It looked all but a 100 percent certainty that the Nashville Predators were going to end up facing the Calgary Flames in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs next week, but then you get reminded how whacky hockey can be.
The Predators jumped out to a roaring 4-0 lead over the hapless Arizona Coyotes after the first seven minutes of regulation. It looked like an all-star team going up against a junior varsity squad. We were already penciling in our plans to get to Calgary for a playoff game.
Goals from Colton Sissons, Ryan Johansen, Eeli Tolvanen and Mikael Granlund got the team off to a blazing, and what seemed like an insurmountable lead. Though all the scoring Josi added his 96th point of the season, while Forsberg and Duchene also tallied assists.
The epic Nashville Predators collapse begins
And then that’s when the craziness started, and it happened gradually at that. The Coyotes methodically clawed their way back into the game while the Predators were asleep at the wheel.
It took the Coyotes over 14 minutes into the second period before they could make it a 4-2 score on a redicrect shot from way out that Connor Ingram just had trouble tracking.
This is when I thought the Predators would clamp down and finish the job. Oh how wrong I was. The Coyotes would head into the third period down just one goal, and would quickly tie the game up at 4-4 less than two minutes into the final period. A one-timer blast just as the power play had expired. So essentially a power play goal, just not in the record books.
Ingram had a rough night to say the least. Just 22 saves on 27 shots faced and no relief coming from the bench. He was basically on an island and had to go wire to wire no matter how ugly it got.
Coyotes would complete the comeback by score a little past the midway point of the third period on another blast from way out near the blueline off a faceoff win. Again, another puck that Ingram just didn’t track well and must have snuck up on him.
Just a horrendous way to close out the regular season and head into the playoffs. Bad for the psyche, bad for the moral, and no confidence in the goaltender situation with Juuse Saros being out for almost certainly the next few weeks.
The Nashville Predators will open up their 2022 playoff campaign on Tuesday at the Colorado Avalanche for a 8:30 PM CT puck drop. Here’s the full playoff schedule for the first round:
- Game 1 @ COL: Tuesday 5/3
- Game 2 @ COL: Thursday 5/5
- Game 3 @ NSH: Saturday 5/7
- Game 4 @ NSH: Monday 5/9
- Game 5 @ COL (if necessary) TBD
- Game 6 @ NSH (if necessary) TBD
- Game 7 @ COL (if necessary) TBD
I think we all would rather be gonig up against the Calgary Flames in the first round as it just feels like a more favorable matchup. Either way without Saros it was going to be a tall order.
However, against the speed demon Colorado Avalanche my confidence is rock bottom that the Nashville Predators can even push this to six games. It’s going to take much more defensive discipline, and near perfect special teams play.
David Rittich probably gets the Game 1 start as Ingram just didn’t look comfortable at all against the Coyotes. Rittich has shown in limited action that he can rally and pile up the saves. He’ll have to do that all series to give the Predators any shred of hope.