewart showed his blazing speed and blew past a Nashville defenseman to setup a 2 on 1, then sent a perfect pass to Cody McLeod who sent it top shelf past Pekka Rinne for his 7th goal of the, and his 2nd in his last 3 games. 1-0 Avs.
As the second period got underway, the Avs came out flying! The completely dominated the first several minutes, getting a few quality scoring chances on Rinne.
The momentum definitely started to swing once Kyle Quincey was called for holding at 4:39 of the second period. In his defense, it was a penalty he had to take. Marcel Goc was all alone in front of the net and would have had a glorious scoring chance. The momentum officially swung to the Predators when Paul Stastny was called for delay of game as he shot the puck into the stands from just inside of the defensive blue line. That gave the Preds more than a minute and a half of a 5 on 3 power play.
Just as the penalty to Quincey had expired, Jason Arnott took a hard shot from the point that was tipped by Patrick Hornqvist. Nevertheless it beat Andy and ended the streak of penalties killed at 25 (counting the one that ended just prior to the goal).
With the momentum clearly on their side, the Predators did not let their foot off the gas and continued to the pressure the play in the offensive zone. After Andy made a couple of great saves, he tried poking the puck out of harms way. Instead, he put it on a tee for Joel Ward who whacked it into the net, 2-1 Predators.
As the period continued, Nashville continued to play strong. Then, behind the net David Legwand was called for high sticking behind the Avalanche net. This put the Avs on the power play for the 1st time in the game. The power play was moving the puck well, then as the puck found it's way into the slot, Matt Duchene buried a wrist shot from the hash marks for his team leading 18th goal of the season. It was also his 14th goal scored on the road. Game tied 2-2.
The tie, however, didn't last long. Only 23 seconds as a matter of fact. With the puck deep in the Avs territory, the puck was moved to the point and Jason Arnott let an absolute BOMB go from the point that eluded Craig Anderson. It was Arnott's 14th on the season. The Altiboobs stated this and I hate to agree, but that's what a hard shot from the point can give you. 3-2 Preds.
Remember that whole thing about having a hard shot from the point and just how useful it can be on the power play? Yeah, Jason Arnott proved it again as he let another bomb go that was tipped in by Hornqvist with just 40 seconds to play in the second period. That, in my humble opinion, would be the back breaker. 4-2 Preds. Kinda wishing I wouldn't have made that prediction in my preview.
According to sources, Coach Sacco had another explosion in the Avs locker room during the second intermission hoping to inspire the same kind of period that the Avs played against the Blue Jackets on Tuesday. Yeah...so much for that.
The Predators came out and continued to dominate the play in every single zone. Winning all the races to the pucks, all the battles along the boards. Everything.
Just when the Avs looked like they might have had a chance to start gaining a momentum, they got a power play of a slashing call against Joel Ward. They Avs had managed to get a couple scoring chances, but then as the puck was being brought up the ice following a clear, Matt Duchene made one of the few rookie mistakes I've seen him make, he played the puck while holding a broken stick. This is probably one of most rare penalty calls in the NHL today.
NHL Rule 10.3 Broken Stick – Player -...A player whose stick is broken may participate in the game provided he drops the broken stick. A minor penalty shall be imposed for an infraction of this rule.
As the 4 on 4 expired, Steve Sullivan circled then let a slapper go from right around the faceoff dot that beat Andy high to the short side. There is not a goalie on this planet that was going to stop that shot. 5-2 Preds.
Probably the lone bright spot for the Avalanche in the 3rd period was Justin Mercier scoring his first NHL goal at the 18:39 mark of the third period. Too bad it couldn't have come on a better night for the Avs. Regardless, congrats to Justin Mercier. 5-3 Preds.
Overall, I would say that this game isn't as bad as it could have been. Andy, again, kept the game within reach for a little while, but the team in front of him just couldn't contain Arnott, Hornqvist and Sullivan. Andy ended up making 36 saves in a losing effort.
Derek's Three Stars of the Game:
3rd Star: Steve Sullivan (1G, 1A)
2nd Star: Patrick Hornqvist (2G, 1A)
1st Star: Jason Arnott (1G, 3A)
Game Notes: Matt Duchene extended his rookie points lead (38) and is now leading the team in goals (18). With the roughing call on Craig Anderson, he is now leading all goalies in PIM with 12.