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Shutout loss to Minnesota has Predators contemplating missed opportunity


Jan 12, 2014


Prior to the start against Minnesota this evening, Nashville stood eight points behind the Wild in the standings, one game in hand, and a chance to make a huge jump in the standings with a win against a divisional opponent. After a 4-0 shutout loss with rookie Darcy Kuemper backstopping Minnesota, the Predators could only sit back and reflect on how they may have missed one of their biggest opportunities of the season.

“They are right there in front of us in the standings and we needed tonight, but we didn’t get it,” said Predators captain Shea Weber.

Within a span of two minutes and twelve seconds in the first period, Nashville was down 2-0 by goals from Dany Heatley at 12:03 and Jason Zucker at 14:15. Minnesota made it a point of getting traffic in front of every Predators opportunity on net, helping them limit Nashville’s shot total to five at the end of the first twenty minutes of play.

“It’s tough. They came out with a lot of juice and got us on our heels a little bit in the first. They capitalized on a couple of turnovers. We tried to stick-handle. We tried to make plays through people and just sometimes you can’t,” said Predators head coach Barry Trotz.

“We worked on getting the puck from low to high and up top and we would shoot a puck and they were doing a great job deflecting the shots and blocking the shots. When that happens your layer is behind and they are on the go the other way. They collapse in front of the net and that is one of their strong points,” said Predators forward Eric Nystrom.

While the Predators would get 18 more shots over the course of the next two periods, scoring chances were few and far between. Frustration mounted for Nashville as the score piled up, ending with one of their more disappointing losses of the season.

“It’s disappointing from our standpoint. We don’t know how it is all going to play out in the end here, so when you get chance and put it in your own hands and don’t get it done, you feel more disappointed,” said Trotz. “I felt we had a good chance by getting this one and then getting Calgary. All we can do right now is we have an opportunity to do it ourselves. We’re going to hope [the Wild] fall off the rail a little bit, and we string together a couple of victories here.”

“We get one game in hand on them and not too many points behind. This loss is really hard on us right now, but there is nothing we can do about it right now. We have to learn about it and come out really fresh on Tuesday,” said Predators forward Patric Hornqvist.

Now ten points back of the Minnesota Wild in the standings for the last wildcard spot in the Western Conference, the Predators have to earn points against the Calgary Flames on Tuesday. Nashville is getting help from the teams in front of them as Phoenix has lost it’s last two and Dallas, who are immediately ahead of the Predators, have lost their last six. Calling Tuesday night’s game a must-win would be a true understatement for this Predators team who have gone 1-3-3 in their past seven games.

“It’s huge, we have to get back on the rail here and get going, at least at home. We have to be better at home and then we go on the road, it will be a big win for us, but I am pretty sure we are going to come up with a big effort,” said Hornqvist.

Photo Credit: Kristen Jerkins