By Ron Wynn
NASHVILLE, TN — Despite having no opportunity to make the playoffs, the Nashville Predators fought down to the wire before losing the final game of the season 4-3 to the Colordo Avalanche.
The win gave defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado the Central Division title.
But it took a three goal, one assist night from the Avalanche”s best player Nathan MacKinnon. He scored the game-winner on a two on one breakaway with only one minute and 42 seconds remaining.
Nashville had battled back from a 3-1 deficit, tying the game with two early second period goals. Once again they were playing without seven regulars.
They went 16-10-2 over their final 28 games. They finished only four points out of the playoffs despite all the injuries and trading off several veterans.
Next season will be quite interesting as the Predators decide who to keep among the many young players and integrate into the rotation among the returning veterans.
Longtime GM David Poile has retired and Barry Trotz returns in his place, though Poile remains as a team consultant. Head Coach John Hynes also did a fine job in keeping them in playoff contention until the final two games while having six players making their NHL debut.
The Predators will have two solid goaltenders returning in Juuse Saros and Kevin Lankinen, plus arguably the league’s best defenseman when healthy in Captain Roman Josi.
With the NHL draft coming in a few weeks and being held in Nashville, everyone now awaits the team’s first selections and actions in the post-David Poile era.