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Stanley Cup Final

5 Reasons: Why Predators lost in Cup Final

Road struggles, lack of production from top scorers too much to overcome against Penguins

by Robby Stanley / NHL.com Correspondent

NASHVILLE -- The Nashville Predators' most successful season came to an end with a 2-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final on Sunday.

The Predators advanced to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time but did not have enough to prevent the Penguins from becoming the first team to win back-to-back Stanley Cup championships since the Detroit Red Wings in 1997 and 1998.

Here are 5 reasons the Predators were eliminated:

 

1. DEFENSE IN PITTSBURGH

The Predators allowed a combined 15 goals in three road games during the Final. Pekka Rinne had a .756 save percentage on the road in the series, and the Predators gave up too many odd-man rushes.

They wanted a chance to redeem themselves with a Game 7 in Pittsburgh but weren't able to get to that point.

"It stings right now, you know?" defenseman P.K. Subban said. "It's a tough feeling being in that locker room seeing your teammates like that. A lot of tears, a lot of emotion, and there should be. We all care. And we wanted, obviously, to have an opportunity to play for the Cup in Game 7 in their building. And it didn't happen for us."

 

2. NOT ENOUGH PRODUCTION FROM SCORERS

Filip Forsberg, Viktor Arvidsson and James Neal each scored one goal in the series; Forsberg (nine) and Neal (six) were first and second in Stanley Cup Playoff goals for the Predators, and Arvidsson and Forsberg tied for the Nashville lead in regular-season goals with 31.

Forward Frederick Gaudreau led the Predators in the Final with three goals. He was the only player with more than one goal during the series.

"It's a tough feeling," Forsberg said. "You watch those guys' dream come true, and obviously you're so close to it. Obviously it's a little too soon to say, but really proud of all these guys and the job that we've done all year."

Video: The guys on the Preds' performance in Game 6

 

3. BIG INJURIES TO OVERCOME

The Predators were without injured forwards Kevin Fiala and Ryan Johansen, two offensive weapons who could have made a difference against the Penguins.

Fiala broke his left femur during Game 1 of the Western Conference Second Round against the St. Louis Blues on April 26, and Johansen required emergency surgery to his left thigh for acute compartment syndrome after he was injured during Game 4 of the conference final against the Anaheim Ducks on May 18.

"I'm really proud of this team and the way we played, the way we handled things when we faced some adversity throughout the [Final]," Rinne said. "Even the St. Louis [series], Kevin Fiala goes down. Anaheim series, [Johansen] goes down. Probably both of the guys were playing the best hockey of their careers."

 

4. PITTSBURGH'S TRANSITION SPEED

The speed of the Penguins proved to be difficult for the Predators to contend with when they were on the counterattack.

The Predators allowed odd-man rushes that led to scoring chances too often during the three games in Pittsburgh. It also prevented them from creating their own chances; they scored four goals, two at even strength, in the three road games.

Video: PIT@NSH, Gm6: Hagelin strikes into the empty net

 

5. CROSBY'S BREAKOUT

The Predators did a good job in the beginning of the series in limiting the effectiveness of Penguins center Sidney Crosby, but he raised his play as the Final went on, particularly in Games 4 and 5.

Crosby had one goal and three assists in that two-game span.

"He won the Conn Smythe [Trophy], so he's a great leader in this league," Subban said. "He's a guy that's going to be a Hall of Famer when his career is said and done. At the end of the day, losing [stinks] but that's a good team over there and they've got some great players and they've worked extremely hard all year."

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