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Predators pay price for home-ice failures against Jets

Inconsistent goaltending, second-line struggles end hopes of return to Stanley Cup Final

by Robby Stanley / Correspondent

The Nashville Predators missed too many opportunities and were ultimately eliminated in seven games in the Western Conference Second Round against the Winnipeg Jets.

The Predators won the Presidents' Trophy finishing as the top team in the regular season with 117 points, three more than the Jets in the Central Division. Nashville is the third consecutive Presidents' Trophy winner to be eliminated in the second round; the Washington Capitals lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2016 and 2017.


[RELATED: Rinne feels responsible for Predators loss | Complete Predators vs. Jets series coverage]


The Predators lost Game 7 5-1 at home Thursday. Neither team won two consecutive games in the best-of-7 series.

Here are 5 reasons why the Predators were eliminated in the second round:


1. Home-ice failure

Nashville lost three of its four home games in the series and were outscored 19-9 at Bridgestone Arena. Their goal all season was to get home-ice advantage for as many rounds as possible after they lost the Stanley Cup Final to the Penguins last year starting every playoff series on the road.

Despite accomplishing that goal, the Predators didn't take advantage against the Jets.

"I don't know," captain Roman Josi said. "I think we just didn't execute as well as we did on the road. Especially in this series, I thought we executed better on the road, played better defense. For some reason, we didn't do that at home."


2. Inconsistent goaltending

Goaltender Pekka Rinne was inconsistent, as was the defensive play in front of him.

Rinne was 2-1 with a .945 save percentage, 2.01 goals-against average and one shutout on the road. He was 1-3 with a 4.93 GAA and an .848 save percentage at home and was pulled from three home games during the series, including in the first period of Game 7.

"I obviously feel very much responsible for our season ending at this point," Rinne said. "Tough. Tough to swallow. Tough to understand. I can't point out anything. Felt good and no injuries, totally healthy and total ups and downs throughout the playoffs. And obviously, you know, the biggest moment of the season, it's a terrible feeling."

Video: Discussing the Predators' decision to pull Rinne


3. Second-line struggles

The second line of Kevin Fiala, Kyle Turris and Craig Smith did not contribute offensively with enough consistency.

Fiala scored in the first two games but did not have a point the remainder of the series. Turris and Smith did not score in the series. The three combined for six points (two goals, four assists), and Fiala was a healthy scratch for Game 4.


4. Unable to contain Scheifele

Nashville couldn't corral Jets center Mark Scheifele, particularly at home. Scheifele scored seven goals, all of them at Bridgestone Arena. He finished with 11 points (seven goals, four assists) in seven games.

Video: Mark Scheifele's monster Second Round performance


5. Failure to capitalize

Nashville led 3-0 in the first period of Game 3 at Winnipeg. The Jets scored four goals in the second period to take a 4-3 lead and won 7-4.

The Predators outshot the Jets 48-19 in a 4-1 loss in Game 1. Nashville could not capitalize on opportunities often enough to win the series.

"I don't think there's any formula or reason why," defenseman Ryan Ellis said. "It's just, you know, they scored on their chances. We had a lot of chances and we didn't score. The time we needed to get the next one, we didn't. Two top teams, someone had to move on, someone had to lose. [Stinks] to be that one."


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