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Nashville Predators

Here’s What Went Wrong In Predators’ Game 4 Loss To Canucks



Photo of Ryan McDonagh, top, and Juuse Saros by John Russell/Nashville Predators

For 57 minutes and 10 seconds, it appeared as if the Nashville Predators would head back to Vancouver with a tied series and all the momentum on their side.

Now, thanks to an epic three-minute meltdown on the Predators’ part at the end of regulation — one that saw their 3-1 lead quickly evaporate and exposed their biggest flaws (defensive-zone inadequacy) — Nashville is on the ropes and facing elimination on Tuesday while the Canucks have three chances to deliver a series-ending knockout blow.

“I think we’ve gotten better as the series has moved along, so that’s why it’s a little disappointing when you don’t get rewarded for it,” Predators head coach Andrew Brunette said. “But usually when you do the things we’ve been doing, if we can clear our mind and go back to work the hockey gods may give you a little bit of a break here because I thought we did a lot of good things in both these home games that we should’ve at least won one, maybe two.”

Here’s a recap of exactly what went wrong in Nashville’s Game 4 loss.

— No answer for Brock Boeser

The Predators provided a blueprint of exactly how not to defend a 40-goal scorer. On all three of Boeser’s goals, he got behind the defense and was left to shoot uncontested. His first goal came from the left face-off circle where he teed off on a wide-open net with no defenders within three feet of him.

Boeser goal No. 1

Boeser goal No. 1

It was essentially the same thing on his second goal, only he was crashing the net, which again was wide-open.

Boeser goal No. 2

His third goal he snuck in backdoor after collecting a rebound and punched it in with four Canucks players surrounding Juuse Saros and no defensive help to speak of.

Boeser goal No. 3

— No help for Saros

Most of Vancouver’s previous goals in this series have come on screen plays where there’s heavy traffic in front of the net and Saros’ line of sight is blocked. In Game 4, however, there was still traffic in front of the net, but each Canucks shooter had plenty of time and space to work with.

Boeser wasn’t challenged much at all on any of his three goals, and on his overtime game-winner, Elias Lindholm had a clear path to the net with four Predators skaters out of position wide right of the net — it doesn’t get much easier.

Lindholm goal

— Predators’ top players neutralized

Filip Forsberg, Ryan O’Reilly, Gustav Nyquist and Roman Josi accounted for 45% of the Predators offense (120 goals, 324 points) during the regular season, but they’ve been nullified for most of the series.

Sure, Forsberg and Nyquist scored two of Nashville’s three goals in Game 4, and Josi and O’Reilly also picked up assists, but that was the kind of game they should have taken over and dominated in. I’m talking multi-point performances from at least two of them.

Vancouver was down to its third-string goaltender Arturs Silovs, who has nine career NHL starts and was making his playoff debut, and Forsberg, O’Reilly, Nyquist and Josi combined for just six shots on goal, and only Nyquist and Forsberg finished in the positive in goals above expected.

Follow Michael Gallagher on X/Twitter @MGsports_

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