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Associated Press
Apr 21, 2007, 5:18 PM EDT


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -The Nashville Predators thought they had all the pieces in place to make a serious run at the Stanley Cup. Now dealing with a third straight first-round loss, they are about to find out the cost of coming up short.

Nashville once again ended its postseason hopes in five games to San Jose with a 3-2 loss Friday night. Losing on home ice for a second straight year only made the early exit that much more disappointing.

"This is going to hurt for a while, and you don't know how many chances you're going to get like this against a team like that," goaltender Tomas Vokoun said.

The Predators signed free agent center Jason Arnott and forward J.P. Dumont last offseason after losing in the Western Conference quarterfinals in five games. Sitting atop the NHL with the league's best record in February, they gambled two players and two prospects to rent Peter Forsberg.

None of the changes made any difference.

A three-game skid starting March 29 with a home loss against Detroit followed by losses to Dallas and Chicago cost the team the No. 1 seed in the West.

The Predators finished second in the Central Division behind Detroit and wound up with the fourth seed, landing a second straight playoff series with the Sharks, who now are 8-2 against Nashville in the postseason. Finishing ahead of Detroit would have meant playing Calgary, a team Nashville has beaten eight of the last nine games.

Now even more changes are expected for a franchise that spent much of this season worrying about attendance problems that could keep Nashville from getting all the possible money from revenue sharing.

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The Nashville players need to maintain control over their emotions. Nichols spearing cost them game 5, when they were leading 2 to 1 and could have a power play. Instead it ends up tied on the 5 minute penalty. I saw Fosberg and Kariya throwing checks along the boards to get the puck. That isn't what Nashville pays those two guys to do. Nashville broke down as a team.
 
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