The Nashville Predators’ season came to a screeching holt last night. In the first ever game seven at Bridgestone Arena, the Preds were unable to take care of business.
Following an exciting and uplifting shutout victory in game six, Nashville was set to host their first game seven.
The Preds were one of the best teams in the league on home ice during the regular season. Unfortunately that success did not carry over to the postseason. Entering last night’s game, Nashville was a measly 3-3 at home. Regardless, the Preds were happy to be playing at home, along with all the fans.
Sheryl Crow sang the anthem for game seven, and everything went downhill from there. Nashville failed on an early power play, and Winnipeg countered with a goal from Tyler Myers. Before the fans could even blink, Rinne let in another soft goal two minutes later. With the risk of the game getting completely out of hand early, coach Laviolette made the tough decision to pull Rinne only ten minutes in.
Juuse Saros was called into action for the third time this series, and rightfully warranted. For the next 27 minutes of game action, Laviolette looked like a genius. Nashville was able to cut the lead in half with a goal from P.K. Subban right before the first period ended, and things finally looked liked they were starting to turn around.
Saros continued his great play into the second period, however, the offense did not. The Preds were only able to muster six shots for the entirety of the second period. This was an extremely poor effort when considering the circumstances. They were down by one goal, in a game seven, with their backup goaltender playing out of his mind. Yet, they were unable to perform when it mattered most. Then two minutes prior to the period ending, the Preds turned the puck over which led to an odd-man situation that the Jets scored off of.
The third period saw the Preds offense finally show up in even-strength play. Sadly, it was too little, too late at this point. Nashville was able to generate shots, but that was it. They didn’t crash the rebounds and they couldn’t generate high-danger chances. Frustration set in and Nashville took their first penalty. In typical fashion, Winnipeg scored 20 seconds into the man-advantage, effectively icing the game. The Jets added an empty-netter late sending the Nashville Predators into the offseason.
The story of the game, and the series, was capitalizing off of the other team’s mistakes. It seemed like Nashville was given chance after chance, but was just unable to take advantage of them. Meanwhile, on the other side of the ice, the Jets made the most of every opprotunity. They scored on their only power play of the night, and scored off of nearly every Nashville mistake.
The Preds dominated stretches of play throughout the series, but Winnipeg was the more opportunistic team. In the playoffs that is all that matters. Winnipeg and Nashville are both great teams, but the Jets proved they were the better team in game 7 and deserve to be moving on.
As for the Predators, there will be a lot to discuss this offseason.
The core of this team is all set to return, and Nashville should find themselves as immediate contenders once again. However, just being a contender might not be enough for them next season. The Preds will need some more consistency on offense, so it will be interesting how they go about getting it.
No matter what it, has been one hell of a season, and the 2018-19 season will be here before we know it.