By Amanda DiPaolo
The Western Conference Semi-Finals series between the Nashville Predators and the Vancouver Canucks is back in British Columbia for Game 5 on Saturday night, with Nashville on the brink of elimination.
Before game 4, Predators defenseman Shane O’Brien talked about how important it was for the team to even the series.
“We let one slip away there in game three. They took home ice advantage right back from us. If you look at the playoffs, home ice advantage hasn’t been as important as years before,” O’Brien, the former Canuck, said about the overtime loss in game three when the Canucks were awarded two questionable power plays that both resulted in goals for Vancouver, including a power play marker to end the game in overtime.
“It’s no secret, we don’t want to get down 3-1 in this series against a good time like that over there. You don’t want to fall down 3-1 going back to Vancouver for game 5.”
But the Predators were unable to pull out a win on Thursday night and now find themselves in the very hole they were trying to avoid.
In the last two games, Nashville has allowed three power play goals scored against them, all by Ryan Kesler.
O’Brien led the team in penalty minutes during the regular season with 83 PIM, and is second on the team with 16 penalty minutes so far during the playoffs.
With a potent Vancouver offense, staying out of the box has been key for Nashville in keeping the series close.
O’Brien took his first minor penalty against Vancouver on Thursday night when he was called for a hi-stick. The 27 year old says the team goal of winning has helped him keep his emotions in check against his former team.
“It’s easy when you are in the playoffs playing for the Stanley Cup. It’s about the Nashville Predators. It’s not about anything else. It’s about trying to win four games before Vancouver does.”
During the Western Conference Quarter Finals, O’Brien took 7 minor penalties. One of the key penalty killers for the Predators, Nashville was largely unsuccessful killing a penalty when they didn’t have O’Brien on the ice in short handed situations.
While every game in the series has been close with no team taking a two-goal lead until Henrik Sedin’s empty net goal on Thursday, O’Brien says the Predators can play better. The Port Hope, Ontario native said he didn’t think Nashville has yet to play its best game. “I still don’t think we played our best game of the series–the way we can play and the way we played down the stretch.”
“I still don’t think we put together a whole 60 minutes of Preds hockey, as Trotzy would say,” he said.
The Predators try to stay alive Saturday night in Vancouver. Puck drop is at 7pm.
Photo credit: Getty Images
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