Nashville Predators 1, Colorado Avalanche 3: Not enough offense

Nashville Predators 1, Colorado Avalanche 3: Not enough offense

The Nashville Predators faced the Colorado Avalanche in the second of a two-game road trip. This is the second time the Preds face Colorado this season, having previously lost 3-5 in Colorado last month.

While the Avalanche are currently just four points ahead of the Predators in the overall standings — sitting in the second wild-card slot — facing the defending Stanley Cup champions is never an easy task, especially for a team looking to turn around a five- match drop. However, Jeremy Lauzon’s return to the blueline, and a depleted Avalanche roster missing the likes of Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog, gave some hope that things could turn in the Preds’ favor.

First

The Predators started the game with more energy than they have seemed to have lately and had an early advantage in time zone. But the first shot of the game for the Avs was an excellent scoring chance when the Preds defense allowed Valeri Nichushkin to penetrate and shoot right in front of Juuse Saros, who was standing tall. This was quickly followed by a couple more opportunities for Avs. Fortunately, Saros continued to read the plays well and kept the puck out of the net.

Halfway through the first, the Predators were on the verge of winning 6:3, but a high-quality opportunity early on meant they still led in expected goals (xGF%) according to Natural Stat Trick.

With just under 8 minutes left in the period, Ryan Johansen broke free in the slot, but hit the crossbar instead of the net.

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Two minutes later, a hooking penalty by Jordan Gross put the Avalanche on their first power play of the night. Coming into tonight’s game, the Avalanche were posting a 27.6 PP%, good for 5th in the league, while the Predators’ penalty kill has been a bit up and down. However, the Avs power play has been significantly less potent since the injury to MacKinnon.

The Avs used the power play to their advantage, holding the Preds defenders in the zone for 1:14, until a lucky deflection of the puck over the glass allowed the Preds to get on fresh defenders. In the end, the Preds’ penalty kill held firm, allowing just two unblocked shots on Saros.

With two minutes left in the period, Dante Fabbro came down the wall to put a shot at the net. However, even a tip from Johansen right in front of Georgiev wasn’t enough to get the puck through the Avalanche netminder.

With 15 seconds left in the period, Cole Smith drew a penalty from Mikko Rantanen, but the Preds were unable to get any shots on goal before the horn sounded.

Overall, it was a pretty good period for the Predators 5v5.

5v5 shot map at the end of the 1st period.
NaturalStatTrick.com

But a full 2-minute power play for the Avalanche gave them an edge on special teams and overall.

Second

The Predators started the period with 1:46 left on the penalty to Rantanen and a clean sheet. The Predators’ power play has been miserable, ranking 31st in the league this season and failing to score in 18 straight opportunities. Matt Duchene’s halftime interview indicated the team understood the urgency of the special teams situation. There didn’t seem to be any rush on the ice, though, and the Preds managed just one shot on goal. The best opportunity on the power play went to the Avs’ Artturi Lehkonen, who took the puck from the Preds behind their own net and attempted a wraparound.

At 15:08, a leaping Roman Josi drew a tripping penalty and the Predators went on the power play for the second time. A series of interesting bounces led to a superb opportunity for Nino Neiderreiter, but he couldn’t get it from Georgiev. The Preds looked better on this power play than they have of late, with more movement and more opportunities, but in the end they again had nothing to show for it.

At 12:08, Yakov Trenin gave the Avs their second power play with a holding penalty on Alex Newhook. Avs moved the puck well and got two quick shots on Saros, Rantanen hit the post before finally collecting a beautiful shot for the game’s first goal. 0-1 Abs.

After the first goal, it really turned in Avs’ favour. But Saros was able to hold onto the puck to allow his teammates to stop and switch skaters.

At 6:34, a terrible turnover by Mark Jankowski right in front of Saros’s Ben Meyers and Logan O’Connor gave a prime opportunity, which fortunately Saros was again able to save.

Ryan Johansen gave the Avs their third power play of the night, and they got a prime opportunity from the faceoff that got slightly behind Saros before he put on his glove. This time the Predators turned the tables a bit and Trenin got two short-handed shots on the Avs net.

Even when the Predators killed the penalty, the Avs continued to hold the zone, keeping defenders on the ice for more than two minutes before the Preds were finally able to clear the zone and change.

With less than 30 seconds left in the period, the Preds had some momentum and clearly pressured a bad turnover in the defensive zone allowing the Avs a 2 on 1, which they cashed in for Alex Newhook’s 7th goal of the year. 0-2 Abs.

Overall, the second period shifted much more in the Avalanche’s favor, and not just on the scoreboard. Notice in the all-situation shot map below that the Avs (mainly by virtue of their power play) were able to build up more shot attempts right in front of Saros, while the Preds largely failed to do the same in front of Georgiev.

All situations shot map at the end of the 2nd period.
NaturalStatTrick.com

Third

With 20 minutes left, the Preds needed to make something happen to get back into the game.

At 16:35, Duchene got his own rebound and was finally able to get the puck behind Georgiev. 1-2 Abs. And boos from the home crowd rained down.

At 10:21, Evan Rodrigues got a big chance when the Avs stretched the Preds defense and he found himself all alone on the ice. But Saros once again stood tall and held the Preds down to just one goal.

At 4:15, Rodrigues got ice again. But even with a clever spin move, Saros was not fooled and the score remained 1-2 Avs.

The last two minutes of the game lacked the urgency you’d expect from a team down one goal, and the Preds repeatedly had trouble establishing themselves in the offensive zone. With 37.4 seconds left in the match, Filip Forsberg had his first shot on goal. But Georgiev made a beautiful glove save, and on the ensuing faceoff, the Avalanche gained possession and scored a long goal on the empty net to seal the game. 1-3 Abs.

The Predators have now lost 6 games in a row, and scored only 9 goals in that stretch. They return home on Monday to once again face the high-powered offense of the Edmonton Oilers.

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