After allowing a flukey first-period goal off the skate of Morgan Frost, the Nashville Predators rebounded with two-goal periods in the second and third to knock off the Philadelphia Flyers 4-2 on Thursday night at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
With every game you take the good with the bad, so here’s a look at what went right and what didn’t in the Predators’ win Thursday night.
(+) Philip Tomasino nets first multi-goal game
What was impressive wasn’t just the fact that Tomasino scored two goals, it was the skill with which he used to score them.
On his first goal, he and Tommy Novak played the 2-on-1 rush perfectly, forcing Flyers defenseman Cam York to try and defend both until the last second when Tomasino got the puck, skated toward the right of the net, drawing goaltender Samuel Ersson out, before cutting back to the outside and lifting a back-hander up and into the net.
On his second goal, Tomasino actually set the play up himself by stealing the puck away from Flyers defenseman Sean Walker at the blue line before chipping it to Colton Sissons, who carried it into the offensive zone.
From there, Sissons hit Tomasino in stride as he crashed the net and fired off a wrister from near the slot. For a brief second, Tomasino stopped before maneuvering his shot between two Flyers defensemen and just above Ersson’s blocker.
(-) Power(less) play
Nashville’s power play has been hovering around 20% this year, so given the five PP opportunities the team had Thursday night, one could have expected at least one goal from that, right?
The Predators mustered only three shots on goal and nine total shot attempts (eight of which were unblocked) while winning just three faceoffs on all five power-play opportunities combined, per Money Puck. I know most don’t expect much from Nashville’s power play, but Thursday’s performance was lackluster — even by the Predators’ standards.
(+) Juuse Saros bounces back
Following one of the worst performances of his career just two nights prior against Vancouver, Saros responded exactly how the team expected. He stopped 29 of 31 shots, and let’s be honest, one of those shouldn’t even count because of how improbable the whole thing was. It was the fifth time in his last six games Saros has had a save percentage of .935 or better, and it was also the ninth time in his last 12 starts he allowed two or fewer goals.
Surrendering five goals in 40 minutes against the Canucks is something that could have shaken Saros’ confidence after his uneven start to the season, but shutting down a Flyers team that had won seven of its last eight entering Thursday’s matchup was exactly the kind of bounce-back performance he needed. (Side note: Saros is the only goalie to beat Philly this month, and he’s done it twice).
(-) Yakov Trenin gets ejected
For the second straight outing, the Predators had a forward get a game misconduct and head to the showers early. Trenin was assessed a major penalty for boarding Frost and also hit with a game misconduct at 12:37 of the second period.
Yakov Trenin was given a 5 minute major for boarding on this hit on Morgan Frost. pic.twitter.com/X85KIW3XkW
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) December 22, 2023
What made matters worse was the fact that the officials initially called it a two-minute minor for slashing before conferring and changing it to the boarding major. Trenin’s actions were dangerous, there’s no disputing that, but whether or not it was ejection-worthy is highly debatable.
(+) Pulling out a win despite being down two forwards
I’ve felt like Andrew Brunette has played with fire rolling with 11 forwards and seven defensemen as much as he has this season, and he’s lucky his decision to do so against the Flyers didn’t come back to bite him after Trenin was ejected.
Filip Forsberg, Ryan O’Reilly, Gustav Nyquist, Colton Sissons and Cole Smith all skated 25 or more shifts, while Forsberg (20:24) and O’Reilly (21:24) eclipsed 20 minutes of ice time and Nyquist nearly did as well (19:42). Against a team like Dallas or Colorado, playing with only 10 forwards is a recipe for disaster, but kudos to the Predators for making it work against Philly.
Follow Michael Gallagher on X/Twitter @MGsports_