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Preds Have to Stop Trying to Play the Role of ‘Comeback Kids’

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The first period has not been kind to Nashville in 2016

NHL: Minnesota Wild at Nashville Predators Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

It is no secret that the Nashville Predators have made a habit of getting off to notoriously slow starts this season.

Thursday’s 5-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild really drove home the point that this team is not built to play from behind. The problem for them seems to be the first period. In the last four games, the Preds have found themselves trailing 2-1, 2-1, 2-0, and 3-1 at the first intermission.

“It’s a tough way to play the game,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “You’re fortunate when you bail out of it at 3-0, 3-1 this time, against one of the teams that gives up the least amount of goals. Its not going to be an easy task. We couldn’t pull it off.

“We’ll go back and look at this. We probably played 50 to 55 minutes that we really liked. They probably had 10 chances – they got four in the last two minutes of the first period and three in the last two minutes of the second period. Not a lot more than that, but those did us in. That time we didn’t execute – it did us in.”

Added captain Mike Fisher: “It was more of us defensively. We were giving too many good scoring chances. We get our fair share of chances, but we have to be better defensively.”

Nashville is 5-12-1 when their opponents score first (.278-win percent). They have only scored first in 11 of their 29 games this season.

The Preds have trailed in 11 games after the first period— posting a 3-8 record in those games (for a .278 win percentage). They have only led after the first period themselves in eight games this season- winning six.

“Its just work ethic,” defenseman Ryan Ellis said. “The last couple of games we just take off and find ourselves down every time, then decide we better circle in. It has to be a complete effort. We have to tighten that first period up especially.”

The Predators have given up the first goal of the game in 18 contests, 14 of which have come in the first period. They have surrendered the first goal eight times within the first five minutes, and have given up multiple first period goals in seven games, including four straight.

The Predators average 7:52 into a period before allowing the first goal of the game.

“It’s frustrating right now,” Laviolette said. “Its hard to sit here and tell you its all good.”