Where was the Nashville Predators' offense Tuesday night? It was obvious from puck drop to the final horn the team was flat and not producing any scoring chances, leaving Pekka Rinne, who stopped twenty-seven shots, out to dry. Nashville had a total of sixteen shots on goal (3, 6, 7) — a season-low thus far.
The most frustrating of it all was the Wild were playing with five defensemen throughout the night and were sometimes down to three or four during portions of the game. Despite all that, the Predators were still unable to apply pressure.
Without any offense, Minnesota Wild goaltender Josh Harding looked like a rock star between the pipes, recording his first shutout on the year in a 2-0 victory. After being moved up to the first line with Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu, Justin Fontaine scored the game-winner with 1:07 remaining in the second period off the one mishandle by Rinne.
It was an unfortunate play by Rinne, but not all blame can be put on him. Rooke defenseman Seth Jones failed to clear the puck and, or block Fontaine away from the rebound attempt.
With twenty-five seconds remaining, Jason Pominville scored the empty-netter to cap off the two goal victory at home.
– Filip Forsberg was a healthy scratch after a mediocre performance against the Winnipeg Jets Sunday. To fill his shoes was enforcer Rich Clune. Clune dropped the gloves with Zenon Kenopka just 2:07 into the game to send an early message. He finished the night with 6:36 of ice time.
Certainly, head coach Barry Trotz will not be pulling this experiment again because it turned out to be a disaster. Such a skilled young forward in Forsberg and making him a little unhappy probably isn't the best thing to do for his confidence. Poor decision making by Trotz and the coach staff.
– Viktor Stalberg looks lost. Trotz has put him in a terrible situation lately, being alongside Rich Clune and Nick Spaling to start the game. That line doesn't scream offense to say the least. This is not what General Manager David Poile had in mind when he signed Stalberg to a long-term contract this past summer. Stalberg should be with Mike Fisher when he returns and Colin Wilson. That line will provide Stalberg with the tools to become a premier forward in this league.
– Paul Gaustad was yet again solid in the faceoff dot going seven-for-ten with a 70% win percentage. His battles in the dot with Mikko Koivu were fun to watch, especially to see Koivu's adjustments after losing a good portion to Gaustad.
– Speaking of faceoffs, Zenon Kenopka knows how to win them. Not only does he fight on a regular basis, he wins faceoffs. Tuesday, Kenopka was seven-for-nine, shocking those who were unaware of his faceoff abilities.
– Pekka Rinne played spectacular Tuesday. It was unfortunate that his team was unable to support him. The Wild were throwing the kitchen sink at him, but were able to only get one past him, barely. This game was the best he's played this season, but due to no support, it will go down in the stat column as a loss.
1-0 MIN: Justin Fontaine – Stoner and Parise at 18:53 in the 2nd
2-0 MIN: EN Jason Pominville – Koivu and Parise (2) at 19:35 in the 3rd
NSH: Pekka Rinne (L) – 27 saves on 28 shots; 59:21 of TOI
MIN: Josh Harding (W) – 16 saves on 16 shots; 60:00 of TOI
My Three Stars
1. Pekka Rinne (NSH): 27 saves
2. Zach Parise (MIN): 2 assists
3. Josh Harding (MIN): Shutout
Line Up Report
Predators scratches: Forsberg and Fisher
Predators starters: Nystrom, Gaustad, Hendricks, Klein, Ekholm and Rinne
Wild scratches: Ballard and Dumba
Wild starters: Parise, Koivu, Niederreiter, Scandella, Spurgeon and Harding