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Late Offensive Push Not Enough for Predators to Overcome Avalanche’s Speed

Colorado came out with a vengeance, and Nashville’s push back was too little too late and Game 3 went to Colorado.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Nashville Predators at Colorado Avalanche Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Going into Monday night’s match-up it seemed like Colorado really was going to be their own worst enemy this series. The Nashville Predators had played some mediocre hockey at times and somehow still managed to score 10 goals in two games. It wasn’t looking good for the Avs.

Then Game 3 started and Colorado was exactly what we were afraid they would be: a desperate 8th seed hockey team trying to stay alive. It was do or die from the moment the game started for the Avs. If they fell to the Preds in Game 3, all signs pointed to them being swept.

The tables turned and suddenly Nashville became their own worst enemy and things got ugly fast. Unlike their previous showings, an early lead was exactly what the Avs needed to secure a win.

Here’s what happened last night.

Desperate Speed

We knew exactly what the Avalanche had at their advantage going into this series. They had a deadly power play, and unbelievable speed.

We saw glimpses of their speed in the first two games, but Monday night they showed the Preds no mercy, and scored three quick goals in the first period that would chase Pekka Rinne, and ultimately seal Nashville’s fate by the end of the night.

Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis might as well have been in the stands spectating as Carl Soderberg and Matt Nieto skated around them with ease. They never saw Blake Comeau. Filip Forsberg was there, but there was nothing he could do, leaving Rinne out to dry.

Less than two minutes into the game and it already felt like we’d been here before, twice!

It only got worse from there.

You know what you don’t want in a playoff series? Former teammates scoring goals on your goaltender because you can’t defend him.

I’m not saying I wish anything bad on any former Nashville Predators, but how is the best blue-line in the league going to let guys like Gabriel Bourque score on Rinne like that...while Colin Wilson is on the ice!

Not once, but twice! Two games in a row Bourque has scored in the first period. A guy we didn’t offer-sheet, and a guy we basically gave away are running amuck on your goaltender who should win the Vezina this year. For crying out loud, defend the guy!

I said after Game 2 that the Preds needed their defense to score, so far, none of our defensemen have goals in the playoffs. This is weird for Nashville. Our defense is almost non-existent this series, and that’s scary.

Josi and Ellis are captaining this team - they need to rally the defense more than ever in Game 4. If they can get themselves, along with P.K. Subban and Mattias Ekholm going, the Preds get that much more dangerous.

Penalties Galore!

Remember when we used to say all we wanted from the Preds was consistency?

Yeah...we didn’t mean consistently taking bad penalties and taking up residency in the sin-bin for 20 minutes a night.

As soon as the Preds killed one penalty, it felt like they were taking another one. Again, when we said the Avs had the best power play in the league and the Preds needed to stay out of the penalty wasn’t a suggestion!

Nashville is already closing in on 40 penalty minutes in three games, that’s not what you want to see. Nashville’s played some of their best hockey at even strength and the only way to continue to play that hockey is to stay out of the box.

Not approved P.K.

Seriously, don’t do this.

It wasn’t just Nashville though, Colorado took penalties of their own, and gave the Preds the opportunity they needed to get back in the game with a 5v3 power play at the end of the second.

No matter how poorly a game is going, when you give the Preds a two-man advantage with Forsberg, Ryan Johansen, Josi, and Ellis on the ice, just hold your breathe and close your eyes till it’s over.

Convert on your power play opportunities, and stay out of the box. Simple. Done.

Full Sixty

It wasn’t all bad, but the first 40 minutes definitely cost the Preds Game 3. That’s a lot of hockey to not show up for.

Nashville has to start finding their groove early. They can’t find themselves down three at the end of a period and expect a miracle to bail them out every single time. Eventually they’re going to have to play a full sixty minutes.

The third period saw a lot of pressure on Colorado. Nashville was pushing and Colorado couldn’t answer, which resulted in Colton Sissons putting home a beauty of a pass from Josi to cut the Avs’ lead in half.

Textbook pretty.

It seemed like things were looking up and then Nashville pulled Juuse Saros for the man advantage. In an attempt to prevent an empty-net goal, Kevin Fiala takes out Gabriel Landeskog, and the Avs are automatically awarded the empty-net goal. Sigh.

Austin Watson, being the hero we don’t deserve this post-season, managed to net one more for the Preds’ dignity before time finally ran out on this soul sucker of a game.

Final Thoughts

This was ugly. Have we seen uglier? Yes. Will we see worse? God, let’s hope not.

The Preds have a lot of strengths but they still have a few glaring weaknesses that need to be addressed if they want to survive this series and another round.

We all love Mike Fisher, he’s been a key face of the franchise over the years, and we all love seeing Carrie Underwood in the crowd at the Bridge, but Fisher isn’t helping this team right now. Post-retirement Fisher doesn’t have the speed to keep up with Colorado, and whatever magic he and Miikka Salomaki once had is gone. It’s dead. Stop trying to revive it.

I’m willing to give Salomaki the benefit of the doubt. He has some speed and Fisher might be slowing him down and throwing off his game. I’d give him one more game with some different line-mates to make something happen before throwing him into playoff scratch oblivion for the remainder of the post-season.

If Nashville comes out and plays a full game of hockey we know they’re capable of, they’ll take Game 4, and close the series at Bridgestone in Game 5 on Friday. This time you can @ me.