The Nashville Predators came frighteningly close to pulling off a “Mule Day” miracle on Saturday night at Bridgestone Arena.
After falling down 4-0 to the Chicago Blackhawks, the Predators rallied to tie the game at 4. However, a Brent Seabrook goal at 8:19 of the third period put the Blackhawks back ahead for good. The Blackhawks survived the rare four-goal comeback to win 5-4.
“We showed our resilience and the guys went to bat for each other,” Nashville defenseman Kevin Klein said. “I think we did a great job in the second and third trying to weather that four-goal storm. We made a great push, but obviously we came up short.”
The first two Chicago goals came on the power play. Patrick Sharp scored the game’s opening goal at 3:25 of the first period on a power play resulting from a Matt Halischuk high-stick. The second Chicago goal came at 1:05 of the second period, as Dave Bolland ripped a shot past Predators netminder Pekka Rinne. The Predators were shorthanded on that goal due to a late first period hooking penalty by David Legwand.
“We can’t take too many penalties against these guys and we did it in the first,” Klein said. “We took three penalties in the first and they capitalized on them. You can’t give that many skilled players that many power plays.”
The Predators had played the night before in Detroit, dominating an important game in the team’s battle for home-ice advantage in the playoffs. After the big win over Detroit the night before, some may have expected the team to maybe be a little drained and a little less “detailed”, as Predators head coach Barry Trotz would say. However, Klein contended that exhaustion was not an excuse for the early deficit.
“It’s easy to get up for these kinds of games,” Klein said. “We had a lot of rest. Most of the guys didn’t skate this morning. We got in at a decent time. We can’t use that as an excuse. A lot of times we play better back-to-back. It just depends.”
To Klein, the game hinged on the time the Predators spent on the penalty kill. Klein – along with Hal Gill – led all players with 6:23 of shorthanded ice time.
“A lot of our top guys play on the penalty kill and it leads to them getting tired,” Klein said. “It also leads to guys sitting on the bench for long periods of time. You like to get into a rhythm, have limited special teams against you. We didn’t do that tonight.”
In the end, Klein, while displeased with the team’s mistakes early, was pleased with the tenacity his teammates showed.
“We did a good job to battle back,” Klein said. “We just have to eliminate that fifth goal.”