In what was termed pretty much a "do or die" game this evening on home ice, the Nashville Predators couldn't muster a winning effort against a Vancouver team that pretty much dictated the play from start to finish. This 4-2 loss puts the Preds on the brink of elimination heading into Saturday night's Game 5 at Rogers Centre.
Follow after the jump for video & reaction to tonight's game...
First off, the video highlights (might have to wait until 10:45 Central or so for them to play):
- After all the speculation, Trotz did indeed shuffle up the lines, putting Erat alongside Fisher & Kostitsyn, and moving Hornqvist down with Geoffrion and Wilson.
- Both teams came out with loads of energy, setting a frenetic pace despite not putting many shots on the board. Klein took an early cross-checking call which led to a gritty effort on the PK, with Nick Spaling in particular blocking a shot which surely would have gone in.
- Klein's penalty was somewhat forgivable (he was taking out a guy in front of the net as the puck was coming through), but the worse play came about midway through the first, when Martin Erat beat Dan Hamhuis down the ice, but pulled up to avoid a hit rather than play the puck, which resulted in an icing call. During the playoffs, you like to see more commitment there.
- For all that early energy, however, it was the Canucks who started carrying the play piling up an 11-4 shots advantage late in the first and getting the Ehrhoff goal to take the lead.
- The tying goal on the Preds' first power play was nice to see, after the first unit (with Kostitsyn, Fisher and Hornqvist up front) failed to generate any pressure. Franson took a shot from the point, Ward tipped it on the way in, and slammed home the rebound.
- Despite a few furious scrums down low, the Preds still couldn't create scoring opportunities. By the time Edler made it 2-1 midway through the second, the Preds were being outshot 19-7. Their best opportunity came during 47 seconds of 5-on-3 advantage, but they only got one lousy shot there, followed by an ineffective finish to the rest of the PP. Even Canadian media observers credited the crowd on its hockey savvy when they started letting the boos fly.
- Nashville got the break they were looking for with that goal by Cody Franson early in the 3rd. It looked like Halischuk blocked Luongo's view of it, and it took a moment for the ref to even confirm that yes, the puck was in the back of the net underneath the padding.
- I said on Twitter that the Preds needed to come out with murderous intent in the 3rd, and sure enough, Ryan Suter almost decapitated Ryan Kesler to give Vancouver another power play, on which Kesler put the Canucks ahead with a doozy of a goal.
- Pekka Rinne wasn't the problem tonight for the Preds, but he wasn't quite as sharp as in the earlier part of this series.
- The crowd did their level best to pick the team up, bringing forth one more rousing Standing O when the Preds needed a late goal in the 3rd, but the Vancouver blueline continued to foil attempts to chip the puck in deep and establish a forecheck. Dan Hamhuis, in particular, kept turning the play around quickly.
- Your Corsi numbers are available at Time On Ice, and you'll be surprised a bit at the big standout - Blake Geoffrion was pretty effective even with just 7:59 of ice time.
- I never did catch a look at what happened to Smithson. Word filtered back via Twitter that he suffered a broken nose at the end of the first, but that's unconfirmed.
- Might this have been the last home game of the season? I sure hope not, but the Predators have a real uphill battle ahead of them, and changes need to be made if different outcomes are to be expected. Feel free to sound off below with your suggestions...
- Post-game comments are available from Barry Trotz, Pekka Rinne, Joel Ward, Patric Hornqvist, Shea Weber, and Ryan Suter.