By Alex Daugherty -May 28, 2021
The Nashville Predators’ season ended last night when Sebastian Aho of the Carolina Hurricanes tipped home the game winning goal in overtime, clinching the series for the Canes with a 4-3 win in Nashville.
A series that many expected the Canes to win followed the script, though not many expected it to go six games and none expected it to require four overtime games.
But the Preds, yet again, have only themselves to blame for this series loss, and especially for the Game 6 loss.
Bridgestone Arena erupted after Ryan Johansen tipped in the Predators’ third goal of the game on the power play. The Predators led 3-1 going into the third period and were only 20 minutes away from forcing a Game 7 in Nashville.
And they squandered the opportunity.
Carolina went all out in the second half, peppering the Nashville zone with passes and shots and eventually tied the game with 6:01 remaining. With around 15 minutes left in the game, the Predators lost Roman Josi to an injury, which threw their defensive system into disarray.
Despite this, one tiny error by the Predators contributed more to the loss than any other.
On the game-tying goal, the Predators misplaced their assignment.
The Preds’ 4th line committed two icings in a row with the Preds up 3-2 and the Hurricanes buzzing, leaving some tired legs out on the ice. Ryan Ellis did the first icing, while Yakov Trenin did the second.
The icings, however, were not the mistake that led to the game-tying goal, but they may have played a role. The blunder occurred at the faceoff.
The faceoff is won by the Hurricanes, and the puck is immediately passed to Jaccob Slavin, who finds Dougie Hamilton wide open on Juuse Saros’ back door.
When you watch the play again, you’ll notice Ryan Ellis following his man Teuvo Teravainen out to the blueline. Yakov Trenin, on the other hand, does not pursue his man, Hamilton, down to the slot.
Yakov Trenin’s misread resulted in a wide open play and the game-tying goal.
From the end zone camera, here’s another look at the goal. Instead of defending his man Dougie Hamilton at the point, Yakov Trenin leaves his left wing position to follow Teravainen.
Trenin has been a wonderful tale for the Predators this season, and you have to feel bad for him. He’s been an integral part of Nashville’s burgeoning fourth line and has only contributed positively to the team’s success thus far.
But that’s a critical error at a critical stage in the game that can’t be made.
After the game, John Hynes observed, “It was just a mis-read.” “Unfortunately, it ended up in the net’s back corner. But those are some of the finer points, the things to be cautious of, especially if you’re caught on an icing and different guys are thrown out. Because of the icing, you’re in a different matchup; that’s when your attention to detail and focus come in handy.
I am confident that Yakov Trenin will recover from his blunder. He’ll continue to be an important part of the Predators’ lineup in the future. One playoff blunder, no matter how significant, will not change that.
In the end, the Hurricanes were the superior team. They were faster and had more talent than the Predators. They won battles when it counted most, and will now meet the defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning in the playoffs.
There will be plenty of time to discuss the Nashville Predators’ next moves. This season was a rollercoaster that none of us could have imagined in retrospect. Incredibly low lows and extremely high highs have been recorded. I don’t believe it’s unreasonable to anticipate a similar atmosphere in the offseason.
— Featured picture courtesy of USA TODAY Sports/Christopher Hanewinckel —