Patric Hornqvist expressed a measure of frustration over the fact that he had to sit out Game 2 of the Nashville Predators’ first-round playoff series, a 2-0 loss Sunday at Chicago.
When asked about the specific reasons Monday afternoon, however, the expression on his face went blank.
“It’s upper body, that’s all I want to say,” he said. “It’s day by day.”
Hornqvist and coach Barry Trotz agreed that the team’s leading goal scorer during the regular season would be evaluated Tuesday and a decision on his availability for Game 3 that night (8 p.m., Bridgestone Arena) would be made sometime prior to faceoff.
“We always … have Plan A, B and C,” Trotz said. “We sort of talk about everything, if certain people are in or out; what would happen if this guy’s out. I think we’re well-prepared for that. The guys accept different roles.
“We just need more of someone stepping into Patric’s role right now when he’s not in. (Sunday) no one did it very well. Therefore we weren’t able to generate enough chances.”
Hornqvist, who had 30 goals and 51 points (tied for the team lead with Steve Sullivan) in the regular season, played only the first two periods of the opener. In 13:01 of ice time, he did not register a shot on goal.
“Everybody wants to play in this locker room, but the guys did a great job,” Hornqvist said. “Everybody wants to play, but that’s life. Sometimes you get hurt or people don’t play.”
Looking to lead
The Predators have won Game 3 in a playoff series – twice to be exact.
So in that regard, a victory Tuesday would be nothing new. What would distinguish it from any other is the fact that it would give Nashville a 2-1 series lead for the first time in its history.
“It’s crucial for both teams because that gives you a one-game lead,” Trotz said. “Obviously being at home, you hope you could translate that. Home and road, you just have to win four games. I’m not putting everything into one game tomorrow, but every game’s important. The series is now best-of-five, not best-of-seven.”
The Predators are eager to hear people cheer for them after the two games in Chicago attracted crowds in excess of 22,000.
“We don’t have 22,000 in the building, but we have 17,113 in the building that can make as much noise as 22,000,” Trotz said. “Just as Chicago got energized by their crowd, hopefully we’ll be energized by ours. They can be difference. … There is an energy at home.”
In the first 22 games in the NHL playoffs, the team that scored first won just nine times.
Nashville allowed the first goal in each of the first two games of the series yet it won the opener.
“It really hasn’t bothered us all year if we’ve scored first or second,” Trotz said. “We still battle away and find a way. So we just have to stay within our element. The goals will come if we execute and do the things we need to do.”
Three of the Predators’ seven all-time playoff victories came after they allowed the first goal.
• With his two goals in Game 1, J.P. Dumont became Nashville’s all-time leader in playoff goals (six) and points (10).
• Defenseman Ryan Suter tied the franchise playoff records for shots in a period (four) and in a game (six) Sunday at Chicago.
• Pekka Rinne is the fourth different goalie to win a playoff game for the Predators. Tomas Vokoun won three, Dan Ellis two and Chris Mason one in the franchise’s previous four postseason appearances.