Nashville Predators 1, Colorado Avalanche 2 (1OT): Ingram’s stellar effort wasted

The Preds were outmatched, and fall to 0-2 in the series.

The Nashville Predators took the ice tonight for Game 2 in the Ball Arena, hoping—needing—to beat the Colorado Avalanche and go home with a split series, as well as proving to themselves and everyone else that they could hang with the Avalanche.

Although they got out to a better start than they did Tuesday, an unfortunate read by Jeremy Lauzon a little over five minutes in let the Avalanche separate him from the puck. Nathan MacKinnon, streaking up the ice, got the puck past Ingram to give the Avalanche a 1-0 lead.

That goal aside, Connor Ingram was looking more comfortable early on than David Rittich had, and the Preds’ skaters were noticeably less uncoordinated in front of him. The offense and defense weren’t looking particularly overwhelming, but a lot of the panicked discombobulation that marked Game 1 and kept the Preds from getting a handle on the first period was absent.

As the period progressed, the Preds gained an edge in shot share, pushing back in an attempt to tie the game again. Filip Forsberg drew a penalty when MacKinnon shoved his helmet off his head, but the Avs counterattacked early and pressured the Preds’ power play into an icing, which killed off an additional chunk of time. Even after the Preds made it back to the offensive zone, Cale Makar stole the puck and got another great shorthanded breakaway, forcing Ingram to make another big save.

Ingram had to make yet another massive save once the teams returned to even strength, on a two-on-one play that felt for sure it was going in, but he did make that save. Moments later, that let Yakov Trenin tie the game 1-1 off a great pass from Roman Josi.

With 3:12 remaining in the first period, Bowen Byram was called for hooking Tanner Jeannot as they both chased the puck, sending the Preds back to the power play. The arena reacted poorly, but probably shouldn’t have bothered, as Makar headed for the Preds’ net shorthanded again. His attempt was interrupted by a teammate going offside, and the Preds got a break. Although they did manage to get into the offensive zone and get set up this time, the Avs once again broke out and attacked shorthanded.

In the dying seconds of the period, the Avalanche absolutely barraged Ingram with shots, but some heroic shot blocks and timely saves kept the score tied 1-1 heading into intermission.

The Avalanche came out to start the second period right where they’d left off the first. Ingram got knocked off his feet early and the Avs kept shooting, until an Alexandre Carrier hooking penalty got a whistle and sent the Preds to the penalty kill—but also let Ingram stand up again. The Preds were able to kill the penalty off and returned to even strength, then managed to get the clear.

Still, momentum had more than tilted to the Avalanche again, and when Filip Forsberg tripped Mikko Rantanen that just increased the tilt. The Avs’ power play threatened early and often, but Ingram made some great saves and Mikael Granlund managed to set Trenin up for a shorthanded chance, though MacKinnon defended him effectively and Darcy Kuemper was able to make the save.

Around halfway through the period, Dante Fabbro took one shove too many at MacKinnon, who spun around after the collision and landed facedown on the ice. The referees rightly called it, but the Preds were once again able to bring a strong penalty kill and keep the score tied. Although the Avs continued to threaten, the Preds’ top line got one great chance that they weren’t able to put in.

The hits intensified as the period wound on, with both teams checking heavily and Ingram being called on to make several more big saves. Trenin had another chance, but missed, and with under a minute left in the period the Avalanche iced the puck. They recovered strongly, though, going back on the attack.

With 4.8 seconds remaining, the Avalanche seemed to score a goal, but one of the referees immediately objected due to some initial contact from Artturi Lehkonen, even before Lehkonen ended up sitting on Ingram while the puck crossed the line and entered the net. The goal was waved off on the ice, but Jared Bednar challenged the goalie interference; a review upheld the call and gave the Avs a bench minor for the incorrect challenge.

The Preds would have all of intermission to plan for the remaining 1:55 of their power play, and maybe address the way the Avalanche’s aggressive penalty kill had been thwarting them all series. We were also waiting for an update on Jeremy Lauzon, who left after what looked like an injury to his mouth with around three minutes left in the second.

Lauzon was back to start the third, and Valeri Nichuskin high-sticked Ryan Johansen at the opening faceoff, giving the Preds almost two full minutes of 5v3. The Avalanche’s penalty kill remained strong, however. Filip Forsberg rang iron, and the Avs counterattacked, with Ingram making another fantastic save on Makar. Although the Preds got back into the offensive zone, they were unable to score.

The Avalanche returned to full strength and immediately counterattacked. There was a brief lull as the Preds got out of their own end, but they were hemmed right back in, with Ingram making another critical save on Gabriel Landeskog, then, moments later, an absolutely spectacular one on Byram in on a two-on-one.

With seven minutes left in the third period, Luke Kunin took a cross-checking penalty during a scuffle in front of the Preds’ goal. While the Preds got some shorthanded possession early, the Avalanche almost immediately returned and got set up, hemming the Preds’ penalty killers in for an agonizingly long shift. Colton Sissons got a change early, but by the time Granlund, who replaced him, was able to get off the ice it had been over two minutes for him, let alone the rest of the penalty killers.

The Preds did kill the penalty and eventually went on the attack. Duchene had a chance, and Kuemper—still playing in the game—made a save on a nice Forsberg shot with under 2:30 remaining. It was the best the Preds had looked all series. That push was thwarted when Josi gave the puck away to Rantanen, but the Preds bounced back out of their zone quickly.

Kunin tried a wraparound, which Kuemper was able to save, with Granlund wide open in front of the net; the Avs got one more flurry of their own; and the teams headed to overtime.

The Preds started overtime minus Mark Borowiecki but with a little more energy—at least, before ending up back in their own zone again. Roman Josi saved a goal from JT Compher, then blocked another shot; the Preds got very lucky with some deflections on the following shift. Just after that, though, Kuemper did have to make a big save on Granlund.

After that, though, it was the Avalanche show yet again. Kuemper set Valeri Nichushkin up for a breakaway, but Nichushkin mishandled the pass, which set the Avs back barely at all. Tanner Jeannot managed to get in deep, briefly, before the Preds were once again pushed back out of the offensive zone. A little later, Forsberg and Duchene located the offensive zone as well, but again no dice.

Close to halfway through the OT period, and with Josi still down on the ice from blocking the initial shot, Makar finally managed to get a shot (his 11th on goal, and 22nd overall, of the night) past Ingram.

Ingram made 48 saves overall in the loss.