Boston Bruins can’t tame the Nashville Predators on the road


The Boston Bruins rode into Nashville on a high note after two impressive wins and the return of Tuukka Rask. However, Anton Khudobin got the start against the powerful defending Western Conference champions who hoped to carry their tune into Monday night.

Period 1

The Boston Bruins top line came out strong and tested the Predators early, but Pekka Rinne was ready to roll from puck drop denying David Pastrnak just seconds into the game. The hand off of momentum to the Bs’ second unit was anything but smooth, as David Krejci turned the puck over in the defensive zone. Craig Smith quickly pounced to give the Predators the lead just 1:26 into the game.

The Preds nearly increased their lead just seconds later off a 2-on-1 rush, but Anton Khudobin robbed Roman Josi to keep the Bruins within a goal. The teams battled back and forth for the rest of the period until the Bruins’ lost coverage in the neutral zone and Craig Smith buried a breakaway for his second goal with 17 seconds left in the period. The Bs found themselves in a huge hole after one period in Smashville even though they held the advantage in shots 13-11.

Period 2

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It was the same story to start the second. Rinne fended off the Bruins’ first unit allowing the Predators to go on the attack and increase their lead to three when Nick Bonino finished a pin ball play 2:15 into the second period.

The Predators sensed the Bruins were wounded and struck again 1:55 later when Kevin Fiala finished a 2 on 1 rush to make the score 4-0 Predators. At this point, Bruce Cassidy turned to Tuukka Rask to replace Anton Khudobin not even five minutes into the second.

The Bs showed some life after the goaltending change and finally got on the board when Roman Josi went to the box for cross-checking. Charlie McAvoy blasted a lazer by Rinne on the powerplay to make it 4-1 at 10:14 of the second. The teams played ping pong for the rest of the period as neither sustained pressure past chances off the rush. However, the Bruins managed to increase their shot advantage to 24-17.

Period 3

The Bruins generated more shots to start the period when they were awarded an early powerplay. Shortly after the man advantage ended, Zdeno Chara cut the lead in half with a bouncing shot from the blue line that beat Pekka Rinne 4:33 into the final period.

The Bruins felt the game within reach and swarmed the Predators until David Pastrnak found the back of the net to get the Bs within one goal with 14:12 to play. Peter Laviolette felt the heat, so he called a timeout to reel in his team. The move worked as Filip Forsberg responded just 34 seconds later to put the Preds back up by two.

Boston Bruins
NASHVILLE, TN – DECEMBER 4: David Pastrnak /

But the Bs continued to buzz and put the pressure on the Predators for the final 10 minutes. Bruce Cassidy felt the momentum on his side and pulled Tuukka Rask with nearly three minutes left in the game. The final minutes were a scramble in the Predators’ zone but the Bruins couldn’t find the net as the Predators formed a wall around Rinne to hang on. After struggling the first two period, the Bruins dominated the third and the shots reflected their effort as they finished with 40 to the Predators’ 25.

Final score: Predators 5, Bruins 3.

Key Takeaways

Too many turnovers and odd man rushes. This was arguably the biggest test on the season so far for the Bruins, and there was a glaring difference between the two teams. The Bs heavily outshot Nashville, but they didn’t protect the puck. The mistakes allowed the Predators to demonstrate their quick strike ability and elite finish that separate the top tier teams from the rest of the pack.

Boston Bruins
BOSTON – FEBRUARY 8: Boston Bruins goalies Tuukka Rask, left, and Anton Khudobin take a break during a practice with new coach Bruce Cassidy at Warrior Arena in Boston on Feb. 8, 2017. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images) /

The exaggerated goalie controversy is over. There is no more debate of who owns the net in Boston. Anton Khodbin may have been hungout to dry by his team, but Tuukka Rask solidified his spot as number one after coming in cold tonight and making 10 saves on 11 shots. The Bs won the game 3-1 after Rask was deployed, which shows the team can/will play better in front of him. The Bruins will need to rely on Rask to beat the best in the league. His performance proved that he still has the ability to go toe to toe with a lethal offense while Khudobin seemed in over his head.

Next: Bruins Week 9: Team is good when healthy

The goalie in the opposite net deserves some credit. Although the Predators scored five goals, Pekka Rinne had a heavy workload stopping 37 shots from the opening seconds to the final buzzer. The Bruins threw everything they had at Rinne in an attempt to climb back in the game, but Rinne stayed strong smothering pucks left and right along with the Bruins’ hopes for an epic comeback.