When the third period began in Game 1 Friday, it was evident that the Nashville Predators were tired and barely hanging on to a 1-0 lead. Of course, it was hard not to expect the Predators to be a bit gassed after just defeating the Anaheim Ducks in an emotional seven-game series Wednesday and only having one day of rest to prepare for the Sharks in the next round.
San Jose, who had a week of rest after beating the Los Angeles Kings in five games, exposed an exhausted Nashville team and scored five goals in the third to win Game 1, 5-2. As opposed to Anaheim, San Jose plays a fast-paced style. Their speed was overwhelming in the final frame and spelled the Predators’ doom.
“I thought we had good jump right from the beginning and had a couple chances early,” defenseman Roman Josi told NashvillePredators.com. “I thought we played well in the first two periods, and in the third, we have to make sure we’re better in the next game.”
The schedule will follow a game-every-other-day pattern until Game 7, if necessary, when there are two days of rest leading up to the big game.
The playoff schedule has been less than ideal for the Predators. In the series against the Ducks, it awkwardly started a game behind every other series and was the last series to be completed. In fact, Game 1 of an Eastern Conference Semifinals match-up between the New York Islanders and the Tampa Bay Lightning began before the Ducks and the Predators concluded.
Saturday marks the first day in nine the Preds have not had to play a game or travel. They have the Saturday to themselves in hopes of being well-rested for Game 2 Sunday at 7 p.m. CST.
If the series last seven games, they would have played 14 playoff games in 27 days, which is incredibly taxing on the body.
Nashville has never advanced past the second round in franchise history.