Three Keys for Nashville Predators in Must Win Game 4 Vs Vancouver Canucks

Apr 26, 2024; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Nashville Predators left wing Filip Forsberg (9) passes the
Apr 26, 2024; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Nashville Predators left wing Filip Forsberg (9) passes the / Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

The Nashville Predators came into Friday Night's Game 3 against the Vancouver Canucks right where they wanted to be, playing in the first of two home games with the series tied 1-1. Unfortunately, they failed to take advantage, losing the game 2-1 and putting themselves in a must win situation down 2-1 in the series heading into Game 4.

Although the Predators lost in Game 3, they were not pushed around and stifled like they were in the previous two games. They upped their forecheck and actually had some legitimate offensive zone time, and allowed next to nothing defensively at 5-on-5.

The Predators easily could have won Game 3, but an inability to score and a few key errors cost them a victory on Friday Night. Their backs are to the walls now, and they will have to execute in three key areas if they are to send us back to Vancouver with the series tied at 2.

#1: Pressure, Pressure and More Pressure

Despite the result the other night, the Predators deserve credit for significantly upping the overall pressure from what it had been in the opening two games. They got the puck down low in the offensive zone multiple times as a result of hard forechecking, were able to sustain offensive zone time because of it, and outhit the Canucks, which had become a concern.

The Predators did a much better job of taking the game to the Canucks, but still could have done better. For much of the game, they were being too fancy when trying to set up chances, and it did not allow them to truly test Casey DeSmith often enough.

The Predators started to consistently get more shots on him from late in the second period until the end, but were forced into taking low quality shots many times. It of course was not for a lack of effort, but the Canucks were making it near impossible to get point-blank looks, so goals were going to be hard to come by no matter what.

Clean scoring chances are going to continue to be extremely hard to get, so the Predators should stop trying to make them happen. They need to carry over what they did in the third period in Game 3 and fire absolutely every shot possible while getting bodies to the net front as well as other tough areas of the ice.

If they do what they did in that final 20 minutes in all of Game 4, they have a much better chance of getting results and sustaining momentum. They will get nowhere by being picky and trying to avoid the rough areas of the ice, there is nothing else than that in this series.

The Predators also have to remember that they are playing a backup goaltender, and give him credit for making 29 out of 30 saves in a win the other night, but he will not shut you out forever. It is not ideal to settle for lower shot quality, and although you have to in situations like these, you are almost sure to be rewarded for a high volume of shots, so there is no reason not to take them at every possible chance.

#2: Special Teams Must Improve

This is nowhere near the first time that special teams have been brought up as an area plaguing the Predators, as the powerplay looked shaky even during the 18-game point streak. They are once again a problem during the playoffs, and it was on full display in Game 3.

The penalty kill, which had done well in the first 2 games of the series, allowed the only two goals of the game, which came on just three tries. The first one was after a blatant goaltender interference penalty on Michael McCarron, which was frustrating and sapped the momentum the Predators had built up in the first period.

The penalty killers may have just been bound to get scored on after several successful kills in Games 1 and 2, especially against the top end talent on the Canucks. At least they have been able to hold up for much of the series, but the powerplay has not in the slightest and stayed that way in Game 3.

They could hardly enter the zone to get set up, let alone score goals, going a whopping 0/5 on the man advantage. Some of that even included time on the 5-on-3, yet the Predators still could not put the puck in the back of the net.


As is the case at 5-on-5, the Canucks are not making it easy for the Predators to get to open areas of the ice even on the man advantage. A lot of that is seen on the zone entries, when they try to use crafty passes to facilitate offensive zone possessions and scoring chances, but the Canucks are making it difficult for them to do that, and so have many other teams quite frankly.

That is not to say that the Predators should completely abandon that approach, but maybe incorporate a little more dumping and chasing the puck being the goal and to the corners. They cannot rely on getting clean looks and showed that they can hang with the Canucks into forechecking, so they could benefit from setting up puck battles to then set up zone time on the powerplay.

It is a redundant theme anymore, but if the Predators are even slightly better on special teams on Friday, they very likely get the win. They should have scored on the 5-on-3 and were forced into almost zero real defensive zone sequences besides the penalty kills, so they desperately need a response from their special teams.

#3: Take Advantage and Be Vigilant

We are far enough into this series to know that goals will come at an extreme premium for both sides. It is too physical and too crowded everywhere for either team to be able to set up frequent scoring chances, and they are truly playing the epitome of a game of inches.

In matchups like these, one goal really might be all that is needed to win a game, making it that much more important to stay disciplined and help yourself. The Predators have to take advantage of any and all opportunities they have in the offensive zone, while making sure they avoid turnovers and careless errors that can result in goals against.

Balancing out both approaches is admittedly difficult, as if you are going to sell out to create maximum offense, you could leave yourself prone to transition opportunities the other way. You still have to be careful no matter how tough a task it is, but one way to reduce the difficulty is to do what the Predators did not do enough of on Friday, just shooting the puck.

When you try to do what they did early in the game, such as attempting flashy and far-fetched passes and holding the puck looking for someone to be open, you make yourself prone to colossal errors like turnovers and subsequent breakaways in the other direction.

Putting the puck on goal at least forces the goaltender and opposing defense to react and creates rebounds and opportunities for ugly goals, which is how you win series like this one. If the Predators do that, they are going to give themselves an opportunity to score, while also ensuring fewer turnovers and chances against.

Next. Preds. Predators Take Massive Step Forward Despite GM3 Loss. dark

Helping yourself in every way also includes limiting penalties, which will happen from time to time in such a physical game. But the main objective is to avoid blatant and unnecessary penalties like McCarron's hit on DeSmith, even if the refs may call the game poorly you still have to control what you can control.

It is the playoffs and the Canucks will have at least some opportunities, but the Predators have to stay composed on defense and laser focused on offense. It will be no easy task, but if they are indeed relentless like they say, they will get the job done here.