The Nashville Predators gave it all they had on Monday night in Dallas, but it just wasn’t meant to be.
John Klingberg scored at 17:02 of the first overtime to send the Stars to the second round with a 2-1 victory and a 4-2 series win.
The result sees Nashville’s postseason run come to an end, a truth that came sooner than anyone had hoped.
“We didn’t get it done, and it’s tough right now,” Predators Captain Roman Josi said. “It’s disappointing. We had a chance to win a Game 6 here and go back into our building. It’s disappointing we didn’t get the job done.”
“It’s tough. It’s a tough pill to swallow,” Preds defenseman P.K. Subban said. “We came in here obviously wanting to take the series back to Nashville, and I felt we gave ourselves a good opportunity to do that. They battled hard all series; they definitely played really, really well; and it’s just a tough pill to swallow right now.”
The opening period saw the Predators take a 1-0 lead when Austin Watson deposited a rebound at the 5:47 mark. Nashville registered 19 shots in the first frame, their highest total of any period in the 2019 playoffs.
The score was evened up by the time the second intermission arrived as Dallas converted on a 3-on-1 that was finished off by Blake Comeau.
From there, the goaltending duel between Pekka Rinne and Ben Bishop began anew, with the Stars ultimately outshooting the Preds by a 51-48 margin when it was all over. Rinne’s 49 saves set a postseason career high for the net minder.
“He was excellent,” Preds Head Coach Peter Laviolette said of Rinne. “He played a really strong game, and he gave us a chance to win. Tonight was one of those tight games, and I thought Peks played really strong. There was a lot of big saves that he made throughout the course of the game, and it’s unfortunate it ended this way.”
The two clubs traded chances throughout the third and in overtime, but Klingberg’s shot found its way through traffic to ultimately bring about the handshake line.
“It’s tough,” Rinne said. “I mean, the game just ended and your season is done with. At the same time, I want to congratulate the Dallas Stars. They played well throughout the series, and it was a good series. For us, we’ve got to look back on it, learn from it and move forward.”
From here, the Predators will return home to Nashville, clean out their lockers and say their final goodbyes for the summer over the coming days.
It’s even tougher when those goodbyes come in late April, signifying the unaccomplished goal the group had set for themselves back in the fall.
All that’s left to do is think of what might have been and dream of what’s still to come.
“Around this room, you’re going to have nothing but love for every single guy in here, and a full belief in what we’re capable of,” Watson said. “We play a really hard sport, and no matter how things are set up in a series, one team advances and one team doesn’t. I love everybody in here, and that’s I think the sentiment that you would hear from every single guy.”
“I love this team; love my teammates,” Rinne said. “I feel like we have a really strong group, and I love this group. I feel like we have potential. We just have to put it out there and show it to the people.”
Predators lose to Stars in OT