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A “despised” first period produces a brand new Predators team as Nashville wins 1-0 over San Jose


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Photo Credit: AP Photo/Mark Humphrey

Sometimes it takes some paint-peeling and table throwing from a coach during the intermission to light a fire under his players. While no paint was peeled and no tables were thrown, the message sent by Trotz was very clear and very simple after the first period: garbage hockey.

After a three-shot first period, Nashville fired 21 shots collectively in the second and third periods before Colin Wilson finished home and Ryan Ellis shot in overtime to grab a 1-0 shutout win over the San Jose Sharks in front of the 18th consecutive sell-out crowd at Bridgestone Arena.

Nashville, only registering 3 shots on the first periods (after being changed from 2), played one of the most demoralizing and predictably awful periods they’ve played in quite some time. While Rinne stole the show, keeping his team alive and tied at 0-0 after 20 minutes when it could have easily been a multi-goal lead from the Sharks, Nashville’s communal front 5 looked lackluster and lackadaisical in front of another sell-out crowd.

“That first period, guys coming out flat like that, we can’t have that at home,” said Predators forward Colin Wilson.

“It was pretty simple, I didn’t have a message for them. I just told them I despised everything about the first period,” said Coach Barry Trotz. “It wasn’t Predator hockey, it might have been the worst period we’ve played in terms of those battle areas and all of that. They have to fix it from within. There’s no help when you play like that, there’s nothing I can say.”

While Trotz may have struck the match, the players answered on their own accord. Nashville came out, guns blazing, in the second period. A fire renewed in their belly.

“We just, for one, knew how poorly we played. We were dead out there in the first, no energy, we weren’t hitting guys or executing anything. We were just kind of sitting back on our heels and letting them come at us. You can’t let a skilled team like that do that,” said Predators defenseman Kevin Klein. “Trotzy came in, said a few things, called us out, and I think that was great. It lit that fire and we came out skating in the second.”

The Predators ran into a bit of penalty problems in the second period, however, as oft-quiet forward on the penalty-front Martin Erat took 4 penalties in the second period, tying his career high in penalty minutes in a game.

“Obviously in the second period, I wouldn’t want them taking as many penalties as they did. We were 10 minutes short in the second period and we were good,” said Trotz. “They dug in, they could’ve gone the other way, but Paul Gaustad and the penalty kill…I mean Paul Gaustad was GREAT on the draws. The penalty kill actually gave us momentum.”

San Jose was limited to 4 shots on all 6 of their powerplays in the second period, including a shortened 5-on-3 they had as well. After the Sharks had their chances, though, the Predators got to work.

“They got determined, they got their anger up. They responded the right way. They sacrificed, they got angry at themselves, and they fixed it. That’s the best thing any coach can have, when they fix it within the room,” said Trotz.

The Predators 21 shots in the second/third periods equaled or bested their entire game totals in 7 of their 13 games so far. Finishing the game with 24 shots total and out-shooting a team for only the second time this season.

In the end, Nashville’s effort in the first was enough to bring that same effort to a screeching halt after the first twenty minutes. Whether it will be something they can build off of come Thursday is yet to be seen. In any case, the Predators may have found a sense of “new life” in the start of the second quarter of this condensed season.

FULL POST-GAME QUOTES FROM KEVIN KLEIN, COLIN WILSON, BARRY TROTZ

Kevin Klein on if it was nice to get a win…

Yeah, definitely. It’s one of those things where we came out real flat, we can’t play like that. Pekka held us in there, it could have easily been 3 or 4 to 0 with all of those chances in the first period. We took way too many penalties in the second, but we battled hard and that was good to see. Once we got some endzone time in the third, I thought the guys were moving real well and getting shots through. After the first period where we had, what, three shots? We picked it up after that, which is nice to see.

Kevin Klein on 4-on-4 and Ryan Ellis’ play…

Yeah, he’s doing a great job and making plays when he gets the opportunity. He got a great shot through and it was nice to see someone at the net and Willy did a great job putting it in.

Kevin Klein on if there was a sense of relief to get a goal…

Not really, it was great to win the game and that’s the most important thing, especially with how we started. The second half of the game was way better when we weren’t in the penalty box. Pekka was Pekka, unbelievable again tonight.

Kevin Klein on having 8 plus period with no goals and still getting 3 points in 3 games…

It’s one of those things where right now we’re playing really solid 5-on-5 in our own end, we’re keeping the shots for the most part outside. We’re doing a great job killing off some of the penalties too that we’re taking. Offensive chances will come and obviously we have to do some things to open that up, forecheck a little better to get some pressure and zone time and instead of wasting so much energy on playing defense and play some offense.

Kevin Klein on the penalty kill without Hal Gill…

Guys were stepping up and that’s what you like to see from the young guys. I thought we did a great job tonight in getting in the shot lanes and blocking shots. They got a lot of skill and that’s one of their bread and butters over there is the powerplay. To kill off that many against these guys says something

Kevin Klein on having 3 shots in the first and what was said in the first intermission…

We just, for one, knew how poorly we played. We were dead out there in the first, no energy, we weren’t hitting guys or executing anything. We were just kind of sitting back on our heels and letting them come at us. You can’t let a skilled team like that do that. Trotzy came in, said a few things, called us out, and I think that was great. It lit that fire and we came out skating in the second.

