Ekman-Larsson’s 600th career game ends in a Nashville Loss

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The Nashville Predators took their second consecutive loss on home ice to the Arizona Coyotes 3-0. This would also be the second time Nashville has been shut out at home this year (two more than last year).

Nashville Key Stats

Power Play Chances

0/2

Penalty Kill Chances

1/5

Arizona Key Stats

Goals

Clayton Keller, Nick Schmaltz, Brad Richardson

Assists

Nick Schmaltz, Alex Galchenyuk, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Vinnie Hinostroza, Niklas Hjalmarsson

What Happened

An uneventful first period was filled with turnovers and poor puck possession from both teams. It seemed as if both teams were trading chances, but nothing came of any of it.

The Coyotes earned the lead, and never lost it. Preceding a Nashville giveaway, Keller skated into the slot virtually untouched and slapped the puck through Rinne to give the Coyotes a 1-0 lead. Later in the period, Arizona drew a penalty. After receiving the feed from the point, Schmaltz deked Josi, tip-toed into right face-off circle, and sniped one past Rinne’s blocker.

The Coyotes created more chances on the turnovers, and it eventually cost the Predators again in the third period. Hinostroza zoomed through the neutral zone, shot the puck into Josi’s stick, chased after his own rebound, and a Richardson one-timer from the high slot nailed the coffin shut. Nashville’s best chance to score came on a 4v3 power play, but overpassing and bad puck luck destroyed any chance to score.

The final from Bridgestone was 3-0. Two home losses in a row (and a second home-ice shutout this year) have put the Predators at 17-8-1 with 35 points. Nashville still leads the Central Division, and have fallen only to fourth in the league.

Looking Forward

Oliver Ekman-Larsson recorded an assist in his 600th career game. He has played a tremendous career already- 303 total points along with 104 goals, and he’s only 27. The playoffs have eluded him for most of his tenure in the NHL.

Pekka Rinne has allowed eight goals on 69 shots in his last three games, which averages out to an alarming .884% save percentage. It isn’t indicative of how he’s played- he has bailed his team out on numerous occasions, and while he may not be as sharp as he’d like to be, there’s no doubt he’s been the best player on the team.

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Nashville racked up 24 penalty minutes against the Coyotes and still threw 29 shots on Adin Hill. Both Ryan Hartman and Colton Sissons rang one off the pipe, Roman Josi couldn’t pull the trigger while Hill was sprawled out (their best first-period chance), and Rocco Grimaldi very nearly tallied his second goal of the year. The shots didn’t fall, and that happens sometimes, but that’s no excuse for their performance.

Overall, Nashville couldn’t sustain any pressure in the offensive zone and was scrambling in the defensive zone. Two of the few positive takeaways from the game was their back-checking on the odd-man rushes and blocked shots.

The fourth line was the most productive for Nashville in terms of overall play. They led the lines in shots, didn’t turn the puck over consistently, and went to the net for most of the night.

Kevin Fiala was placed on the top line again, and once again, nothing came of it. He isn’t a bad player by any means, but there has to be another place for him in the lineup- the lack of chemistry is slowing Fiala, Filip Forsberg, and Ryan Johansen down in monumental ways. Forsberg has registered only 7 shots in 4 games.

The Predators have played a tough stretch recently. Kyle Turris and P.K. Subban have mysterious injuries that are keeping them out of the lineup, and the loss of Viktor Arvidsson is presenting more issues than previously assumed. This team needs to get healthy.

Also, playing Chicago is the perfect opportunity to rebound. A big win on Saturday night would put the team back on track.

-Jack Woods covers the Nashville Predators and the Central Division for FullPressCoverage.com and PenaltyBoxRadio.com. You can follow Jack on Twitter at @jack_woods15 and the Full Press Predators at @FPC_Predators

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