Some of the same problems that plagued the Nashville Predators during the regular season came back to haunt them in their 4-3 double overtime loss to the Chicago Blackhawks in game one of the first round. After charging to a 3-0 in a completely dominant first period, the woes of the regular season stuck with the Predators in the second period. For the last quarter of the regular season, Nashville struggled in the second period, often allowing the opponent to get back into the game. The same story played true on Wednesday night. Chicago tallied three goals in the second period, tying the game.
“We came out really well, and the fans were cheering loud,” said Ryan Ellis. “We were pumped up, ready to go. Then we got in some penalty trouble, and good teams like that are going to burn you. They did a good job. It came down to the wire there and you never know what’s going to happen. Good for them, they won the game, but we have game two coming up and that’s what we’re focusing on now.”
Penalties plagued Nashville in the second period. The Blackhawks scored twice on the power play, and made the Predators pay for their mistakes.
“I think once you get in penalty trouble, it mixes up the lines,” said Ellis. “Some guys get out more than others. They have a high skill level, and they’re going to execute. We can’t give them those chances, and we did tonight and paid for it.”
Both teams brought the intensity back for the third period and it seemed as if both goalies got hot. With Scott Darling replacing Corey Crawford in the second, he stopped multiple attempts by Nashville to keep the game tied throughout regulation. For the game, Darling had 42 saves.
“He was great tonight,” said Ellis on Darling. “Obviously coming in cold and his first playoff game, good for him. He played well and give him credit. He stopped a lot of pucks.”
Part of what made Nashville successful in the first period was their physicality. They pushed hard on the forecheck and laid the body as much as they could. In total for the game, the Predators had 39 hits compared to 28 for Chicago.
Nashville got back to their game later in the third, forechecking and being physical. They couldn’t get the game-winning goal, but continued into the first overtime period. Again, it was Scott Darling that came up big for the Blackhawks multiple times.
“I think five on five, we can play with a lot of teams,” said Ellis. “We play hard. I think once we stayed out of the box, we showed that. They played a good game, we played a good game, and it came down to one shot.”
Captain Shea Weber was also pleased with the team’s play in the third and in overtime.
“Other than the second period, I thought we played a really good game five on five,” said Weber. “We had some good chances to win it, but it just didn’t go our way.”
In the playoffs, it’s vital for each team to have a short memory. Celebrate the win or forget the loss and move on as games are mostly played every other day.
“We just have to put it behind us,” said Weber. “Playoffs are short term. They won and just have to move forward. You can’t dwell on anything. Learn from a couple things tonight and I’m sure we’ll go over it tomorrow and get back to work.”
The team will hold a practice for players that did not participate in game one on Thursday. Game two is Friday night at 8:30pm CDT.