Kevin Klein on clutching the stick too tight when not scoring goals…

I don’t think so, you saw a lot of shots. Niemi played really well in net, over there. I thought we had a few opportunities in the second/third to bury a few, we were buzzing and had some really good shifts working around. It’s one of those things where they don’t go in and you keep plugging away. We didn’t give up anything defensively and Pekks held strong as usual. We came out with the victory.

Colin Wilson on the team/individual efforts after the first period…

It’s definitely a lot to improve on. That first period, guys coming out flat like that, we can’t have that at home. I felt a little bit flat out there, I need to get my energy up, I think everyone’s feeling the same way. As a team, we can build off those last two periods. We did a great job, the PK was great, and Pekka was great.

Barry Trotz on why Rich Clune has been started over Brian McGrattan…

He gets on the forecheck a little bit more. It was one of those things I felt is that part of it is getting on the forecheck and separating people. Positioning he’s good, if you watch him he’s very detailed and very committed. I didn’t think he deserved to come out of the lineup. Last game he was one of our better guys, he played 12/13 minutes. Tonight it was a bit tougher with all of the penalties. He’s never a liability on the ice and he’s hard to play against. He gives you energy and gives you some bang. I cannot take those values out of our lineup

Trotz on Rinne being the team MVP right now…

Oh yeah, he’s probably making a case for MVP in the league. Forget our team, he IS the most valuable player on our team right now. I could stack him up against anybody who’s having an MVP season right now.

Trotz on what he said after the first period…

It was pretty simple, I didn’t have a message for them. I just told them I despised everything about the first period. It wasn’t Predator hockey, it might have been the worst period we’ve played in terms of those battle areas and all of that. They have to fix it from within. There’s no help when you play like that, there’s nothing I can say. I just told them how I felt and they responded. They showed their character, they showed their leadership in the room.

Obviously in the second period, I wouldn’t want them taking as many penalties as they did. We were 10 minutes short in the second period and we were good. They dug in, they could’ve gone the other way, but Paul Gaustad and the penalty kill…I mean Paul Gaustad was GREAT on the draws. The penalty kill actually gave us momentum. They got determined, they got their anger up. They responded the right way. They sacrificed, they got angry at themselves, and they fixed it. That’s the best thing any coach can have, when they fix it within the room.

Special Teams:

Powerplay – 0 for 2, 0%
Penalty Kill – 6 for 6, 100%

Best Play of the Game: Colin Wilson batting in a puck over Antti Niemi in overtime to seal the deal for the Predators and win the game

Worst Play of the Game: Martin Erat taking 4 penalties in the second period while the Predators were trying to stop their wheels from spinning

My Three Stars (voted by me):

#1: – Pekka Rinne

#2: – Antti Niemi

#3: – Joe Pavelski

(Votes are submitted at the 5 minute mark in the 3rd period, that’s why Wilson isn’t on there)

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POST-GAME NOTES (From Nashville Predators PR Staff)

Team Notes:

The Predators were perfect on the penalty kill, going 6-for-6.  The Sharks’ powerplay was ranked eighth in the NHL (23.3%) prior to tonight.

Nashville extended the game past 60 minutes for the seventh time in 13 games, with two overtime games and five more going past overtime to the shootout.

The Predators have now earned at least a point in 10 of 13 games (6-3-4) this season – only five teams have lost fewer games in regulation – with each regulation loss having been by shutout.

At the end of the game, Nashville and San Jose were tied at 25 shots, with the Predators outshooting the Sharks 22-12 after the first period.  Nashville has only outshot its opponent once this season.

Nashville’s blueliners accounted for 12 of the team’s 18 blocked shots – Kevin Klein led all Predators skaters with four.

With the shutout, Nashville saw its goals allowed drop to 1.77 per game, good for second in the NHL behind Ottawa.

Colin Wilson’s goal in overtime ended a goalless streak of 176:18 (eight regulation periods, overtime at Minnesota) for the Predators.

Player Notes:

Pekka Rinne has allowed only six goals in his last six games, going 5-1-0 in that span with a pair of shutouts and a save percentage of 0.964.  Only three of those goals against have been at even strength.  Rinne has now allowed one goal or fewer in five of the Preds’ 13 games.  Rinne’s two shutouts are tied with Craig Anderson and Mike Smith for the NHL lead.

Martin Erat picked up eight minutes in penalties in the second period, matching his career high in a game (set Jan. 17, 2008 vs. Anaheim).  He is now second on the team in penalty minutes (20; Rich Clune 29 PIM).

Colin Wilson’s game-winning goal was his first GWG of the season; he was second on the squad last season with five (Mike Fisher led the team with seven).

Paul Gaustad went 16-of-21 (76.2%) in the faceoff circle, pushing his season mark to 60.9%.  Mike Fisher won 7 of 10, while Nick Spaling won 6 of 8.

Kevin Klein’s four shots on goal were one shy of his career high (5; last hit April 5, 2012).

Attendance: 17,113 (Sellout)

Three Stars: 1) P. Rinne 2) C. Wilson 3) A. Niemi

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VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS

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Nashville is back in action Thursday night as they take on the Coyotes at Bridgestone Arena. Game is at 7:00pm CT.