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Here’s What Went Wrong In Predators’ Game 1 Loss To The Canucks



Photo of Alex Carrier, right, by John Russell/Nashville Predators

For two-and-a-half periods, it looked like the Nashville Predators finally solved the enigma that is the Vancouver Canucks.

Then a disastrous 12-second span in the third period in which Pius Suter and Dakota Johnson scored back-to-back goals served as a stark reminder that the Canucks have had the Predators’ number this season, and Sunday night at the Rogers Center was no different.

Vancouver cruised to a 4-2 win, taking a 1-0 series lead and leaving Nashville scrambling for answers.

“It’s something that was uncharacteristic of us the last 40 games or so,” Predators head coach Brunette said. “It was a little bit of a theme early in the year where the shift after [allowing] a goal is so important, and we just didn’t execute. It was a breakdown, [as was] the goal before too. A little disappointing, obviously, we haven’t done that in a long time. … We’ve really tried to minimize that and we didn’t tonight.”

Here’s a recap of exactly what went wrong in Nashville’s Game 1 loss.

— Predators fall back into old habits

For the first two-thirds of the regular season, the third period was typically the one that did Nashville in.

Through the first 54 games of the year, the Predators scored the seventh-fewest third-period goals (48) and allowed the 12th-most (58) in the NHL, and they had the seventh-worst win percentage when leading to start the third period (.773).

But in the final 28 games, the Predators led the NHL in win percentage when leading after two periods (100%), and they were one of just two teams in that span with 15 or more wins when leading to start the third period.

However, Sunday’s loss to Vancouver was just the second time since the All-Star break that the Predators lost a game in which they led after two periods. It’s true that this version of the Predators is not the same one the Canucks faced three times before Christmas, but that won’t matter much if Nashville doesn’t actually learn from past mistakes.

— The Jeremy LauzonAlex Carrier pairing was a liability

The numbers aren’t pretty. It’s one thing to watch it happen out on the ice, but to see it reinforced by the metrics just drives home how bad Lauzon and Carrier actually were.

The duo played 16:17 together per Money Puck, and they surrendered 18 shot attempts against, 13 unblocked shot attempts against, 10 scoring chances against, six shots on goal against and 4 high-danger chances against (they allowed one high-danger goal), and they ended the night with 1.03 on-ice expected goals against, a -0.67 on-ice expected goal differential and an 83.3 on-ice save percentage.

Maybe Sunday was just an uncharacteristically off night for the two, but Brunette doesn’t exactly have the luxury of giving them the benefit of the doubt. It’s possible that either Dante Fabbro or Tyson Barrie take Carrier’s spot in the lineup in Game 2.

Photo via X (@hockeystatcards)

Filip Forsberg’s disappearing act

Following a 48-goal, 94-point regular season, nobody expected Forsberg to look as invisible as he did on Sunday.

The 29-year-old Swede averaged nearly 4.5 shots on goal per game during the regular season, but against the Canucks on Sunday, he finished with only three shots on goal in 20:08 of ice time (for those bad at math, that’s one shot approximately every six minutes and 36 seconds).

Forsberg finished with a -0.73 on-ice expected goal differential (fourth-worst among forwards) and a -0.089 goals above expected (fifth-worst among forwards), marking one of his worst offensive performances this season. The Predators aren’t going to win many games if Forsberg isn’t driving offense.

Follow Michael Gallagher on X/Twitter @MGsports_

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