PITTSBURGH – The mood inside the Nashville Predators dressing room after their 5-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final was one of confidence.
They weren’t deflated. There was no ruing of missed opportunities. Instead, they looked at the totality of Game 1 and felt good, even if they weren’t on the right side of the final score and now trail for the first time in a series this postseason.
“We really didn’t feel it was a 3-0 game,” said Predators forward Colton Sissons. “Obviously we had that disallowed goal, that sucked, and then they took momentum and scored a few quick ones. The one was a lucky bounce, but we never gave up. We just said we need to rally; win the second period; win the third, and unfortunately it wasn’t enough.”
History says losing the first game of the Cup Final doesn’t bode well. Since the NHL went to the best-of-seven format in 1939, teams that take Game 1 have won the series 78 percent of the time. But watching the game Monday night, it’s not hard to believe the Penguins were fortunate to come out on top. Nashville dominated possession (58 percent Corsi, via Natural Stat Trick) and their strong defensive play was able to limit Pittsburgh to just 12 shots on goal, which was helped by a shot drought that lasted 37 minutes.
“There’s some things that we’ve got to clean up. Obviously, being down 3-0 against the Stanley Cup champions, coming back, tying it up 3-3 and having an opportunity to win the hockey game is definitely something to build on,” said defenseman P.K. Subban. “At the end of the day, we had an opportunity to be up 1-0 in the series. We’re not, so we’ve just got to re-group now and get ready for the next game.
“As far as the way we played, when we’re going, as you can see, the ice tilts in our favor. We’ve just got to continue to do that.”
Even Carrie Underwood is on board with that kind of positive thinking.
The @PredsNHL should not feel bad tonight!…they dominated this game! Things just didn't go our way… ????????you guys!!! ????
— Carrie Underwood (@carrieunderwood) May 30, 2017
Subban put Nashville up 1-0 early in the game, but his goal was called back after an offside review. Minutes later the Penguins’ offense erupted for three goals in a 4:11 span, a hole that the Predators knew they could climb out of considering how much time remained and how good they felt in their game.
That lost Subban goal and Pittsburgh’s three-goal barrage didn’t dampen any spirits on the Nashville bench. They kept Matt Murray busy and weren’t discouraged by their lack of breakthroughs. After the first period, their dressing room was calm with no overreactions to the scoreline.
They ultimately fell short, but the attitude coming out of Game 1 will go a long way to helping Nashville try to leave Pittsburgh with a split in the series.
“That’s hockey. That’s just what it is,” Subban said. “If we play the way we did today minus some of the mistakes that we made, I like our chances. We’ll be better next game, that’s for sure. I’m sure they’re going to want to be better. For us, we’re just going to take the positives out of this game and get ready for the next one. This is going to be a long series.”
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