PITTSBURGH — One day after dominating the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game One of the Stanley Cup Final, a handful of Nashville Predators players took to the ice for practice on Tuesday afternoon at PPG Paints Arena. Few players attended, a testament to how little they had to work on. Everything went right — except for the score.
“If we play that way every night, we’ll hopefully like the result at the end,” defenseman Ryan Ellis, who scored a power play goal Monday, said.
Twenty-one miles away from here, the Penguins held their own practice in Cranberry Township. They played, save for the last five minutes of the first period and the last five minutes of the game, poorly.
“We found ways to execute,” Pens captain Sidney Crosby said. “I don’t know if it was perfect.”
After the game, the reaction from the players was much different. It was hard to force a positive reaction out of the Penguins. In the opposing locker room, the story was the same: the Predators knew they played a great game. That only made the loss hurt more.
“I don’t know if it was mad so much as disappointed,” Ellis said. “Now we’re faced with a little adversity. I think our team’s done a good job at turning the page from each game, whether we win or lose. I think that’s the main focus now, is that game’s behind us. We find ourselves down 1-0. We move on from there.”
Nashville held Pittsburgh to just 12 shots, with a 37 minute span in between Pens pucks on net. Four of those got past Preds goaltender Pekka Rinne, but he faced a series of unlucky bounces without a chance to get into a rhythm. The Predators to a man call him one the NHL’s top netminders and the team’s MVP.
Despite all the good, the Predators are down to start a series for the first time in these playoffs — on a team with five total games of Final experience before Game One. Teams can get visibly rattled after a big loss. The Predators, however, show no outward signs of angst.
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“I hope someone saved the catfish because I’ve never had it before,” Subban said, referring the aquatic animal throwing incident that resulted in criminal charges. “Maybe I’ll have some for dinner tonight.”
When asked whether being down 1-0 changed anything, Subban responded with a big, fat “no.”
“I mean, whether you win or lose, you got to prepare for Game Two,” he added. “We did a lot of great things last game, good things, but we have to do great things to win our next one.”
But while Nashville played well Monday, there is one glaring problem: math.
“Right now we are 100 percent in a result-orientated business,” Predators head coach Peter Laviolette said. “I would rather be in their shoes. I would rather have that Game One win because you need four out of seven. Now it’s down to six to try to grab the four.”
Headline photo: Bruce Bennett
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