This was the time for all able-bodied, and not so able-bodied, Nashville Predators to rise to the occasion one more time.
Predators centers David Legwand and Scott Nichol both came off the injured list to play in Game 6, a 3-0 loss to the Detroit Red Wings Sunday afternoon at the Sommet Center. The loss ended the season for the Predators, who fell for the fourth straight time in the quarterfinals of the Western Conference Stanley Cup playoffs.
Legwand is battling a foot injury and missed Game 5 Friday night in Detroit. Nichol broke his left thumb in Game 1 of the series and was expected to be out four-to-six weeks. Instead he felt fit enough to play despite needing surgery to repair the thumb.
“I was sick of sitting up there and watching these guys battle tooth and nail,” said Nichol. “My doctor went to a conference in Phoenix, and there were a lot of hand specialists there. He showed my films and where he put my screws.
“They unanimously thought that if I could fit my hand in a glove and deal with it, then I was good to go. If something happened, then we could put another screw in it. I just wish I could have done more.”
Ironically, Legwand and Nichol are roommates on the road. Nichol stressed that Legwand is unfairly criticized at times about his performances because he plays with injuries no one publicly knows about.
“Leggy sometimes gets a bad rap,” Nichol said. “He plays hurt a lot for being a top one or two line center.
“People sometimes don’t understand how beat up we are. We still go out there and give our all. Sometimes your all is only 75 percent.”
One player who did not make a comeback was center and team captain Jason Arnott. Predators general manager David Poile officially confirmed Sunday what had been speculated for several days — Arnott has a concussion.
Just when the concussion was sustained is questionable. In Game 3 he was slammed against the boards by teammate Alexander Radulov during an over-jubilant celebration of Arnott’s first goal of the playoffs. He left the game and did not return for approximately the final four minutes.
But Arnott was back in Game 4 and played the full 60 minutes. He was also hit in the head with a puck during that game.
Friday morning he told the coaching staff he didn’t feel well following the morning skate. He did not play in Game 5 at Detroit, a 2-1 overtime loss.
“We lost some big bodies toward the tail-end of the series,” said Predators goaltender Dan Ellis. “It’s tough when you lose some of your big guys and you are already shorthanded. We had a number of key injuries and it is tough to play Detroit even if you are healthy.
“We gave it our best effort. We pushed to the very end. This group showed a lot of character. We showed a lot of resolve.”