The Nashville Predators shut out the Minnesota Wild 4-0 at Bridgestone Arena. Pekka Rinne’s first shutout of the year puts Nashville at 6-3-1 to start the season. Good for second in the division.
Miikka Salomaki, Calle Jarnkrok, Craig Smith, Colton Sissons
Colton Sissons, Roman Josi, Viktor Arvidsson, Ryan Johansen, Nick Bonino, Rocco Grimaldi, Mattias Ekholm
The Wild was much better than Nashville in the first period. Combining for 26 total shot attempts while only allowing 9 (CF% of 74.29), Minnesota held Nashville in their own zone for an extended period of time. Pekka Rinne denied all four high danger chances, and despite manufacturing 7 scoring chances, the Wild could capitalize on Nashville’s slow start.
The Predators started entering and exiting the zones more efficiently in the second period, allowing them to create more chances. Ryan Ellis cycled the puck around the Nashville net to Roman Josi, who chipped the puck to a transitioning Colton Sissons. With Salomaki trailing, Sissons dropped the puck to him in open space. Respectively, Jarnkrok netted his second goal of the year on a similar play involving Ryan Johansen and Viktor Arvidsson.
Nashville handled the Wild from the start of the second period on, as the team managed a 55.50 CF%, 59.6 SCF%, 62.5 HDCF%, and a 64.28 xGF% through the last forty minutes. Objectively, the Wild were missing some pieces in their lineup but Nashville was as well. Overall, the Predators controlled the game and scored goals at crippling times, a theme not uncommon for this team. Had the Wild scored goals when the offense was rolling in the first period, the game might’ve turned out differently.
Nashville’s top two lines were the best in terms of total shot attempts, but the bottom six really drove the game for the Predators. Although they faced a lot of opposing shots, they made each shot going the other way count. Ending the game with higher HDCF%, SCF%, and xGF% (not to mention three goals), Nashville’s depth scoring was on display.
Dante Fabbro and Mattias Ekholm played a bad defensive game, each finishing with a CF%, xGF%, and HDCF% below 40%. Ultimately, it was a forgettable game from the defensive aspect as a team, but the second pairing needs a rebound against the Lightning. Considering Matt Duchene and Filip Forsberg might both be out due to injury, defense will need to be a priority anyways.
The Wild concluded a five-game point streak for Ryan Ellis, but he was the best player overall. He and Roman Josi drove play in the first period, even in the midst of a defensive breakdown. Comparatively speaking, he is the most improved player from this year to last year. Ellis still leads the team in points with 12.
Miikka Salomaki, of all players, scored his first goal last night. Salomaki became the 16th skater for the Predators to score a goal. Scoring is never in question for the Predators; the only question is who.
Overall, this game was not Stanley Cup Final exciting, and energy definitely lacked. However, the good teams win regardless of circumstance. With that in mind, Matt Duchene did not see the latter half of the second period nor the third period at all. Duchene’s potential absence does not bode well for the offense, but as can be seen, scoring is not impossible.