The lights went out in Smashville Sunday night.
A heroic and historic postseason run for the Predators came up short when the Penguins prevailed in Game 6 Sunday night in Bridgestone Arena.
Predators Coach Peter Laviolette got everything he could out of his team and they went down fighting to the end in a 2-0 loss late in the game.
After almost three periods of a grueling scoreless game, the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins became the first team to win back-to-back Cups since the Detroit Red Wings turned the trick in 1997-98.
The Penguins’ Patric Hornqvist scored the first goal at 1:35 left in the game that was closing in to an overtime affair. It would stand up, although the Pens’ tagged an insurance empty net goal with 13.6 seconds.
Horngvist’s goal hurt even more as he is a former Predators. It was difficult to see Hornqvist skating around after the game kissing the Stanley Cup and holding it over his head.
The Predators could find little satisfaction in coming up short, but they gave this town an adrenaline rush like no other. This team was Cinderella on skates.
But the clock struck midnight, just as it did to Cinderella.
There were a lot of watery red eyes in the solemn Predators locker room.
“Being this close, two games away, 120 minutes, it sucks,’’ said Predators defenseman P.K. Subban. “It’s going to sting for awhile.’’
Both teams came out in a fast and furious mode. In the first half of the period, the Predators had a 13-2 advantage in hits, but neither team could find the net. It became the longest time in this highly contested series for one of the two teams to score.
The Preds were blanked in the only power play in the opening period. In the third period, they had a 5-on-3 power play situation. It, too, failed to generate a goal.
They thought they had a goal in the second period slip past Pens goalie Matt Murray, but it was shown on replay the official had blown a quick whistle and the goal was wiped out.
The scoreless game carried over to the third and decisive final period before the final outcome.
The play was fast and furious by both teams. The Penguins wanted to wrap it up in Smashville. The Predators were playing for another return trip to Pittsburgh for a seventh and final game.
The Penguins got their wish.
The Predators have no reason to hang their heads. They stayed with the Penguins for six games in the best-of-seven series. Not bad for a team that was the last team to make the playoffs.
They made this city, Middle Tennessee and beyond become a team that was easy to cheer for and support. There were an estimated 60,000 fans outside the arena, filling Broadway and beyond.
It was the first time in the Predators history to advance past the second round of postseason play.
The future for this once expansion NHL team is bright, although it will take some time to swallow the Game 6 loss for the players and their fans.
Despite the final chapter, they made us proud.
Joe Biddle is a WKRN.com sports columnist. He is also a member of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. Contact him at email@example.com.