– Nashville Predators
coach Barry Trotz
called it "a tough pill to swallow."
In the first period, Nashville failed to score on four power-play opportunities. According to the stats the Predators' coaching staff keeps, Trotz said, Nashville had out-chanced Vancouver by an 11-2 margin in the first 20 minutes -- and yet they entered second intermission down by two goals.
In the end, the Predators went 0-for-5 with the man advantage in 8:29 of time in the 2-1 Game 6 loss that gave the series victory to Vancouver. It continued a series-long trend in which Nashville scored but one power-play goal in 21 chances.
"We had some chances on the power play, we drew penalties, but we didn't convert and then they converted on their two chances and that was a little tough," Trotz said.
In the first round, Nashville scored power play goals aplenty: six in all and at least one in five of the games. But in Vancouver they met a much tougher penalty-killing team.
Whether it was an inability to cross the Canucks' blue line and simply to set up, the pressure the Canucks brought on those few occasions when Nashville actually did gain possession in the offensive zone or key saves by Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo
, Nashville never solved the riddle that was Vancouver's penalty-killing unit. Forwards Alex Burrows and Ryan Kesler
played key roles in that sense.
went off for high-sticking 50 seconds into the game and then at 4:33 Vancouver had to kill another when Kesler went barreling into Preds goalie Pekka Rinne
and was called for goaltender interference.
"In tonight's game, it was huge," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault
said of his team's penalty killing. "You start off and take four penalties in the first – two right off the bat. Penalty kill is having players committed and great goaltending. Luongo made a couple of huge saves right off the bat that permitted us to get a goal five-on-five and then a power-play goal."
Nashville center David Legwand
agreed, saying the pressure Vancouver's penalty killers applied was hard for Nashville to deal with.
"They did," Legwand said. "They did a good job when we got on the power play. But we had our chances. If you bury chances, I think it's a different game early on."
Predators forward Joel Ward
, who entered the game tied for the League lead in playoff goals with seven, pointed to a save Luongo made on Legwand in the first period.
"You know, he made a great stop on Leggie there in the first that could have turned things around," Ward said. "We had a few whacks and it just kind of slid by the net. Yeah, we didn't capitalize, which at the end of the day, you got to score. We didn't and we ended up losing."
Legwand echoed that comment.
"Yeah, I think Luongo made some huge saves there obviously. He got his glove on a couple of them and that's what it boils down to. It's a huge play. It's tough."
"You start off and take four penalties in the first – two right off the bat. Penalty kill is having players committed and great goaltending. Luongo made a couple of huge saves right off the bat that permitted us to get a goal five-on-five and then a power-play goal."
-- Canucks' coach Alain Vigneault
Trotz said he thought the biggest issue with Nashville's failure to score on the power play was that it sapped his team's ability to keep pace at times with Vancouver, which cost the Predators valuable momentum. That was the case in the first period as Daniel Sedin
scored on the power play, putting Vancouver up 2-0 halfway through the period.
The Canucks scored four power-play goals in the series.
"When we look back at this series, I thought the series would probably be won on special teams," Trotz said. "They had a dynamite power play. We did a pretty good job for the most part shutting them down, but we weren't able to match them on the front end of the power play.
"But it really didn't end up being the difference. It ended up momentum-wise a little bit of the difference in certain games, but it really wasn't the difference. It was a chance here or there. It was real close for the group."