Predators Withstand Spears, Cup-Checks, and Cross Checks to Win Game 4
by Taylor Parks
The Nashville Predators looked to take back momentum in game 4 after what can only be described as a disastrous game 3. The writing was on the wall for the Predators. They got away with wins after an average first two games and were exposed in game 3. They had yet to play a complete 60 minutes and would have to put together a full effort if they wanted a chance to end the series this Friday.
The Predators came out with their hottest start in the series (I know that’s not saying much). Nashville came out firing on absolutely all cylinders to really tilt the ice in their favor early on. Despite all of the pressure, the Predators wouldn’t tally until 15:33 of the first period after Filip Forsberg scored (yet another) absolutely filthy goal. For the first time all series, the Nashville Predators would score first and gain an early lead against the Avalanche.
The Predators continued to pressure the Avs during the second period and started to visibly frustrate the young Avs team. Colton Sissons would score for the Preds at 7:18 of the second period to really silence the Pepsi Center. Things would unravel a bit when Sven Andrighetto would spear Ryan Hartman twice in the groin. After Hartman was called for holding the stick (the same stick that had nearly ended his family tree) Hartman went after Andrighetto leading to an Avs power play. The Predators would kill off the penalty and Craig Smith would score on the ensuing rush to lengthen the lead to 3-0. The Avs would continue to crumble as they would deliver a cross check to Mattias Ekholm’s face and deliver a dangerous hit to Ryan Johansen that would take him out for the majority of the third period.
The Avalanche would make things interesting early in the third period as Gabriel Landeskog would score on the 5-3 power play at 5:20. The Avalanche continued to press and made things very interesting at 11:01 as Alexander Kerfoot would bring the Avs one goal closer. The goal would be challenged for goaltender interference but the call would stand. (Side note, I still don’t know what interference is apparently). The Preds would withstand the Colorado Avalanche’s final push and the Predators would pull out a 3-2 victory.
Things We Learned
Discipline Continues to Be Lacking
Yes we won. That’s great, but this season is much more than just this series. The Predators continue to spend too much time in the box and (thankfully for the Preds) the Avalanche have been unable to make Nashville pay for it. Fortunately for the Preds, the Avalanche are far-and-away the worst team in the entire Stanley Cup Playoffs and if they were to take this amount of penalties against any other team, it could be deadly for them. I’m not asking for much, but just to play smart. Stay out of the scraps that follow plays, don’t give the extra shove, because it’s obvious that the Preds aren’t getting the benefit of the doubt.
A Quick Start Does a Body Good
The Predators made a living during the regular season by playing with fire and playing from behind and finding ways to win. Even in the first two games of the series, Nashville found themselves playing from behind and having to find ways to win. But not tonight. Nashville was dominate from the drop of the puck, and outside of a hiccup in the third period, were dominant throughout. If the Predators play like this and find ways not to go into the “sin bin” their playoff run could be long and prosperous.
Rinne Plays Vezina Hockey
As much grief as Rinne has gotten the previous two games (some of it deserved) he had really been left out to dry by the “best defense core in the NHL”. Tonight, those defensemen earned their pay and gave Rinne the ability to play his usual game. Outside of a handful of high-caliber chances, Roman Josi and company kept the Avalanche in check. Rinne isn’t going to lose us a series, but out top four defensemen might if they don’t play.
Don’t read anything by Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post. It’s click bait and is purely written to get a rise out of Predator fans. Take it from a guy speaking from experience. Let’s shake some hands on Friday.
Photo Credit to the NHL and NHL.com