Saturday, April 25, 2015

Predators Season Ends After Falling 4-3 to the Blackhawks

Game 6 was a do or die game for the Predators. Down 3 games to 2, the Predators were going to have to win in Chicago to force a game 7 in Nashville.

The Predators opened the game with a sense of desperation as James Neal tallied twice and Matt Cullen scored a beauty to chase Scott Darling midway of the first period and send Corey Crawford into the net. Darling gave up 3 goals on 12 shots.

This Blackhawks team is talented and has no quit. A goal by Patrick Sharp and a power play goal by Jonathan Toews cut the Predators lead to 3-2. Sharp had an empty net as Rinne was out of position and Rinne had no chance on a redirect off Toews skate.

The Hawks tied the game up with 6 seconds remaining in the first period as Patrick Kane beat Rinne top shelf through traffic.

So after the great start by the Predators, the game was even after one period.

The second period was scoreless, but the Hawks often carried the play to the Predators.

As in the second period, the Blackhawks had the better of the play in the Predators offensive zone. After a furious scramble, Duncan Keith beat Rinne through traffic to give the Hawks a 4-3 lead with 3:40 remaining in the game.

The Predators pulled Rinne for the extra attacker with 2:05  remaining in the game. It was to no avail as the Predators could not find the net and saw their season end with a 4-3 loss.

Some observations:

  • Great start by the Predators as they continued their attacking style of play and chased Darling from the net in the first period. When the Predators are attacking the net and using their speed, they are hard to play against. they used this style to get the Hawks back on their heels early in the game.
  • Once again, the Predators squandered a great start. One of the things this coaching staff is going to have to do is to change the DNA of this team. You just cannot keep giving up multi-goal leads and expect to win games. This has plagued this team over the last half of the season and in the playoffs.
  • James Neal has to come up big for the Predators and his two goals in the first period are the lift he needs to provide. Neal has tremendous offensive talent and needs to utilize like he has in his last two games if the Predators are going to win this series.
  • As good as Neal was in the offensive zone, his cross check behind the play that resulted in  Hawks power play goal was just stupid. You CANNOT take a dumb penalty like that in a game of this magnitude.The Hawks power play is a potent weapon, and giving them the man advantage like that is just unacceptable.
  • The Predators got killed in the face off circle in the first period and two of the three Hawks goals were a direct result of the Predators being unable to win faceoffs. The Predators had been pretty good in the circle until this game, and it cost them on the scoreboard. The Predators were 12 of 30 in the dot in the first period.
  • That said, the Predators won 13 of 21 faceoffs in the second period.
  • Both teams tightened up their defense in the second period and there was was not nearly as much room as in the first period. In the third period, it was going to come down to a matter of will to get to the prime scoring areas for the Predators.
  • After an explosive first period, the Predators offense did not generate many quality chances on Crawford. The offense could not find a rhythm and get the puck on net with any consistency and failed to challenge what had to be a shaky goalie.
Once again, the Predators just could not hold a lead and saw their season slip away because of that inability.

Not much else to say. I will have a post season wrap up later.

My three stars:

1. Duncan Keith

2. James Neal

3. Patrick Sharp

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