The Predators played relatively well last game - they had eleven high danger chances to Colorado’s seven, held a higher fenwick-for percentage at 58.33%, and in general looked the better team. Nonetheless, as has been the Predators’ curse the past few seasons, the Colorado Avalanche called in their third-string goalie to play the Predators. As always seems to be the case, the backup, Andrew Hammond, stood on his head and kept the Predators from scoring more than once.
In the last five minutes, Ryan Ellis fell onto Pekka Rinne while Nathan MacKinnon did Nathan MacKinnon things to tie the game. Then, as P.K. Subban took the puck into the offensive zone, every forward on the ice, specifically Colton Sissons and Mike Fisher, forgot their responsibilities to drop back and cover the point for Subban. Sissons should have probably changed already as, once the Avalanche took the puck back, he looked completely gassed. The Avalanche found a 2-on-1 that Pekka Rinne had no chance on, making it 2-1 with under two minutes to play. The Predators then pulled Rinne for the extra man, but were weighed, measured, and found wanting.
The Colorado Avalanche
All credit is due to the Colorado Avalanche. Most of the hockey world brushed off the Avalanche and their chances at taking down Nashville, yet they have pushed the Predators to their limits. From Nathan MacKinnon looking like every ounce of the MVP candidate he is, to contributions from their fourth line, to Sven Andrighetto being a pest and getting under the Predators’ skin, the Avalanche have been formidable.
The biggest story for them has been their goaltending. Jonathan Bernier played well for a backup through the first four games. After Bernier suffered an injury, Andrew Hammond has come in and played solid, with his game five performance keeping Colorado alive. Solving their unsung heroes in net is going to be what Nashville has to do today.
The Nashville Predators
While a number of pundits saw game five as doom and gloom, it was probably the second best performance by the Predators this series. Unfortunately, part of the beauty of hockey is how a game can change from just one or two bad plays, and the Predators fell victim to this on Friday night. Statistically, the Predators had their way with the desperate Avalanche. Even in the third period, the Predators dominated in advanced statistical categories and drove possession, they just could not get the puck into the net.
Teams that are pushed to the brink are always the hardest to eliminate. The Avalanche, with their backs against the wall and down a goal on Friday, refused to die and found enough chances to stay alive. Head coach Peter Laviolette has said multiple times how desperation is more important than momentum. The Avalanche have both tonight, so the Predators better be ready to go tonight.
Reasons to Watch
- “I swear I don’t love the drama, it loves me” - nobody in Nashville wanted the Predators to have to play in Colorado again for more first-round playoff hockey, but alas here we are. The best we can do is to try and enjoy it.
- “I hit you like BANG, we tried to forget it, but we just couldn’t” - Ryan Hartman, suspended for a pretty bad and blatantly illegal hit to the head of Carl Soderberg. While the Avalanche may not forget that hit and extract other kinds of revenge on Hartman, expect Hartman to try and get some licks in on Sven Andrighetto for trying use his stick to surgically remove Hartman’s man-parts.
- “It’s like your eyes are liquor, it’s like your body is gold” - It’s a playoff hockey game for the boys in gold. ‘Nuff said.
Sights and Sounds
The game will be broadcast on NBC Sports, FS-TN, and Sportsnet for those without FS-TN and who don’t want to listen to Mike Milbury rants. 102.5 The Game will have the Preds on the radio. The puck drops at 6:00ct.