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Predators call playoff elimination 'tough pill to swallow'

Disappointed with performance in Game 6 loss to Stars

by Tracey Myers @TraMyers_NHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

DALLAS -- P.K. Subban sat in his stall sporting his Nashville Predators hat, trying to come up with the words to describe another disappointing moment for his team in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"It's tough. It's a tough pill to swallow," Subban said after Nashville was eliminated by the Dallas Stars with a 2-1 overtime loss in Game 6 of the Western Conference First Round at American Airlines Center on Monday. "I think that we're a confident group in the guys that we have here, but it's a results-based business, you know? You [have to] have results."

But it was more frustration for the Predators, who won the Central Division title for the second consecutive season. After reaching the Stanley Cup Final in 2017, Nashville lost in seven games to the Winnipeg Jets in the second round last season before its loss to Dallas in the first round this season.

 

[WATCH: Predators vs. Stars Game 6 highlights | Complete series coverage]

 

The Stars, who advanced when defenseman John Klingberg scored from the left circle with 2:58 remaining in overtime, will play the St. Louis Blues in the second round. 

"I mean, the game just ended and your season is done with," Predators goalie Pekka Rinne said. "At the same time, I want to congratulate the Dallas Stars. They played well throughout the series and it was a good series. I think for us, we [have to] look back and learn from it and move forward."

Video: NSH@DAL, Gm6: Preds, Stars face off in thrilling OT

Game 6 may have been the best in the series, with each team getting quality scoring chances and each goalie turning in outstanding performances. Ben Bishop made 47 saves for Dallas while Rinne made 49 saves for Nashville.

"I thought we did a lot of good things, guys competed hard. But at the end of the day, in a 1-1 game, you could use one more goal," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. "There are things I thought we cleaned up from previous games, but you'd have to go game by game to break that whole thing down. In the end, they got it done tonight. We didn't."

As for what went wrong for the Predators, it was a combination of things. They committed too many penalties (26), and it was costly in Game 4, a 5-1 loss, when the Stars went 3-for-6 on the power play. Turnovers were a problem in Game 5, a 5-3 loss, when the Predators' 19 giveaways led to some great scoring opportunities for the Stars. Their top line of Filip Forsberg, Ryan Johansen and Viktor Arvidsson combined for four points (a goal and an assist each from Forsberg and Johansen). 

Finally, the Predators' power play was a constant problem. They were 0-for-15 in the series, including 0-for-4 in Game 6.

"Trust me, we had a lot of meetings," Predators captain Roman Josi said. "We tried to work on it, we kept working on it. For some reason, we just didn't execute on the power play, and I'm part of the power play, so I take full responsibility for that. It's a huge part of the playoffs, and even tonight we had a lot of chances. If we get a goal there, it's a different game. We didn't get one."

On Monday, Austin Watson scored the only goal for Nashville, his first of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, after Stars forward Jason Spezza made an errant pass near the blue line, to make it 1-0 at 5:47 of the first period. 

However, Dallas answered at 5:20 of the second period when forward Radek Faksa poked the puck away from Subban near the blue line and Blake Comeau finished off a 3-on-1 to tie it 1-1.

After Klingberg won it in overtime, the Predators were at a loss for words. They thought they were hitting their stride as the regular season ended, but they couldn't match the consistency of the Stars, and their hopes for a long playoff run ended as a result.

"It's tough to point out any one thing right now," Watson said. "There was a lot of chances both ways and both goalies were spectacular. When you get into overtime, one of two things is going to happen. It's really hard to accept right now. It's disappointing, and that's really all I can say about it."

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