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Nashville Predators

Predators Must Have A Short Memory After Woeful Game 1 Loss



Photo of Tommy Novak, center, by John Russell/Nashville Predators

It’s no secret that Sunday’s 4-2 Game 1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks was disappointing, especially considering the Nashville Predators were leading heading into the final frame.

At the start of the season, fans likely felt uneasy about the Predators trying to protect a lead when facing one of the league’s best teams. But after their late-season turnaround, Nashville demonstrated it can, in fact, close out games.

Against the Canucks, the Predators, at times, looked a bit inexperienced. They strayed from their typical game and the puck-aggressive system that helped them storm into the playoffs.

After the Canucks capitalized on a few Predators’ mistakes and tied the game midway through the third period, the Predators, unlike previous games, couldn’t recompose themselves, settle down, and negate Vancouver’s building momentum.

Predators head coach Andrew Brunette acknowledged that the Predators got in their own way at times, especially during the 12-second span in the third period in which they conceded the go-ahead and insurance goals.

“We just stepped on our toe a little bit,” the first-year coach said. “Give them credit, they were resilient, too. They took advantage of some opportunities that [were] self-inflicted a little bit on our side. But they played really hard.”

The Predators let the opportunity to wrestle away home-ice advantage fall through their fingers. They took a don’t-get-too-high, don’t-get-too-low approach after losses during the regular season — advice that’s all the more important in the playoffs.

If there’s one thing Nashville has seemingly mastered this season, it’s the ability to battle through adversity and use it as a tool when its back is against the wall.

“I think this group has been resilient,” Brunette added. “We’ve handled adversity all year… we probably didn’t play our best [Sunday]. We’ve done a really good job at just moving straight ahead. Just forget about it, rinse it, and let’s go back to work.”

With several young players on their roster who are playing in their first playoff series, there’s been a bit of an adjustment period for the Predators’ youngsters.

However, the experience the team has with veterans like Ryan O’Reilly, Roman Josi, Filip Forsberg, Ryan McDonagh, and Luke Schenn should help the Predators reset properly and regroup for Game 2 on Tuesday rather than let Game 1’s disappointment haunt them.

“I don’t like a lot of my game tonight,” O’Reilly said. “I’m usually better defensively and a little harder to play against. So, it’s frustrating.”

O’Reilly was brought in to shore up the middle of the ice and be a veteran leader/mentor to the younger players on the team — a role he takes seriously. So, it’s no surprise that he took the loss as hard as he did.

However, Brunette isn’t worried about the headspace O’Reilly is in or how he will respond in Game 2.

“He’s a tremendous leader; a guy that’s won,” Brunette said. “A guy that’s clutch in the big moments. And I’m sure he’s disappointed, but I think he’s been through so many of these things. He’ll be ready to go the next game. I don’t think he’ll let it linger.”

Regardless of the outcome of Tuesday’s Game 2, the Predators cane take solace in getting back-to-back games at home to close out the week.

They’re 7-1-2 in their last 10 home games, averaging 4.1 goals per game and allowing only 2.7. Nashville’s power play is also clicking at a 33.3% success rate during those home games, while their penalty kill has been extremely stingy, operating at 91.7%.

While the Predators need to correct some mistakes before Game 2, they proved they can hang with the Canucks and the moment didn’t seem too big for them.

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