The visiting locker room inside the United Center was dead silent early Wednesday morning.
After 101 minutes of play in Game 4 against the Blackhawks, the Nashville Predators sat at their stalls at the end of their longest game in team history, only to pack up after a disappointing loss that left them down 3-1 in their opening-round playoff series.
"We were in it. It was a fun game," Craig Smith said. "We played hard. Just sucks."
The players were exhausted by the time Brent Seabrook's game-winning goal went in to end Tuesday's triple-overtime contest. And like the previous three games in the series, the Predators felt they were right in it with the Blackhawks, only to miss out on a look that Chicago managed to capitalize on.
"I thought we did all the right things," Smith continued. "We had a lot of emotion on our bench, we were fired up. These types of games there are going to be funny bounces so that's why you shoot. We had some really good looks, we had the chance to put the puck in the net but just couldn't quite get it."
The Predators took the lead in the first period off a goal from Colin Wilson, but it took Antoine Vermette just over a minute to score his first goal with the Blackhawks to tie things up.
The Predators then managed to use second period to their advantage after being outscored 18-4 during that frame in their last 10 contests. James Neal found the back of the net, closing out a strong 40 minutes for Nashville before the Blackhawks outplayed them in the third.
"I think we played two really good periods," Roman Josi said. "In the third we sat back a little bit and they came at us. But even in OT we had our chances. They had their chances too, but just didn't go our way.
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"We have to play the same way as we did for two periods today. I thought we were the better team the first two periods. We were up 2-1. We just have to come out with a lot of energy, these games are so tight. Little mistakes are going to burn you so we have to limit those."
After such an emotionally-charged game, the Predators couldn't help but feel tremendous disappointment. But they're confident that a return to Nashville could be just the boost they need to get the series back to Chicago.
A 3-1 deficit is a tough pill to swallow, but the Predators have no doubt that they'll be ready to bring their best performance for their most important game of the season on Thursday.
"Eventually the sun will come up tomorrow," head coach Peter Laviolette said. "Our guys are resilient. They will not cave. And they will not go away quietly. So they'll be ready to play Game 5, I promise you."