Five things about Monday night’s game…
– Last night the Predators were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. It is just the second time in the last nine seasons that they have missed the playoffs.
“It’s frustrating,” Hal Gill said. “I don’t think anyone’s happy with what is going this year. I guess it’s something to look back on when we’re done with the season. We’ll look back on it and try and evaluate it, but right now it’s just a tough pill to swallow. You know, you want to go out and give everything you’ve got every night and to play for nothing is tough.”
– The Predators, typically a strong home team, have struggled recently in the friendly confines of Smashville. For the first time since the 2001-02 season, they have lost six straight home games in regulation and have been out-scored 18-5 in that span.
However, that didn’t stop Predators fans from giving the team the patented TV timeout standing ovation during the second period of last night’s game. It was arguably the best period the Preds have played in a while.
“We give a lot of props to the fans. It’s been a difficult time, not only for us but for the fans too, with all the guys out,” head coach Barry Trotz said after the game. “In the second period, it was really special when they stood up and were cheering the effort because the guys are in the room want to get wins and you could tell they were sticking with us.”
– Eighteen-year-old Filip Forsberg played his second NHL game last night, which was the back half of a back-to-back and two days after flying to Nashville from Sweden. His ice time of 13:10 in the 5-2 loss to Vancouver was a five-minute reduction from his debut – and for the second night in a row he had a rating of minus-2 – but he still flashed some potential while recording four shots on goal.
– Another Swede entered the Predators’ lineup last night. Mattias Ekholm was recalled from Milwaukee under emergency conditions to take Kevin Klein’s spot on the blue-line. Ekholm, who had a five-game cup of coffee with the Preds a season ago, logged 16:05 of ice time in his season debut.
“The first period was pretty tough. I got in pretty late and the flight was a little late, but as the game went on it got better,” he said.
Trotz added, “I thought Ekholm played fine. You could see a little bit of the speed difference, but as the game went on, he was fine. He’s stronger and more poised. I think his decision making, when it comes to attacking the rush, last year he went without a read. He’s reading now. The game is coming to him and he’s a lot more relaxed. It was a good start for him.”
– Canucks netminder Roberto Luongo continued his Bridgestone Arena dominance by turning away 36 of the 38 shots he faced against the Predators. In his last 10 starts in Nashville (including playoffs), Luongo is 8-2-0 with a 1.86 GAA, .933 save percentage and one shutout.
“I wasn’t quite sure what was going on there in the second,” said Luongo, who faced 19 shots in the middle frame. “Fortunately, we got a power play goal there to take the lead again, and we came back in the third period. We had a really good period and the played the way we wanted to play.”
Three stars of Monday night’s game…
1. Ryan Kesler, VAN… In his fourth game back from injury, Kesler set the tone with the game’s first goal at 1:34 of the opening frame. He ended the night with two goals.
2. Derek Roy, VAN… Roy, acquired from Dallas prior to the trade deadline, scored his first goal with Vancouver since the trade. He tallied two points in his first game on a line with Kesler and Alex Burrows.
3. Roberto Luongo, VAN… Although he allowed two goals in the middle frame, Luongo was forced to make some key saves in that period and made 36 stops on the night.
Audio from 102.5 The Game…