The Nashville Predators had never gone down 0-3 in a playoff series before Saturday night, and tonight they’ll look to avoid getting swept by the Colorado Avalanche. In a season with a lot of franchise firsts (40-goal scorers) and records set (Roman Josi overtaking Paul Kariya’s points in a single season mark), this is one they don’t want.
As I said in the preview for Saturday’s game, we would have been talking very differently about most of the penalties in Game 2 if they hadn’t been able to kill them off, and as Saturday’s game proved, they need to stop taking those. They looked better at the start of Game 3, before the penalties and the first goal against, but better isn’t good enough.
There have been four reverse sweeps in NHL history: the Toronto Maple Leafs over the Detroit Red Wings in the 1942 Stanley Cup Final; the New York Islanders over the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 1975 quarterfinals (the Islanders lost in the semifinals to the eventual Cup champs); the Philadelphia Flyers over the Boston Bruins in the 2010 Eastern Conference Semifinal (the Flyers lost in the SCF to the Chicago Blackhawks; the Bruins won it all the next year); and the Los Angeles Kings over the San Jose Sharks in the 2014 first round (the Kings went on to win the Cup again).
The Preds would be joining a small, select group if they could pull off the series comeback. Unfortunately, there’s little reason to believe they will.
Darcy Kuemper was not at morning skate today after receiving a stick to the eye area in Saturday’s game. It’s unfortunate news for him, and I hope he recovers quickly. Assuming he isn’t able to play tonight, or is being held out for precautionary reasons, that still makes very little difference to the Predators’ chances. Pavel Francouz has been an above-average goalie this year, and is playing behind an elite team.
I do still believe that the Preds are capable of winning a game in this series, and tonight is going to be their last chance. They will need to play with discipline—no penalties, or only penalties that probably saved a goal anyway—and without panic. Players like Filip Forsberg and Ryan Johansen, who’ve been held almost completely off the scoresheet, will need to contribute; they’ll need depth scoring as well.
They will also need puck luck, as well as a better performance from Connor Ingram, who will be starting again. The Avalanche have shown they can win a game 8-7 or 1-0; there isn’t a broad style the Preds can force the game into that this opponent can’t play well. They have to win the specific game in front of them, by executing carefully and to the best of their ability.
How to Watch
The game airs at 8:30 Central on Bally Sports South, ESPN, and Sportsnet, as well as on 102.5 The Game.