Hat Trick, Empty-Netters, and History: The Nashville Predators are Stanley Cup Bound

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Photo Source: Tom Willis, Nashville Predators

I can’t see it, but go ahead and raise your hand if you woke up with that ‘Glorious’ song in your head and a ringing in your ears. The dance continues for the Nashville Predators as they eliminated the Anaheim Ducks 6-3 to advance to the franchise’s very first Stanley Cup Final. Whether you witnessed the historic event in the arena, outside on Broadway, or in the comfort of your own home, there’s a good chance you will remember this night for years to come.

Preds fans have been pretty notorious for being the loudest fans in the National Hockey League, prompting officials from Guinness World Record to venture to Nashville last night to test the decibel levels. As of right now, no official word has been released as to if Smashville blew the previous record into the water, but considering my left ear feels like there’s something blocking it tells me we got pretty darn close.

To recap the game a little bit, Nashville came out on fire… for the first ten minutes of the game (or so). Austin Watson wasted no time by deflecting one by Jonathan Bernier at 1:21 for his third goal of the postseason. Colton Sissons would collect his first of the night (third overall) at 8:47 to give Nashville an early 2-0 lead. However, the remaining of the first period would be heavily dominated by the Ducks, even with a five minute power play in favor of the Preds (due to Nick Ritchie boarding Arvidsson and picking up a game misconduct).

The second period remained in favor of Anaheim, with Ondrej Kase earning the only goal of the period, but a goal to keep the Ducks in the running. Although the Predators’ defense was on point (brushing off two penalty kills), readjusting to Ryan Johansen’s offensive absence was painfully noted. However, just like on Saturday night, key players stepped up to fill the missing role and, three minutes into the third period, Colton Sissons would notch his second of the night, lifting Nashville to a 3-1 lead.

But the Ducks weren’t just going to sit back and watch. Just two minutes later, Chris Wagner would slip a wrister by Brickwall Pekka Rinne to keep Anaheim in the game. And, at 8:52, Cam Fowler would silence the home crowd (momentarily) with a slap shot to tie the game. If you weren’t freaking out at this moment, you are lying to yourself.

But, as I always say, “Win a period. Win the game.” And Colton Sissons must’ve had that same thought process because, at fourteen minutes exactly, the 23-year-old would notch his third goal of the game, a hat trick in the Western Conference Finals.

With Sissons propelling the Preds up 4-3, there was no stopping the home team. Moments after Bernier was pulled from the net, Filip Forsberg would send the puck sailing into the net. 5-3. Then, at 18:26, Austin Watson would further seal the coffin on the Ducks with another empty-netter. 6-3. The Nashville Predators are the 2017 Western Conference Champions.

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Photo Source: Tom Willis, Nashville Predators

And no, they did not touch the Clarence Campbell Bowl after all. But let’s be honest, they aren’t after a bowl; they are after a Cup.

If you are still in shock after last night, you aren’t alone. Sorry, Music City Miracle, but this was definitely the most important sports moment in the history of, not only Nashville, but the state of Tennessee. Yes, that even includes the University of Tennessee winning the National Championship in 1998 (because that actually happened in Arizona). This team’s run for the Stanley Cup has not only brought the city of Nashville together, but the state and across the country. Please review Captain Ryan Ellis on Twitter for a good understanding of the magnitude of how many people are standing with the Preds.

Is it a Cinderella story for Nashville? Maybe to some, but the team and organization probably doesn’t believe so. The first 16th seed to advance to the Stanley Cup Final? That’s just another notch taken off the history belt. This franchise is aware of what must be done to reach the ultimate goal and they are now on their way to (further) solidifying themselves in NHL history.

The Predators will have plenty of time to rest up for the Stanley Cup Final, as the first game is set to start on Monday, May 29th. Now, who will they face for the Cup? Tonight, the reigning Stanley Cup Champions, the Pittsburgh Penguins, will have a chance to eliminate the Cup-hungry Ottawa Senators. Like the Predators, this modern Ottawa Senators team has not won a Stanley Cup, so if they can win out tonight and force a Game 7, we could be looking at a brand new Stanley Cup winner. If you would like to see the entire schedule, check out our schedule page.

Take a deep breath and take it all in, Preds fans. The Nashville Predators have come so far and have one round to go. Be ready, 7th Man.

Lastly, please enjoy this photo:

 

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Preds make history; advance to Western Conference Finals

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Image Source: NHL.com

Though Nashville had the chance to punch their ticket to the Western Conference Finals on Friday night, perhaps they purposefully lost that game just so they could seal the deal at home… one can dream, right? Whether that was Nashville’s original intent (wink, wink) or not, the Predators managed to fight off the feisty St. Louis Blues with a 3-1 win to take the series and advance to the third round, the first time in franchise history.

But let’s be honest; it wasn’t exactly the prettiest advancement ever. St. Louis wasn’t going to go down without a fight, and that was proven in Game 5 on Friday. Nashville’s performance in Game 5 was evidently still present in the first period, as the boys in gold had more issues than one, including connections on passes among other things. The first period would end with St. Louis up 1-0, thanks to an earlier wrister from Paul Stastny.

Perhaps Nashville just needed the first period to collect themselves (or Laviolette peeled the paint off the walls during that first intermission), but the Predators looked much more uniformed in the second period. Roman Josi would tie the game at 1-1 and put the home team on the board just 35 seconds into the second period. his fourth of the playoffs. Both teams would hang onto that tying score into the third period.

You know that whole “win a period, win the game” scenario? Yeah, that’s what both teams faced going into the third period. It came down to who was more desperate, to be honest. Another paint peeling by Laviolette set Nashville off on fire, with Ryan Johansen scoring his second goal of the playoffs, giving both the Predators and the home fans something to get extra loud about (along with a 2-1 lead).

