The Nashville Predators haven’t scored the first goal in a game since Mar. 23 against the Columbus Blue Jackets, which means they’ve been playing from behind in 12 consecutive games. They fell behind early once again to the Vancouver Canucks on Monday night in the first period and lost their seventh consecutive game in regulation, which is a franchise record.
“We haven’t played downhill yet for a while. We’re always playing uphill, and that’s how it feels. It feels like you’re in a race and you’re pedaling uphill all the time. That’s the difficult thing. When you’re on the other side of it, you feel like you’re pedaling downhill. That’s the best way to describe it. Once you pedal uphill and it gets to a certain area, it starts going downhill. We’d love to get the first goal,” said Predators head coach Barry Trotz.
Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler opened the scoring just 1:34 into the game. To make matters worse, Derek Roy scored exactly three minutes later to give the Canucks an early 2-0 advantage. Though the Predators climbed back to tie the game at 2-2 in the second period, another slow start proved costly in the 5-2 loss to the Canucks.
Scoring first doesn’t guarantee a win, but it is something that is important for the Predators. They are a much better team when they’re playing with the lead rather than chasing from behind. When the Predators score first this season, they are 11-0-5. When they don’t, they are 4-21-3.
“I don’t know the numbers, but whoever scores first usually wins. Obviously, we’re shooting ourselves in the foot off the hop,” said Predators forward Rich Clune.
With a lineup decimated by injuries, the Predators have a lot of young players searching for confidence in their game at the NHL level. Scoring first would be a pretty good way of giving this team some confidence.
“I think it would do a lot. I think our group is young, and they’re willing. I’d like to see something good happen,” Trotz said.
With the loss, Nashville’s playoff hopes have officially been dashed. This will be the first time since the 2008-09 season that the Predators have failed to make the playoffs, and it will be just the second time since the 2003-04 campaign that they have missed the postseason.
“We still have to play hard. It’s obviously tough. This may be the second time I haven’t been in the playoffs, but it is what it is. We have to find a way to battle here in the last games and try to get some wins,” said Predators captain Shea Weber.
Nashville will take on the high-flying Chicago Blackhawks on Friday night at the United Center for the final time this season. The Predators will be looking to finally score that first goal in the game and see if their fortunes turn when they’re playing with the lead.