On a dreary, wet Saturday afternoon in Smashville, the Predators took a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven playoff series against the Colorado Avalanche.
The Predators have the Avs number, no matter how close the scores may look.
With Stanley Cup championship dreams, they need to batten down the hatches on allowing lesser talented teams to force the Predators to sweat games out.
They won Saturday afternoon’s game, 5-4. This was a team the Predators had beaten 11 games in a row. Make it a dozen.
As in Game 1, the Avs took first blood. They made it look easy.
“It was almost a replay of the start in the first game. One shot. One goal,’’ said Predators coach Peter Laviolette, referring to the fast start of the Avs.
Ah, but the Predators have more veterans on their roster and they know how to play from behind. Saturday’s 5-4 win proved just that. It wasn’t pretty, nor was it without drama in the Bridgestone Arena, but there was no sign of a panic attack.
Due to a Colorado mistake, the Preds Austin Watson put his team ahead 4-2 with almost 13 minutes left in the game.
The Predators started the second period on a rare power play with :03 seconds left on the power play.
The Predators came into the opening playoff series as a heavy favorite. This was a team that made it to the Stanley Cup finals, only to finish second. Most of those players returned to even the score.
But they made mistakes on the Bridgestone ice that even though they were little and did not allow the Avs to take the lead Saturday, those errors just might catch up with them if they continue to sprout up.
They need to start fast and keep the momentum, no matter who the competition is in front of them. Twice they have scored the first time and failed to take their skates off the gas.
The Predators are a veteran team and need to play like it, if they are to complete their dream.
The Stanley Cup competition gets more difficult the longer they linger.
Small errors eventually catch up with teams that continue to make mistakes.
The ‘Stone’s raucous crowd can boost them just so far. Neither will throwing catfish flying out of the crowd and onto the ice.
Please. It’s getting old and smelly. Catfish? It’s kid’s play.
These players can win by themselves. Guys like Kevin Fiala, Pekka Rinne, Ryan Johansen, Viktor Arvidsson, Filip Forsberg and many others have to bring the Cup to Nashville.
First they have to arrive here for the final series, one they fell short of last season.
They remember that gut-wrenching feeling when they lost last season. They don’t ever want to feel it again.
Joe Biddle is a WKRN.com sports analyst. He is also in the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.