The Nashville Predators started the new year on a positive note, defeating the Chicago Blackhawks 3-0 last night at Bridgestone Arena on the shoulders of a shutout from goaltender Juuse Saros.
Saros has now moved into second place on the Predators’ all-time shutout list with 22, only trailing his mentor and fellow countryman Pekka Rinne (60). The Predators were also able to shut down young phenom Connor Bedard and limit him to zero goals, shots and points in 19:04 of ice time.
There were a lot of fun games played at the World Junior Championship in Sweden on Tuesday with Finland topping Slovakia in overtime, Czechia upsetting Canada on a last-second game-winner, the USA defeating Latvia, and Sweden surviving against Switzerland in OT.
While Predators’ prospect Matthew Wood will be heading home early, there’s plenty of positives to take away from the 18-year-old’s first WJC performance. Despite being the 13th forward on the roster and not receiving much ice time, he continued to perform when he was given the chance. Another Predators’ prospect — defenseman Kasper Kulonummi — lives to fight another day for Team Finland.
The semifinals begin on Wednesday when Sweden takes on Czechia at 8 a.m. CST and USA takes on Finland at 12:30 p.m. CST. Germany will play Norway in the relegation game to see who has the right to return next season.
Nashville Hockey Now
The plus/minus report from Tuesday’s shutout win over the Blackhawks, which details a strong effort from Nashville’s power play and discusses Gustav Nyquist’s recent hot streak, can be read here.
Milwaukee Admirals forward Denis Gurianov was honored with an AHL award on Tuesday. The Russian has demonstrated that he remains determined to return to the NHL.
As Tyson Barrie continues to remain off the ice due to injury, the question remains as to what a potential trade involving the 32-year-old defenseman could look like.
Central Division Standings
- Colorado Avalanche — 24-11-3, 51 points
- Winnipeg Jets — 23-9-4, 50 points
- Dallas Stars — 22-10-4, 48 points
- Nashville Predators — 21-16-1, 43 points
- Arizona Coyotes — 19-15-2, 40 points
- St. Louis Blues — 18-17-1, 37 points
- Minnesota Wild — 16-16-4, 36 points
- Chicago Blackhawks — 11-24-2, 24 points
Chicago Hockey Now: Is it right to blame head coach Luke Richardson for the Blackhawks’ results this season?
Pittsburgh Hockey Now: Last night it was like old times with Ovechkin and Crosby battling it out, but the Penguins struggled early before fighting back from a four goal deficit to only lose 4-3.
New Jersey Hockey Now: The Devils’ star forward Timo Meier remains on the sidelines to start 2024.
Follow Clay Brewer on Twitter/X: @ClayBrewer10