Nashville Predators: Busting the myth in a game decided by centimeters

DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 07: Colton Sissons #10 of the Nashville Predators celebrates with his bench after scoring his third goal of the game against the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center on November 7, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 07: Colton Sissons #10 of the Nashville Predators celebrates with his bench after scoring his third goal of the game against the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center on November 7, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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The Nashville Predators traveled to Denver and faced a solid Avalanche team. Regardless of feelings about the officials, Nashville came out with 2 points.

It is a generally held belief that no one likes to lose. When you do come out on the losing side, it is easy to point fingers and assess blame. When the Nashville Predators lost to the San Jose Sharks, we chalked it up to playing conservatively after a “large” lead was gained.

Last night, Nashville took on the Colorado Avalanche in a rematch of the opening playoff series last season. The Predators swept the regular season series, but were forced to a Game 6 contest in the playoffs. There was a great deal of anticipation going into the game at the Pepsi Center. When all was done, the Predators left with victory and Avalanche fans blamed the officiating.

I get it. Each of the goals tallied by the Avalanche were reviewed. Two due to challenges, and one because an official on the ice waved off the goal. It turned into a game of centimeters. After reviews, two goals were disallowed due to the play being offsides.

On the first, defenseman Samuel Girard used his pattened spin-move to escape the defense. When he did, the puck just moved over the blue line but mere millimeters. Coach Peter Laviolette challenged the call, knowing if he was wrong the goal would stand and the Predators would go on a penalty kill. He was right, and the goal was removed.

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Similarly, in the third period, Colin Wilson‘s shot found the back of the net. Once again, Laviolette challenged and was rewarded. It turns out an Avalanche player failed to drag his toe, making him offsides. No goal.

Two goals. Two video reviews. To corrections. Laviolette took chances and came out on top. Had the reviews gone the other way, Predators fans would be questioning the challenges. And, maybe saying the referees were incorrect.

More to the story

While the reviews are part of the story, they are not the entire book. Take a look at these facts.

For the first two periods, the Nashville Predators outshot the Avalanche, 29-17. The final Corsi difference was 54% to 46%, though it was wider before the final period. Even so, the Avalanche had 20 scoring chances and 11 high-danger chances. They failed to take advantage of their opportunities.

Or, more like, Pekka Rinne turned them away. He may have only faced 25 shots on the night, be several came right in front of him. And, from Nathan MacKinnon.

Even on breakaway chances, Rinne held back the Avalanche. Just look at Sheldon Dries‘ chance for a short-handed goal.

Then you have the Predators forwards playing defense. We all know the quality of play the Avalanche gets from their top line. Mikko Rantanen, Gabriel Landeskog, and MacKinnon are an amazing trio. They are going to be a force to reckon with in the NHL for many years. There is no doubting their ability.

Fact is, the Predators third line shut down MacKinnon and friends. For the game, none of the Avalanche top line finished with a FenwickFor rating greater than 33.33%. They gained 10 shots at 5v5. Half of their time on the ice was against Nick Bonino, Colton Sissons, and Ryan Hartman. The Predators line double up their opponents’ shots and scored two goals.

The MacKinnon line also allowed 8 high-danger chances to the Predators. Colton Sissons scored on two of those chances. Furthermore, if there was a conspiracy, the penalties would likely be skewed to the Predators’ favor. The Avs gained 16 more hits than Nashville, and a few were borderline. Still, each team had three power plays, scoring on one.

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Sure, the reviews helped the Nashville Predators, but the team did enough on their own to win the game. The mystery of a conspiracy: Busted.