The Nashville Predators didn’t start off great tonight, but in the end they played well enough to beat a bad Ottawa Senators team.
After back to back disappointing losses in Vancouver and Calgary, the Preds needed to bounce back with a win at home. They got the win and they did so by not trying to complicate things to much, according to defenseman Ryan Ellis.
“We were disappointed with our play on the road,” Ellis said after the game. “At times it was good, at times it wasn’t. Tonight we came in, simplified a lot of areas of our game and the result was there. If we continue with that game plan, I think we’ll like the results.”
That plan led to a 3-1 win over the Senators. They out shot Ottawa 36 to 26 and also had 13 high danger chances to Ottawa’s 8. At times in the 2nd and 3rd period, Nashville dominated the Ottawa zone.
While part of that plan involved containing a depleted Senators offense that was without Matt Duchene, the Preds were able to prevent the Senators from getting any momentum even after their early 1-0 lead. The Preds used a simple, but effective zone trap to stop the Senators from gaining the zone with ease. This clogged up the middle of the ice and allowed the Preds to control the game.
Despite their simplified game plan, Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis connected on an impressive goal in the 2nd period to put the Preds ahead. It was a beautiful play that Ellis mentioned was just a part of the chemistry he and Josi have.
“I mean, we’ve been playing together for a while. He’s so mobile, so if I can get moving, it helps him out and vice versa. We try to create as much space as we can for each other.”
Bad start, better finish
Zack Smith scored 26 seconds into the game, getting a friendly deflection to bounce by Pekka Rinne. It was a goal that Rinne would want to have back, but it counted nonetheless.
Austin Watson responded later in the period when he deflected a Mattias Ekholm pass into the net behind Craig Anderson. That tied the game at one, but more importantly it shifted momentum in the Preds favor.
In the 2nd period, the Preds poured more shots on Anderson, eventually going in front 2-1 on a beautiful play by Ryan Ellis and Roman Josi. The give and go at the top of the zone led to the laser shot from Ellis.
The Preds carried that momentum into the 3rd period, though they had to kill off a four minute minor penalty in the process. Craig Smith made it a 3-1 lead when he smacked home a rebound by Anderson on the rush.
Pekka Rinne finished the game with 25 saves. It was a nice recovery game by Rinne, who didn’t look his usual self in Calgary and Vancouver.
The Predators will need to string a few wins like this together with big stars like P.K. Subban and Filip Forsberg still out. If they can keep the game simple, as they did tonight, they should be in good shape.
— Featured image via Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports —