Thursday, January 16, 2014

Preds steal SO win against Flyers

Philadelphia, PA -- It's not going to show up on a chart or graph, but one of the hard truths about games which end in marathon shootouts, is that they will be decided by the players who have no reason to be on the ice, even in a breakaway contest.

On Thursday at Wells Fargo Center, that player was Roman Josi, who netted the deciding score in the seventh round of the shootout, as Nashville topped Philadelphia, 4-3, on Thursday.

Josi, who failed in his only other career shootout try, slid the puck through Steve Mason's pads to end the contest. Carter Hutton kept his team alive with a stop on Wayne Simmonds to open the round, after allowing scores on two previous Philly attempts.

"It tears your heart out especially when you play really, really well and you lose in a shootout.  Very similar to the last time we played them, I thought we were the better team against the Flyers and couldn’t get the regulation win. There’s a little bit of a mental barrier you need to get through, and I thought we did," said Nashville head coach Barry Trotz, referencing a Nov. 30 loss.  

Shea Weber collected a goal and two assists for the Predators, who picked up their first road victory since Dec. 10. David Legwand and Eric Nystrom also tallied to back Hutton's 27 saves in regulation.

“We obviously hadn’t won yet in the shootout, so hopefully we can get some confidence off of that moving forward and be able to be better in that area," Weber noted of his club breaking an 0-for-5 string in shootouts this year.

Simmonds also notched three points on a score and two helpers for the Flyers, losers of two in a row on home ice after taking 10 straight.

Andrej Meszaros and Brayden Schenn produced additional offense, while Mason made 34 stops in defeat. It was a heartbreaker for sure, and the hosts fell to 3-4 in the terminal portion of a contest this season, but still managed to pick up a point during this key five-game stretch where points are a must.

“I don’t think he can worry about that at all. He’s been saving our butts all year. It has nothing to do with him, we should’ve played a more solid 60 minutes in front of him," said Flyers head coach Craig Berube when asked if Mason took blame for the loss.

To a point, Mason was right. When the shootout comes around, it's a blank slate -- shooter vs. goaltender and he failed in his mission by giving up those two goals after his teammates twice provided a potential winning difference.

The Orange and Black have a home-and-home set with the Islanders looming at home Saturday night, then in Uniondale Monday afternoon before returning here for a Tuesday tilt with Carolina.

The hosts struck just 1:26 after the opening faceoff. Meszaros carried deep into the Nashville zone, but curiously dished to Simmonds, whose deflected pass back across the crease found Schenn for a tip-in at the left post.

The Preds struck back with 9:03 to play in the first, as Nystrom snuck between two defenders and a Gabriel Bourque pass caromed off his leg and inside the far post.

Nashville failed to click on a brief 5-on-3 edge, but Legwand one-timed a Mike Fisher feed under the crossbar from the top of the right circle during the one-man edge for a 2-1 game at 16:25.

Hutton saved his own bacon as the game clock moved beyond the seven-minute mark of the second period, diving back into his crease to deny an open-net chance from Michael Raffl, whose shot was muted by a Legwand trip.

"I would rather call it a miss. You’ve got the open net and the puck is bouncing right on my blade," said the pragmatic Austrian. "He got his stick on me a little bit. It changed kind of direction. I wasn’t aiming there so you’ve got to give him credit he made a desperate save. It was a nice save."

Meszaros joined the rush again on the final shift of the period, and tied the score on a wrister from the left circle with less than five seconds left.

Weber's rip from the point on the first part of a four-minute advantage put the Predators up 3-2 with 5:10 played in the third period. Mason kept it a one-goal spread by stopping a Craig Smith breakaway on the back end.

Philly failed to capitalize on its next power-play chance, but received another one on a Fisher slash with 3:04 left in regulation. Mason was sent to the bench seconds before a Scott Hartnell tip in the slot of a Kimmo
Timonen shot caromed off Simmonds' stick and fluttered over Hutton with 1:24 to play.

It was a momentary respite from the realization that the hosts carried the third-worst power play on home ice coming into the contest, clicking at 11.9 percent (10-for-84).

Notes: Weber faced the Flyers for the first time since being signed to an offer sheet in the Summer of 2012. He sat out the Preds' shootout loss in Nashville ... The contest marked the first time the Flyers faced a game beyond regulation on home ice this season, after participating in eight such games on the road ... Philadelphia had won three in a row at home vs. Nashville since March of 2009.
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