Originally written on The Predatorial  |  Last updated 5/8/12
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Photo Credit: Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images

Nashville’s season was on the line coming into Game 5 in Phoenix after dropping the first two, winning Game 3 2-0, and being shutout for the previous 5 periods in Nashville. When it was all on the line, could Nashville force a Game 6 at home, seeing that they’ve never been eliminated away from home?

Not tonight.

Pouring shot after shot on Mike Smith, but without being able to break through, the Phoenix Coyotes capitalized on the only two chances they needed, knocking out the 4th seeded Predators on the way to their first ever trip to the Western Conference Finals where they will face the 8th seeded Los Angeles Kings.

Nashville came out of the gates a little slow to start the game, but immediately kicked it into fifth gear only after a few minutes, pounding 10 shots Mike Smith’s way and dominating the flow of the first period. Although, a troubling trend of getting great chances, yet not being able to convert, was slowly starting to rear it’s ugly head as the Predators couldn’t put a shot past Smith, marking 6 straight periods without a goal.

The Predators would start the second right where they left off, but 4 minutes in they would end up behind the 8-ball. Derek Morris blasted a slapshot from the point that squeaked past Pekka Rinne to give the Coyotes a 1-0 lead at the 3:54 mark.

After two failed powerplay attempts, Phoenix made them pay again. Martin Hanzal lasered a wrist shot to the top corner of the net, beating Rinne and making it 2-0 Coyotes 15:09 into the second. The Coyotes would then lock down Nashville for the remainder.

Nashville would have considerable chances in the third, starting with a failed 4-on-2 90 seconds in, to at least get something on the board, and they finally broke through in the waning minutes of the third. Scoring on a deflection from a pass by David Legwand, Colin Wilson made the game a bit interesting with 5:59 left.

Yet, that would be all she wrote. Nashville series ended in 5 games and the hopes of a long playoff run as well.

What comes next for the Predators? There are only questions right now, no answers. A laundry list of Free Agents for that dreaded July 1st date on the calendar. What are the fates of Suter/Radulov/A. Kostitsyn/etc? Will there be a lockout next season?

Time will tell, but hopefully the Hockey Gods will be kind to Nashville in the wake of such a disappointing second round.

We’ll be back in a day or so for the series recap and what went right/wrong, then we’ll go through some of the storylines of the summer.

Thanks to everyone for reading throughout the season, we’ll have more to come.

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