Amidst the drama of Jimmy Vesey’s representatives announcing that the Nashville prospect would seek free agency instead of signing with the team, the Predators were in a battle with the Colorado Avalanche to secure a berth in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs with a regulation victory. Even with a stellar effort late in the third period, the Predators fell to their Central Division foe 4-3.
Midway through the first period, Nashville was already down 3-0 to the Avalanche and head coach Peter Laviolette decided to pull goaltender Pekka Rinne in hopes that a change could spark the team. The Predators finally got on the board less than six minutes later with Craig Smith’s 20th of the season, but it still wasn’t enough.
“It’s easier when you start and you have time to prepare, but there’s always that thinking you’re going to play,” said goaltender Carter Hutton. “I thought Pekka got hung out to dry a lot tonight. Just to get me in there to try to get the team going and kind of a wake-up call. It’s not the easiest thing, but that’s my job just to try get in there and try to help. Obviously it wasn’t enough tonight, but we made it close.”
While the Predators did finally get a goal on the board in the first period, they still didn’t do much to help their own cause. They played a more responsible game when Hutton took over, but still couldn’t muster enough goals.
“It’s a terrible feeling when you see your starter getting pulled from a game,” said Colton Sissons, who scored the second goal for Nashville. “It gives you that extra little shot of adrenaline an motivation to hopefully turn things around for the new guy coming in between the pipes.”
Similar to last Thursday’s game against Vancouver, the Predators mounted a great third period effort. Sissons made the game 4-2 at 14:58 and then Roman Josi made it a 4-3 game just 24 seconds later. The team couldn’t notch the game-tying goal, but the third period effort is something to build on.
“Yeah, we can definitely build off that third, that push at the end,” said Hutton. “It wasn’t the start we wanted, but that’s the way it goes sometimes, and we’ll be better for it.”
There are elements to the game that the Predators can certainly change going into Tuesday night’s game against Dallas. Monday was not a full, 60-minute effort, and that’s what it will take to defeat the Stars.
“I think just that desperate mindset from the get go. I think we were missing that a little bit. [Colorado] had that. They’re a desperate hockey club right now.”
– Colton Sissons
“I think just that desperate mindset from the get go,” said Sissons on what the team will need. “I think we were missing that a little bit. [Colorado] had that. They’re a desperate hockey club right now in Colorado, and we’re going to need that tomorrow night against the Stars. They’re playing really good hockey right now.”
The good thing for Nashville is that they have a quick turnaround to put Monday’s loss behind them.
“Yeah, we just have to make sure we get our rest tonight once we get into Dallas,” said Sissons. “We have a tough test tomorrow night.”