The Islanders were unable to find the back of the net Sunday night in Nashville, falling 2-0 to the Predators at Bridgestone Arena. Goaltender Anders Nilsson played the entire game in net for the Islanders, allowing two goals on 23 shots. Nashville’s Pekka Rinne and Carter Hutton shared the shutout.
“I didn’t think we played the style that we’re used to playing,” Islanders head coach Jack Capuano said. “It was more of a speed, east-west game as opposed to north-south.”
Capuano felt Nilsson played well in net, though he may have wanted to have the Predators’ second goal back.
“I thought it went okay,” Nilsson said. “It’s good to get back in the flow and play a full game from the start. I’m pretty happy with the way it went, I thought the team played a good game in front of me.”
Neither team cracked the scoreboard in the opening period, but there was still plenty of action. The best Islanders scoring chance in the first came towards the midway point of the period. With his team on the power play, Pierre-Marc Bouchard skated into the zone down the left wing, firing a wrist shot on net. Rinne, however, made the pad save and the game remained scoreless.
There were two fights in the first period, the first one coming just 1:12 into the game. Chris Bruton and Rich Clune traded huge punches before Clune’s jersey got pulled over his head and the linesmen stopped the fight. Later in the period, Matt Carkner dropped the gloves with Matt Hendricks, ending with Carkner wrestling the former Washington Capital to the ice.
The Predators struck first at 3:07 of the second period. With the puck to the right of the Islanders net, Filip Forsberg found Gabriel Bourque streaking towards the crease. Bourque tapped it home and gave the Predators a 1-0 lead.
Five minutes later, Nashville doubled their lead on a goal from Austin Watson. Craig Smith came into the zone on a 1-on-1 rush against Joe Finley. Smith’s shot was blocked, but Finley lost his stick in the process. The puck fell right to Watson, who beat Nilsson and gave the Predators a 2-0 lead.
“I thought he was going high,” Nilsson said. “But he fanned on it and it went underneath my legs. Even though that happened, I should never lift my legs on that. The second goal is my goal.”
After two periods, Predators head coach Barry Trotz turned to Hutton in net. The only time a puck got past a Predators goaltender was when Sundstrom deflected a shot from the point past Hutton, but it was ruled to have been touched by a high stick.
“The one thing for me is that we’ve gone six periods of hockey without a goal,” Capuano said, referring to the previous night’s exhibition game in which the Islanders failed to score against the New Jersey Devils. “So that tells us about some of the things we need to work on as the week moves forward.”
The Islanders and Predators will meet again Friday night at Nassau Coliseum.
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