All the hockey was smooshed into the third frame of this one, with a final score that, once again, doesn't reflect Colorado's effort tonight.
An early almost goal that banked off both posts and rode right along the goal line, followed by matching penalties, a trip by JS Giguere and unsportsmanlike (diving) by Rich Clune, resulted in a four-on-four. The Avs controlled the puck for almost the entire two minutes, but they were unable to convert.
Until the Preds took another penalty with 7:25 left in the first frame (David Legwand/tripping), it was nothing but back and forth play with lots of center ice battles for possession. The Avs power play looked neither good nor bad, decent puck control but few real chances. The Predators got a couple of good scoring ops immediately following their kill, but Jiggy--and a missed net by Patric Hornqvist--kept them off the board.
Brad Malone decided he needed to spend some time in the box to even out the short-handed time, taking a cross-checking penalty at 15:38. Nashville also controlled the puck well during their power play chance, but Colorado kept them to the outside, limiting their chances. A couple of good stops by Jiggy helped.
With a bit over two minutes left in the first, Malone and Clune apparently missed the penalty box and got into a (useless) fight. It was a pathetic showing by both players and did nothing for either team.
The first wound down with nothing of consequence and matching donuts for the score. The Predators had 13 shots on net to the Avs' 5. One sentence recap: what a boring period of hockey.
The second period started right where the first left off: lots of nothing happening. The most exciting thing that happened in the first ten minutes was Cody McLeod hurting his thumb on a typical play along the boards. The Avs did up their offense a bit as they evened up shots on net at 14. The next most exiting thing in the second was that Ryan O'Byrne shot a puck right in Aaron Babooshka Palushaj's face, leaving some questions about the security of his teeth. With just over 6 left in the middle frame, Jiggy made some more of those clusterfuck in the crease saves. Another exciting moment came when a 102 mph Shea Weber slapshot nailed Erik Johnson right in the bread-basket. He went straight to the locker room. Oh and something also apparently happened to PA Parenteau as Sunnyside McNab said, "
Pimento Parenteau has returned to the bench." I totally missed it. I think I was sleeping when it happened.
An actual moment of hockey excitement came when Jan Hejda sent a perfect pass to Legwand, who got two chances on Giguere, one of which went wide. Then O'Byrne took the unusual hooking penalty, putting the Preds on the power play. At the same time, Johnson returned to the bench.
The uneventful power play/penalty kill closed out the period. One sentence recap: why do the hockey gods hate the Avalanche?
Third period started with Nashville leading on shots on net and chances, but the Avs wooping them on hits. I like this physical incarnation of the Avs.
Then, with only a minute expired, Matt Duchene gets his 15th goal of the year, using his speed to take the puck at the Avs' blueline and smoke both defenders on the way to the Preds' net. A quick wrister screamed through Pekke Rinne's fifth hole to give the Avalanche a 1-0 lead. The funnest part of this play was how all five Nashville skaters slumped in resignation by the time Dutchy hit the top of the slot.
With just under four minutes gone, Tyson Barrie took a stick to the face, giving the Avs another power play as Chris Mueller took a rest for two minutes. Surprisingly (or not), the PP didn't produce much for Nashville to be nervous about.
Weber decided he liked injuring Avs with ridiculously fast and hard slap shots, giving Greg Zanon an owie after blocking one of those canons. They did produce some good chances for the Preds, so there you go.
Malone traveled back to the box again at the 8:01 mark (high sticking). At that point, I wondered if he'd get any more shifts the rest of the night, especially after Hornqvist tied things up with a crazy scramble rebound goal that was reviewed. It stayed a good goal because replays showed that it was tapped into the net with wood rather than kicked into the net with skates. (Yes, Malone got more shifts...a lot more shifts.)
Random observation: Nashville loves to play Whack-a-Puck in the crease. NTTAWWT.
The goal gave some energy to the Preds' game, but the boys in white re-established their tempo at the midway mark due to the mesmerizing play by Matt "the Man" Duchene. It didn't last, unfortunately, as the next five minutes saw the Preds playing keep-away, and doing so very effectively. Thanks to some heads-up play by Old Man Jiggy, the score stay tied at one.
In the final minutes, the total inability of the Avalanche to clear the zone, in addition to the Predators' physical crease presence, proved to be too much. Legwand batted one home to give Nashville a 2 to 1 lead. An empty net goal sealed the deal with a 3-1 final. One sentence recap: Well, that blows.
Cheryl's Three Homer Stars:
1. JS Giguere
2. Matt Duchene
3. All the guys who got injured but kept playing