ashton-remax_NEWGood special teams often can’t win you games by itself, but bad special teams can certainly lose you games.

The Nashville Predators found that out the hard way on Thursday night, falling 3-1 to the Toronto Maple Leafs, who tallied on two of their three power play opportunities. Meanwhile, Nashville went 0 for 5 with the man advantage.

In their first seven minutes and 24 seconds of power play time, the Predators mustered just one shot. After Filip Forsberg scored his 30th goal of the season to cut Toronto’s lead to one in the third period, Nashville got a monumental power play opportunity.

They managed five more shots on net, but could not put any past goaltender Frederik Andersen.

“For the first two periods on the power play, we didn’t do anything,” Forsberg said. “It was terrible, to be honest. We just had to do something to change it, and I think we were just working harder.”

For most of the night, the Predators seemed to dominate at even strength. They outshot the Maple Leafs 24-11 at even strength, compared with an even six to six in shots on the power play, even though Toronto had two less opportunities with the man advantage.

Here is how much Nashville dominated in the Corsi ratio, courtesy of Natural Stat Trick:

20162017-21146-cfdiff-evThe Predators out-chanced the Maple Leafs for essentially the entire game at even strength, making those two Toronto power play goals that much more backbreaking.
ships n tripsToronto has the NHL’s second-most effective power play, only behind the Buffalo Sabres. Rookie Mitch Marner had a point on the Maple Leafs’ first power play opportunity, and Calder Trophy favorite Auston Matthews tallied their second goal on a beautiful wrist shot that beat Pekka Rinne over the glove.
Predators defenseman P.K. Subban thought the Leafs were the beneficiaries of some golden chances.
“I think that they were opportune,” Subban said. “They had opportunities. On their first one, they just kind of wristed it to the net and van Riemsdyk made a nice little tip. On their second one we did a good job of killing, and on their third one, just a fortuitous bounce right to him in the slot, and he buried it. You’ve got to give them credit, they capitalized on their opportunities.”
Continuum Planning PartnersHead coach Peter Laviolette also noted a huge difference in the two teams’ power plays throughout most of the game: the ability to just shoot the puck.
“I think we were a little bit too cute in the first two periods,” he said. “The whole game is about shooting the puck right now. Honestly, just get it into the offensive zone and shoot the puck. It can hit anything, it can hit them, it can hit us, it can hit a stick, it could be a rebound, it could be a second opportunity. In the third period, we had a bit more of that mindset.”
With their second-straight regulation loss, the Predators will have to continue to wait to clinch a playoff spot. Nashville has no potential of clinching a spot with the Los Angeles Kings’ result against the Vancouver Canucks Friday night.
Tensions are not running high yet, but Laviolette was blunt about his team’s ability to clinch a playoff berth.
“Our goal is to move forward and qualify for the playoffs, and we’re not there,” he said. “We’ve got work to do.”
The Predators hit the ice again on Saturday, taking on the struggling Minnesota Wild in a matinee. Puck drop is scheduled for 1:00 PM.

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