by: Tyler Aragao
Winners of 6 out of their last 7 the Boston Bruins had plenty of reasons to be confident heading into Smashville for a tilt with the defending Western Conference champs. The Predator's aren't slouching by any means with a 7-2-1 record in their last 10 games coming into the contest. Anton Khudobin to the surprise of some got the call in net opposite Pekka Rinne who was making his fourth consecutive start
The Bruins would get the game's first quality chance but Pekka Rinne was up to the task shutting down David Pastrnak in close.
hen The Predators wasted no time getting on the board scoring 1:26 into the game. Strong board play led to Alexei Emelin letting a shot go from the point, Craig Smith was all over it potting his 10th goal of the season. Kyle Turris, who was sent to Nashville in the blockbuster Matt Duchene deal, recorded his fourth point in five games.
Anton Khudobin would make up for the juicy rebound making a huge save off Predator's captain Roman Josi who was bearing in on a 2 on 1. Khudobin's strong left to right push would keep the score 1-0 in what was a tightly contested period.
The period would end the same way it began for Nashville, with Craig Smith burying his second goal of the game. The Bruin's lack of defensive awareness allowed for Mattias Ekholm to chip a pass through to Smith who roared in on a breakaway beating Khudobin clean to the glove side with just 17 seconds left in the period.
The Predators would take a 2-0 lead into the intermission, despite being outshot 13-11.
The second period did not bode much better for Anton Khudobin who would surrender two more goals in their first four minutes of the period. After winning the face off, Nick Bonino set up shop in the bottom of the left circle and was able to tuck home a fortuitous deflection past Khudobin. For Bonino it was his 5th of the season and extended the Preds lead to 3-0
Kevin Fiala would continue the Predator's surge. After mucking the puck out from along the boards in neutral ice Fiala cut in along the left side on another odd-man rush and tucked a backhander past Khudobin who couldn't recover back towards his right. The goal was Fiala's 4th of the year and would spell the end of Khudobin's night.
Trailing 4-0 early in the second the Bruins finally began showing signs of life. Charlie McAvoy scored his second goal in three games beating Rinne on a scorching one timer off a beautiful feed from Danton Heinen. It was a powerplay goal for the Bruins and McAvoy's 4th goal of the campaign.
The Bruins would head into the 3rd period trailing by three, they outshot Nashville 11-6 in the frame but Pekka Rinne continued to stand tall stopping 23 out of 24 shots through 40 minutes
The Bruins would cut the lead in half on Zdeno Chara's third goal of the season. The Boston captain floated a "tumbling muffin" that eluded Pekka Rinne on the glove side, David Backes picked up his 500th career point with an assist.
With the Bruins big guns out on the ice Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak went to work wreaking havoc in the Predator's end. The puck found its way to Pastrnak's stick and the Bruins winger made no mistake with it picking the short side over Rinne's blocker for his 14th of the season. All of a sudden the Bruins trailed by just a goal.
The Bruins seemingly turned the tides of the game however, after a brief timeout Nashville had an answer. Off yet another defensive lapse Filip Forsberg was able to break in all alone and beat Tuukka Rask off the post and in on the glove side to make it 5-3 Preds. The goal came just 38 seconds after Pastrnak cut the deficit to one.
Trailing now by two Tuukka Rask did his part to keep his team within reach making a tremendously tremendous toe save
Final Score: Predators 5 Bruins 3
The Bruins fired away at Pekka Rinne who stopped 37 of 40 shots to pick up the win in goal. The Bruins were simply victimized by their own defensive mistakes. Smith's second goal in the dying seconds of the first period as well as Forsberg's breakaway goal that virtually sealed the game both were a result of a defensive or neutral zone lapse. Anton Khudobin didn't make it half way through the game he suffers his first regulation loss of the season giving up four goals on just 14 shots though in fairness the Bruins left their backup out to dry. Tuukka Rask came in relief stopping nine of 10 shots the rest of the way.
Next Game: Thursday, December 7th versus the Arizona Coyotes @ the TD Garden, puck drop slated for 7:00p.m.
Though sloppy in their own end the Bruins dominated the majority of the play offensively firing 40 shots on Rinne
With some time to rest in between games expect Tuukka Rask to start against Arizona
Rask looked rested and ready coming in relief. It was his first relief appearance of the season
A matchup against the lowly Coyotes should be the ideal remedy for the Bruins to get back on track.