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Predators paying for power-play failures

by Brian Hedger
CHICAGO -- Patric Hornqvist stared helplessly at a small television screen just outside the Nashville locker room at the United Center on Sunday afternoon.
Dressed in a suit, the Predators' leading scorer could only shake his head and mutter as he watched the Chicago Blackhawks celebrate an improbable 5-4 overtime win in Game 5 of this Western Conference Quarterfinal series.
The Hawks take a 3-2 lead to Nashville, where Hornqvist's health will again be a big question mark for the Predators. He missed his fourth game in a row with an upper-body injury after playing in Game 1, and Nashville misses him dearly -- especially on the power play.
Nashville went 0-for-4 with the extra man on Sunday and is now 0-for-21 in the series. Part of it is bad luck. Part of it is Chicago's stout penalty kill unit. Part of it is something only the Preds can control.
"It's also confidence," forward Steve Sullivan said. "When you go into some droughts like this, you're going to start questioning yourself, squeezing your sticks and … I guess … second-guessing yourself."
Getting Hornqvist back might give that a boost, but he's spending more time riding stationary bikes these days than skating after taking a big hit by Chicago's Marian Hossa in Game 1. The hit appeared to worsen an injury Hornqvist incurred after being hit with a puck late in the regular season.
Hossa also scored the game-winning goal on Sunday just seconds after the Hawks killed off a five-minute major penalty that was given to him late in regulation for a boarding call on Dan Hamhuis.
"We've got to find a way to get one and change the momentum in our mindset," said Sullivan, who assisted on the Preds' first goal. "(We need) to get a little positivity out there when we're on the ice."
Judging by center Jason Arnott's answer about why the power play is struggling, you can see what Sullivan is talking about.
"Just can't score," Arnott said, shaking his head and hunching his shoulders. "That's it. Don't have an answer for you."
Nashville coach Barry Trotz is frustrated. The Predators have worked on the power play in practice, but it isn't translating to games.
"We've been trying different things with it," he said. "We had a chance today to win in overtime, and we didn't execute it."

It's worse than that, though.
The Hawks actually scored the game-tying shorthanded goal during Hossa's boarding penalty, a rebound backhander by Patrick Kane with just 13.6 seconds left in regulation. Then Hossa scored the game-winner seconds after Nashville wasted the five-minute major.
"They scored right after the power play," Trotz said. "We took the momentum away in the third, they got it back and they scored a big goal. We had a chance to score on the power play in overtime and didn't get it done. It's how we react from this point on."

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