With all the talk regarding how games started, the Nashville Predators looked to make a statement on in Game 4. Consider their statement made.
There has been much talk revolving around the opening series between the Nashville Predators and the Colorado Avalanche. Topics include how the Predators seem to get away with everything and are classless players, the quality of Nathan MacKinnon and his line, to how the teams have started each game. Coming into Game 4, the Predators knew they had to make adjustments. Starting fast and playing better defense were the name of the game.
They certainly achieved those goals for most of the night. But it was not all sunshine and rainbows for the Predators. Penalties halted much of the progress in the second and third period. At times, it appeared the officials swallowed their whistles. Then, they call ticky-tack penalties. One thing is for sure, they have been inconsistent.
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When the dust settled and the game was over, the Predators took a commanding 3 games to one lead in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
How it happened.
From the time the puck dropped, the Nashville Predators took over. Two early penalties on the Avalanche helped Nashville gain a 5v3 advantage, but they did not score. When play returned to even-strength, Colorado forward J.T. Compher skated down the ice and into the team’s offensive zone. He was met by P.K. Subban, as the two players collided. While the Avalanche fans cried out in horror, declaring a dirty penalty on their most hated opponent, Filip Forsberg provided a second filthy goal of the series.
While the goal was the highlight of the opening period, the real story was the aggressive defense of the Predators. The Avalanche tallied only eight shots during 5v5 play, none coming from MacKinnon, Rantanen, or Landeskog. Nashville used speed and positioning to keep Colorado out fo the offensive zone and gain their own possession. After 20 minutes, the Predators lead 1-0 on the scoreboard due to 15-8 shot difference, and gaining seven high-danger chances.
The second period started a bit differently and the Predators started to get called for penalties. Five penalties provided eight minutes of uneven strength, including 5v3 chances for the Avalanche. The Predator stood tall and killed off all chances, and then took control. Colton Sissons is in playoff form, and notched his third goal of the series. Gaining the pass after a rebound, Sissons’ smooth shot found net quickly.
Ryan Hartman was called for two penalties as part of retaliation for being speared in the groin. Craig Smith was sent to the box to serve one of the penalties. When he came out of the box, it was perfect timing. The Predators killed off the penalty thanks to great saves from Pekka Rinne, send the puck down ice, and Smith took over.
Third period crumble?
The final 20 minutes saw the Predator lead 3-0, but play was getting chippy. Eight total penalties were called in the second period and hits seemed more aggressive. About five minutes into the period, the Predators were called for two more penalties. The first was a tripping call on Sissons, and while it was a delayed penalty, Hartman crosschecked Carl Soderberg. He is not under review by NHL Player Safety.
It was at this time things changed. The Avalanche started to roll. Landeskog scored the first Colorado goal during the ensuing power play chance. A few moments later, Alexander Kerfoot scored. However, the goal was reviewed for goalie interference. Even though Kerfoot skated into the crease, making contact with Pekka Rinne, the mysterious officials known as “Toronto” allowed the goal. The puck was loose on Rinne’s pad, during contact.
The Avalanche were aggressive during the final period, playing out of desparation. They outshot the Predators 11-7, keeping the pressure on. However, it was too little too late. Nashville won the game, heading home with a 3-1 series lead.
It was not a complete game from the Nashville Predators. Forty-minutes of great hockey slacked into a series of emotional play. Still, it was the start and completion they were looking for in the game.