Goalie Pekka Rinne showed why he’s a finalist for the Vezina Trophy and Shea Weber anchored the Predators blue line, although --- as predicted -- defense wasn’t the problem as the Vancouver Canucks dispatched the Preds with a 2-1 victory on Monday night.
Nashville just couldn’t score.
"Yeah, I mean we were one of the best teams in the league defensively again this year," Weber told The Tennesean’s John Glennon. "Sometimes, that can only get you so far. We had a lot of different guys step up this year and I think that helped get us to where we are. But obviously that little extra boost might help."
Only three Predators forwards had goals in the series, led by David Legwand and Joel Ward with four each. Matt Halischuk, who scored in Game 2, was the other.
Here’s some more form The Tennessean’s Glennon:
"We can't just leave it all on Leggy and Wardo to score," forward Patric Hornqvist said. "It's not going to work in the long run. It was close every game, but myself and some of the other guys didn't play as well as we know we can."
Some of the Predators who came up short on the offensive production front against Vancouver included Martin Erat (0 goals, 3 assists), Mike Fisher (0 goals, 1 assist), Hornqvist (0 goals, 0 assists) and Sergei Kostitsyn (0 goals, 1 assist).
The Predators had expected more offensive pop from the playoff-tested Fisher, whom they picked up in exchange for a first-round draft pick before the trade deadline. He had six points in the first-round series win over Anaheim, but fell silent against a stronger Vancouver defensive team.
"Yeah, we had some chances," Fisher said. "We just didn't bury them. That's the way it goes sometimes. It would have been nice to get a few, but it wasn't going."
Maybe the uptick in excitement around Nashville -- not to mention the revenue generated from six home playoff games -- will allow the Predators to be a little more generous this postseason. It’s probably doubtful the Preds will be in the running for Brad Richards, but other forwards like Erik Cole could possibly be within reach. Marcel Goc, who not available for the playoffs after he underwent shoulder surgery in February, and Steve Sullivan, who suffered a lower-body injury in Game 3 and missed the rest of the series, will be unrestricted free agents.
Nashville coach Barry Trotz hinted after the series may have gone differently if those two -- along with Cal O’Reilly, who suffered a broken leg earlier this season -- healthy.
“We’ll never know,” Trotz said. “That’s for another day. The guys that were there were Nashville Predators and they grew a little.”
That they did. The Preds advanced to the second round for the first time in franchise history and they also won their first game while facing elimination, a 4-3 victory over the Canucks in Game 5.
“This is very special group,” Trotz said. “I’ve been coaching a long time (and) this group had great intangibles. If this group would have beaten the Vancouver Canucks, it wouldn’t have surprised me a bit.”
-- A.J. Perez