Predators' playoff road ends at home — yet again

Tuesday, May 10, 2011 at 12:21am

If the Nashville Predators really want to reward the fans for their loyalty and passion, here’s something to try: Don’t get eliminated on home ice.

A sellout crowd of 17,113 at Bridgestone Arena on Monday was witness to the end of the longest playoff run in franchise history. The Predators failed to overcome an early two-goal deficit and fell 2-1 to the Vancouver Canucks in Game 6 of their Western Conference final series. The Canucks won the series 4-2, and three of their victories came in Nashville’s building.

So while this Predators’ postseason experience was unique in so many ways, the setting for the finish was all too familiar.

“We’re still not satisfied,” captain Shea Weber said. “The group in here wants to win the Stanley Cup, so it’s not easy to be going home this early.”

'Home,' of course, meaning their offseason homes.

Just as was the case twice previously with Detroit and San Jose as well as last year with Chicago, the Canucks were the ones celebrating a victory. As they did, Nashville’s fans cheered the season and some peppered the ice with yellow giveaway towels, although it was not clear whether those towels were thrown in tribute or disgust.

“We definitely weren’t ready for this [Monday] night, for this feeling,” center Jerred Smithson said. “We battled and had some good chances but didn’t capitalize.

“We fully expected to win [this game] and to win this series. We felt good about our effort in Round 1 and we did some good things in the second round, but we weren’t as consistent as we wanted to be.”

Vancouver dealt with the noise and the atmosphere and prevailed with superior skill.

Ryan Kesler took sole possession of the postseason scoring lead with two assists, and Daniel Sedin, the NHL’s leading scorer during the regular season, got his first goal of the series — all in the first period. Kesler racked up 11 points (five goals, six assists) in the six games.

“This building was electric [Monday] night and we had to work our tails off for every inch out there,” Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. “[Nashville] is a well-coached team and a well-run organization with great support.”

The Predators responded to the deficit — as they had in their two victories — with an unlikely goal. David Legwand got them within one early in the second period when he scored from a hard angle to the left of goalie Roberto Luongo.

That was all they got, though, in two periods during which they had twice as many shots (18) as the Canucks. In the third, Vancouver tightened and allowed just six shots, one after Nashville faithful delivered their standing ovation during a TV timeout, in this case with 4:38 to play.

“It’s unfortunate we couldn’t get a win at home here for them,” center Mike Fisher said. “That part’s frustrating.”

The Predators rode the emotion of the crowd early and played frenzied, particularly early. That approach forced Vancouver to commit penalties — six in all — none of which resulted in goals. For the series, Nashville was 1-for-21 with the man-advantage.

The Canucks, conversely, converted on one of their three opportunities — that after a questionable call for embellishment against Jordin Tootoo — and maintained sound positioning throughout the contest, even as they were outshot for much of it.

“I thought we played the first two periods as well as we’ve played all in the playoffs,” coach Barry Trotz said. “The first period was a little disturbing because according to our [calculations] and what we track … we were outchancing them 11-2 and we were losing 2-0.

“That’s a hard pill to swallow.”

By virtue of the fact that they advanced to the second round for the first time, the Predators came closer to winning a championship than ever.

Still, the disappointment of a series in which they were outscored a mere 14-11 by the regular season’s best team, made it seem as if they still have a long way to go.

“It sucks when you lose,” defenseman Ryan Suter said. “Especially when you had a group of guys like we had who really cared about each other. We wanted to win the Stanley Cup and this was the first time it really seemed like we wanted it.”

Instead, that quest ended in the same arena the last one — and all the others — ended.

7 Comments on this post:

By: djarrell on 5/10/11 at 6:00

What a great team this year & what a great team for Nashville. Thanks Predators.

By: dargent7 on 5/10/11 at 6:13

Lousy game and lousy effort.
One goal in 20 min. x 3? At home? We handed the canucks the Stanley Cup.
The front line couldn't manage at least OT for 17,113 screaming fans?
Really bad.

By: gdiafante on 5/10/11 at 6:38

Darge, you haven't been paying attention to the playoffs...when SJ finally gets rid of Detroit, they'll beat Vancouver in 6. The Canucks will not hoist Lord Stanley's chalice.

Thanks to the Preds for a great year and run in the playoffs.

Now, re-sign Suter, Weber and Pekka!!

Oh, and get a new special teams coach...seriously.

By: Radix on 5/10/11 at 7:58

1 for 21 on the power play will never win a series. That has to be fixed.

Gdiafante:

Suter and Rinne are signed for another year. Weber is a RFA.

By: TITAN1 on 5/10/11 at 8:26

Thanks for a great season, Preds! We all want our teams to be #1, but when they come up short, I am still proud of their effort.

By: Cookie47 on 5/10/11 at 8:27

Hmmm, lets see. They were knocked out six games into the second round - the farthest they've ever gotten. Way to go, Preds!!!!

Don't pay any attention to dargent7. He hates EVERYTHING!!!

By: Swissman on 5/10/11 at 8:28

Great season Preds! What a negative spin on this article. Just accept the better team won. We did a great job, but were out manned. Congrats to the players, management, and coaches. A special congrats to Coach Peterson for coaching through Parkenson's. Way to go!!!