The Nashville Predators took the ice for Game 2 at the Ball Arena tonight in hopes – need – of beating the Colorado Avalanche and going home with a split series, as well as proving to themselves and everyone else that they can to keep up with the Avalanche.
Despite getting off to a better start than Tuesday, an unfortunate pass from Jeremy Lauzon saw the avalanche separate him from the puck just over five minutes into the game. Nathan MacKinnon, roaming the ice, got the puck past Ingram to give the Avalanche a 1-0 lead.
That goal aside, Connor Ingram looked more comfortable than David Rittich from the start, and the Preds’ skaters were noticeably less uncoordinated in front of him. Offense and defense didn’t look particularly impressive, but much of the panicked confusion that characterized Game 1 and kept the Preds from getting a grip on the first period was missing.
As the period progressed, the Preds gained a shot distribution advantage and pushed back to level the game again. Filip Forsberg drew a penalty as MacKinnon shoved his helmet off his head, but the Avs countered early and pushed the Preds’ power play to an icing on the cake, killing another chunk of time. Even after the Preds made it back into the offensive zone, Cale Makar stole the puck and hit another great shorthanded breakaway, forcing Ingram to make another big save.
Ingram had to make yet another massive save as the teams returned to even strength in a two-on-one game that felt sure it would go into play, but he held that save. Moments later, Yakov Trenin was able to level the game 1-1 after a great pass from Roman Josi.
At 3:12 of the first period, Bowen Byram was called on to hook Tanner Jeannot as both were chasing the puck, sending the Preds back on the power play. The arena reacted poorly but probably shouldn’t have bothered as Makar headed for the Preds’ net again undermanned. His attempt was cut short by a teammate who went offside, and the Preds were given a rest. Although this time they managed to get into the offensive zone and line up, the Avs broke out again and attacked outnumbered.
In the final seconds of the third, the Avalanche bombarded Ingram with shots, but some heroic block shots and timely saves ensured a 1-1 draw at the break.
The Avalanche came out to start the second period right where they ended the first. Ingram was knocked off his feet early and the Avs kept firing until a hook penalty from Alexandre Carrier called and sent the Preds to penalties – but also got Ingram back up. The Preds were able to kill the penalty and returned to even strength, then managed to clear.
Still, the momentum had tilted more than toward the Avalanche again, and when Filip Forsberg tripped Mikko Rantanen, it only added to the tilt. The Avs’ powerplay threatened early and often, but Ingram made some great saves and Mikael Granlund managed to set Trenin up for a shorthanded chance, despite MacKinnon defending effectively and Darcy Kuemper being able to parry.
About halfway through, Dante Fabbro took a shove too many at MacKinnon, who spun around after the collision and landed face down on the ice. The referees called it right, but the Preds managed to take another powerful penalty and keep the score. Although the Avs continued to threaten, the Preds’ top line got a huge opportunity that they couldn’t take.
The hits intensified as the period progressed, with both teams checking heavily and Ingram being called upon to make several more big saves. Trenin had another chance but missed, and with less than a minute to go the Avalanche iced the puck. However, they recovered strongly and attacked again.
With 4.8 seconds remaining, the Avalanche appeared to score, but one of the umpires immediately objected due to an initial contact from Artturi Lehkonen even before Lehkonen was on top of Ingram as the puck crossed the line and went into the net. The goal was waved off on the ice but Jared Bednar challenged the goalkeeper’s interference; A review confirmed the call and gave the Avs a small bench for the wrong challenge.
The Preds had all the break to plan the remaining 1:55 of their power play and perhaps address the way the Avalanche’s aggressive penalty kill had thwarted them all series. We were also waiting for an update on Jeremy Lauzon, who left after an apparent injury to his mouth with about three minutes left in the second.
Lauzon was back to start the third and Valeri Nichuskin knocked up Ryan Johansen in the opening faceoff, giving the Preds nearly two full minutes 5v3. However, the Avalanche’s penalty remained strong. Filip Forsberg rang iron and the Avs countered, with Ingram making another fantastic save against Makar. Although the Preds got back into the offensive zone, they failed to score.
The Avalanche returned to full strength and attacked immediately. There was a brief pause as the Preds got out of their own end, but they were immediately pinched again, with Ingram making another critical save from Gabriel Landeskog and moments later an absolutely spectacular save from Byram in a tackle-one.
With seven minutes remaining in the third period, Luke Kunin took a penalty check against during a scuffle in front of the Preds’ goal. While the Preds lacked possession early on, the Avalanche returned and prepared almost immediately, encircling the Preds’ penalty-killers for an agonizingly long shift. Colton Sissons made an early switch but when Granlund, who replaced him, was able to leave the ice it was over two minutes for him let alone the rest of the penalty killers.
The Preds killed the penalty kick and eventually went on the attack. Duchene had a chance and Kuemper – who was still in the game – saved a nice Forsberg shot with less than 2:30 left. It was the best the Preds had seen of any series. That push was thwarted when Josi gave the puck away to Rantanen, but the Preds quickly rebounded out of their zone.
Kunin attempted a wraparound which Kuemper saved from the net with Granlund wide open; the Avs got another riot of their own; and the teams went into overtime.
The Preds started into overtime without Mark Borowiecki but with a little more energy — at least before they ended up back in their own zone. Roman Josi saved a goal from JT Compher and then blocked another shot; The Preds were very fortunate with some deviations the following shift. Shortly thereafter, however, Kuemper had to make a strong parry against Granlund.
After that it was the Avalanche show again. Kuemper set up a break for Valeri Nichushkin, but Nichushkin misplayed the pass, barely knocking the Avs back. Tanner Jeannot managed to get in deep briefly before the Preds were once again pushed back out of the offensive zone. A little later, Forsberg and Duchene also located the offensive zone, but again no dice.
Halfway through the OT period and with Josi still on the ice to block the first shot, Makar finally managed to put a shot (his 11th on target and 22nd overall of the evening) past Ingram .
Ingram made a total of 48 saves in the loss.