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.
When Ryan Johansen tipped home the Preds’ third goal of the game on the power play, Bridgestone Arena was rocking. The Preds took a 3-1 lead into the 3rd period and had themselves only 20 minutes away from forcing a Game 7.
And they blew it.
Carolina turned on the after burners, peppering the Nashville zone with passes and shots, eventually tying the game with 6:01 left. The Preds also lost Roman Josi to an injury with around 15 minutes left in the game, which threw their defensive structure into chaos.
But even with all that, one small mistake by the Preds contributed to the loss more than any others.
Preds lost assignment on game tying goal
With the Preds nursing a 3-2 lead and the Hurricanes buzzing, the Preds’ 4th line committed two icings in a row, leaving some tired legs out on the ice. The first icing was by Ryan Ellis, the next icing was by Yakov Trenin.
But the icings aren’t the mistake that led to the game tying goal, though they may have contributed somewhat. The mistake happened on the faceoff.
The Hurricanes won the faceoff and the puck immediately comes to Jaccob Slavin, who finds Dougie Hamilton wide open on the back door of Juuse Saros.
Watching the play again, you can see Ryan Ellis follow his man Teuvo Teravainen, who peels out to the blueline. But Yakov Trenin doesn’t follow his man, Hamilton, coming down to the slot.
It was a misread by Yakov Trenin that led to a wide open play and the game tying goal.
Here’s another look at the goal from the end zone camera. Watch Yakov Trenin leave his left wing position to follow Teravainen instead of covering his man Dougie Hamilton at the point.
You have to feel for Trenin, who has been a remarkable story for the Preds this year. He’s been an electric part of the emergent 4th line for Nashville and, up until this point, only contributed positively to the run this team has made.
But that’s a crucial mistake at a key point in the game that just can’t be made.
“It was just a mis-read,” John Hynes said after the game. “And unfortunately it wound up in the back of the net. But those are some of the detail things, the awareness things, particularly if you get caught out on an icing and they throw out different players. You’re in a different matchup because of the icing, that’s where that attention to detail and focus is really important, particularly in these types of games.”
John Hynes on the game tying goal. Sounds like Yakov Trenin made a misread. He also iced the puck to get the DZ faceoff.
Gotta feel for Yak here. pic.twitter.com/a2US4H6LD6
— Alex Daugherty (@AlexDaugherty1) May 28, 2021
I have no doubt that Yakov Trenin will bounce back from that mistake. He will continue to be a contributing piece of this Preds team moving forward. One mistake in the playoffs, however big it was, won’t change that.
Ultimately, the Hurricanes were a better team. They had more talent and more speed than the Preds. They won battles when they mattered most and will now move on in the playoffs to face the defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning.
There will be plenty of time to discuss the next moves for the Nashville Predators. In retrospect, this season was a rollercoaster that none of us could have predicted. Extremely low lows and extremely high highs. I don’t think it’s crazy to expect the offseason to have a similar feel.
— Featured image via Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports —