Pekka Rinne made 30 saves, leading the Nashville Predators to a 3-0 win versus the Montreal Canadiens. Steve Sullivan, Marcel Goc and Francis Bouillon both all had two points to lead the way offensively for the squad from Music City.
In spite of the 16-9 shot advantage for the visitors, the first period was one where both teams had moments of sustained pressure. Both goaltenders were excellent, keeping the game scoreless thanks to many spectacular saves. Notably, Pekka Rinne made an impressive plunging save, keeping a Lapierre rebound chance out with the shaft of his stick.
Early in the middle frame, after nearly 90 seconds of continuous pressure, Marcel Goc opened the scoring for the Preds. Former Hab Francis Bouillon joined the attack and made a nice pass to setup the goal. Although Montreal obtained three consecutive powerplays in the second, the Canadiens did not manage to capitalize against one of the league’s worst penalty killing unit. Nonetheless, the man-advantages did allow the Habs to gain some momentum and slow the Predators, who obtained only 5 shots in the period.
The final frame saw Nashville get many quality chances on an early powerplay, but desperate defensive play by Montreal prevented a goal. Cody Franson had a golden opportunity in front of a gaping net, but Josh Gorges made a last-minute dive to block the shot. After the successful penalty-kill, Montreal slowly gathered momentum, but it was all for naught as Cal O’Reilly doubled his squad’s lead, deflecting the puck past Price after a beautiful pass from Steve Sullivan. Shortly after, Marcel Goc took a long shot between Josh Gorges’ legs and surprised Price, beating him stick side. In the end, the Habs netminder would finish with 27 saves.
The game ended on a worrisome note for Canadiens’ fans, as Hornqvist and Spacek awkwardly collided near the players bench. The Czech defender fell face first into the low boards, stayed on the ice for a few moments and then quickly headed to the dressing room.
HW 3 Stars of the Night
1. Andrei Kostitsyn Of Montreal’s top-six forwards, Andrei Kostitsyn was easily the most dynamic. He cut to the net, used his shot frequently, drew a penalty and even made a few nice defensive plays. However, much to my chagrin, he still passes up opportunities to drive to the crease.
Statline: 0 G, 0 A, Even, 4 shots, 4 missed shots, 1 hit, 16:11 TOI
2. Lars Eller The snake-bitten Danish forward had easily one of his best games with the Habs tonight. He made many nice passes, including one in the first period that led to a Tom Pyatt chance, and also obtained a glorious chance off a tip in the second. Sadly, if one of his best games is a pointless one, then there is still clearly work to be done.
Statline: 0 G, 0 A, Even, 1 shot, 1 missed shot, 4 hits, 12:48 TOI
3. Alexandre Picard Picard played a solid, safe game but also managed to direct the puck at the net with regularity. His five shots led the team and he did not look out of place on the powerplay.
Statline: 0 G, 0 A, Even, 5 shots, 5 missed shots, 1 blocked shot, 2 hits, 17:19 TOI
HM: Francis Bouillon A heart-and-soul player if there ever was one, Bouillon contributed to his team’s victory in absolutely every facet. He was solid defensively, blocked shots, played physically and added two points. He is an alternate captain with the Predators, is intelligent in his own end and makes a cap-friendly 1.35 million dollars. Many are disappointed that he was not resigned in Montreal and, well, I am one of them.
Statline: 0 G, 2 A, +2, 3 shots, 3 missed shots, 2 blocked shots, 6 hits, 22:20 TOI
Final Thought Dear P.K Subban, I like you, I really do. But, please shoot less and more quickly. As Joel Bouchard rightly pointed out on RDS, you take far too long to wind up your shot and, consequently, it often gets blocked. It is the best league on the planet and players are quite adept at blocking shots. Ask your teammates Hal Gill and Josh Gorges, they know the subject well. Also, you do not always have to shoot. You have become a bit too predictable on the blueline, especially with the man advantage, and defenders are adjusting. And, P.K, I suspect you want to be anything but predictable.
Louis Moustakas can be reached for comments, questions, cross-checks and, of course, fan-mail at [email protected]