The Isles were hoping to get back in the win column against a Nashville team that was struggling and offensively challenged, but that didn't happen as the Isles again had a tough time getting started...staying started, and finishing.
It's difficult to describe the first period. Imagine having to do something you find really frustrating, and then, imagine watching a terrible hockey game while you're doing that. You're halfway there now.
It was clear that the Isles didn't really have their legs and the play was choppy and skittish for both teams (despite the Isles lineup changes adding in Matt Carkner and Brock Nelson and subtracting Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Matt Donovan). Every pass and shot for both sides seemed to be heavily contested and turnovers were plenty.
How bad was it? The Preds had one shot 8 minutes in, the Isles, zero. They got their first at about the ten minute mark.
The highlight of the period was a Evgeni Nabokov left pad save on Craig Smith who cranked a one timer from the between the bottoms of the faceoff circles off a pass from behind the net.
They were out-corsified badly again too by the end of the period as Nashville began to dominate zone time more and more. If we're talking about passengers, this game was the Titanic...or the LIRR during rush hour. Whichever terrible comparison you like better. Choose your own recap. I'll bet the highlight box below skips right over the first period.
The second started out as excruciating as the first. Casey Cizikas took a boarding early and, stop me if you heard this before, Seth Jones got his first NHL goal on the ensuing power play. The penalty kill was a bit of a circus because Travis Hamonic broke his stick. Matt Martin went over to lend him one, and never got back into the play. Both Martin and Hamonic couldn't close fast enough on Jones who rifled a low slapper past Nabokov.
More agony, agony, agony, first shot on goal at 9:30 (ish) agony, bad power play with shorthanded chance, agony, line shuffle.
After that line shuffle (which was really just switching Nielsen's and Tavares' wings), the Isles got going. Grabner/Bailey/Tavares had a good cycle and generated a couple of shots, then on the next shift, the newly incarnated Matt Moulson, Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen line broke through.
Okposo fought through a check along the boards and dished to Nielsen who was streaking down the slot. Moulson was in his usual spot providing a bit of a screen and Nielsen wristed it past Rinne.
Momentum shifted a bit and the Isles began generating shots. Okposo got involved in the scoring again and gathered a puck in the offensive zone, made a move to buy himself some space and dished to Tavares down low. Tavares initial shot (or pass) was blocked, but it came right back to him and he banked it in off of Rinne's leg from just behind the net.
At the end of the period, Matt Martin turned the puck over in the Preds zone (as the Isles were changing) and Thomas Hickey went to the man and let Patric Hornqvist by him. Lubomir Visnovsky was slow to react and couldn't get over and Hornqvist blew a long wrister past Nabokov.
Enter the softie. Ryan Ellis fired a low slapper from just inside the blue line to give the Preds the lead. There's not much to say about it. It was a hard shot, but it shouldn't have happened.
The Isles had an opportunity to get back in it when they were given a four minute power play when Matt Hendricks high sticked Thomas Hickey. I'm almost positive the Isles were outshot on the power play, which looked decent enough movement-wise but didn't provide much danger.
There was furious onslaught at the end with the goaltender pulled (which was new and exciting), but Tavares and Bailey both missed a good chance and the ending was sadness.
- 35 shots on goal for in the last two games. Need more Corsis, because in this game, the Isles were doubled up on shots on goal and the game corsi was -21.
- Cal Clutterbuck was again a team low in TOI and finished with 9:27. The next closest was Brock Nelson with 11:07. Seems like he's not ready, and he looked pretty ineffective anyway. 18.2 CF% (which wasn't a team low; Regin 16.7).
- Some thought Nabokov looked pretty bad on the first two goals as well. I didn't see it except on the third.
- I'd like to think this was a product of "tired team, played last night against the cup champs, etc.", but they didn't look so much tired to me. More like the chemistry (knowing where guys are going to be, knowing what to do with the puck) is off.
- Columbus, Philly, Washington and the Rangers lost, so that's good. Pittsburgh won, and that stinks.