Peter Laviolette was not going to watch his team get off to another slow start Wednesday night at the Pepsi center.
The Nashville Predators scored first and never looked back, building a 3-0 lead that would end up being just enough as they hung on to win 3-2. They are flying back to Nashville with a commanding 3-1 lead over the Colorado Avalanche and the opportunity to end the series Friday night.
Out of the gate, the Predators had a much better pace to their game than the previous three, finally looking like they acknowledged that the St. Louis Blues were not their opponent, but a speedy Colorado team. However, when the Predators got an early 5v3, they completely squandered it. Their strategy of firing one timers with no real inspired play may satisfy the random guy five beers in yelling “SHOOT”, but there’s a reason why that guy isn’t a hockey coach: probably not knowing hockey. With a two man advantage, that kind of strategy is just inexcusable. Play the puck low, look backdoor. If you don’t see anything, don’t force it.
Thankfully, the Predators were playing much better 5v5 hockey, perhaps due to the return of Calle Jarnkrok to the lineup. Playing for the first time since an upper body injury suffered by a late boarding hit by the Jets’ Andrew Copp in March, Jarnkrok helped the Predators keep their bottom lines much more balanced.
Before the end of the first, Filip Forsberg decided to make another rookie defenseman look silly, scoring a wundergoal against Jonathan Bernier to put the Predators up 1-0. Words cannot do this goal justice, so here it is:
Taking a 1-0 lead into the second period, the lack of discipline struck the Predators once again. Matt Irwin and Colton Sissons take penalties in consecutive shifts. However, when Sissons jumped out of the box, he joined the rush and got a smooth cross-ice feed from Filip Forsberg. Shooting against the grain, Sissions scored to make it 2-0 for the Predators. Sissons had a great presence of mind to shoot where Bernier was coming from rather than the short post. Craig Smith scored shortly after to make it 3-0 for the Predators.
However, the period became a little chippier, as Sven Andrighetto speared Ryan Hartman numerous times in the crotch. Ryan (rightfully) loses his mind at the no call and mauls Andrighetto, putting the Predators back on the penalty kill. Ryan Johansen falls before getting hit by Gabriel Landeskog in the head and left the game, but thankfully Johansen returned halfway through the third period.
Nashville’s Ryan Hartman will have a hearing today for an illegal check to the head on Colorado’s Carl Soderberg.— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) April 19, 2018
The Predators began the third period in the worst way they could, as both Ryan Hartman and Colton Sissons took penalties on the same shift. Hartman’s hit was a bit high, and he has an in-person hearing with the Department of Player Safety today for it. Eventually, the Avalanche score to make it 3-1 and then shortly thereafter tally again to make it 3-2. Johansen returned right after the second goal and the Predators hung on to win.