Straying just a bit off topic, it is a beautiful thing to hear NHL bigwigs and announcers compliment Nashville and its fans; especially on how loud the Bridgestone Arena can get. I’ve sort of summed it up this way: When you combine a bunch of SEC football fans together, it can get a bit deafening. This is a predominately college football fan region; if you get a bunch of Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky, Florida, Ole Miss, etc. fans loving a unifying sport, it’s going to get loud. College football fans – especially those in favor of the Southeastern Conference – are a unique breed, and hooking them on a game like hockey? It’s bound to be wild.

Back to the game at hand, and with the fans backing them from that point on, Nashville held their own, regaining the confidence expected of a team up 3-2 in a series. Holding onto Johansen’s one goal lead, the Predators would hang on from that point on until Calle Jarnkrok’s empty-netter goal with one minute remaining.

For the first time in franchise history, the Nashville Predators have advanced to the Western Conference finals… and the city’s heart is on fire for this team. The amount of support the Predators have received during these playoffs is outstanding. Between the celebrity sightings, the Titans players getting “hype” for their fellow professional sportsmen, to the all-star anthem performances, it’s been phenomenal for this team and its city. And for all those fans who couldn’t get a ticket tonight? There were hundreds stationed outside the arena watching on a jumbo screen. Let’s also not forget who came out to pump up the crowd and team before puck drop tonight…

#DoItForKevin, y’all.

Whether you’ve been faithful since the beginning in 1998 or you are just entering the hockey atmosphere, be proud, Preds fans. Be proud of this team and what they have overcome to get here. 16th out of 16 teams and they are the first to advance to the conference finals? That’s playoff hockey for you, baby. Nothing is given. Anything can happen.

Since the Oilers just defeated the Ducks 7-1 to force a Game 7 in the series, it’ll be interesting to see who Nashville will end up facing in the conference finals. So here’s the question: Who would you rather face? The young, spritely team lead by McJesus or Ryan Kessler?

BONUS:

Carter Hutton told Pekka Rinne during handshakes: “Go all the way, buddy.”

Preds defeat Canucks in OT Stunner

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Image Source: NHL Public Relations

Overtime. More specifically, 3-on-3 overtime. Nashville’s nagging nemesis. Since it was introduced last season, the Predators have had a difficult time finding success after regulation ends. But last night, Calle Jarnkrok decided to change that 0-3 OT record (not including SO losses) to 1-3… with 1.5 seconds left in OT.

But let’s first talk about the game before this overtime craziness. While the score sheet notates that there were no goals recorded in the first period, don’t tell that to Filip Forsberg. Early in the first, Forsberg blasted one by Ryan Miller, but was immediately waved off by the officials as being played with a high-stick. After a quick review, it was still determined to have been played with a high-stick and the score remained at 0-0.

Austin Watson, on the other hand, made up for the missed goal just 35 seconds into the second period for his third goal of the season. Mike Fisher (14) and Roman Josi (16) assisted in giving Nashville the lead early into the second.

Nashville would maintain that lead until Miller was pulled towards the end of the third period. And guess what? That extra attacker move proved successful for Vancouver, as Brandon Sutter slipped the puck by Rinne to tie the game. With 49 seconds left. Woof.

It’s no surprise that most Preds fans feared the worst as time ticked down to zero in regulation. Again, overtime hasn’t exactly been Nashville’s strong suite (to put it nicely). Needing these points, the Predators would have to figure it out or push it to a shootout.

One advantage Nashville had over Vancouver last night was its overall game. It wasn’t hard to see that the Predators were the stronger team throughout regulation, but when it comes to overtime, that doesn’t really matter. However, Nashville did take that momentum into overtime, with it looking like the Predators would win it early with a goal from Roman Josi. However – yet again – Nashville’s goal was waved off, this time due to goaltender interference by Viktor Arvidsson.

When it seemed like all hope was lost, Roman Josi and Calle Jarnkrok sent the crowd into a victorious roar. Rushing down the ice, Roman Josi made the methodical pass to Jarnkrok who “put the biscuit in the basket”.

Glory. Pure glory. Of course, now Nashville will have to beat Vegas off with a stick (no Swedes in the expansion draft). With this amazing GWG and OT goal, Jarnkrok knocked off a few franchise records, too:

But let us not forget the guy who should’ve gotten a shutout last night: The Eraser himself. Rinne stopped 29 of 30 shots-on-goal, including some pretty close calls from the Sedin twins:

Last night’s performance was a step in the right direction for Nashville in order to keep the playoff hopes alive. However, was this an example of what’s to come or was it just another bout of inconsistency? You can find out tomorrow as the Predators welcome in the 22-17-5 Boston Bruins. A win against Boston could finally push Nashville down the path they’ve been struggled with all season.

Preds down Bolts 6-1; Sissons earns Hat Trick

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After the frustrating loss against Montreal on Tuesday, it was clear the Predators had moved on after trouncing the Tampa Bay Lightning 6-1 last night. While it is easy to fuss about the inconsistency Nashville has been plagued with this season, the type of communication and style of play that came from the team last night was further proof that they are capable of working together successfully. One could argue that perhaps Tampa Bay was simply having an off night and maybe they were. The difference here is Nashville’s victory was not guided by fluky behavior from the Bolts; they were actually organized.

Mike Fisher got the ball rolling at 2:25 in the first period, earning his 11th goal of the season. Fisher’s powerplay goal was assisted in part by Ryan Johansen (21) and Mattias Ekholm (13).

While the first period would end 1-0 with Nashville on top, Filip Forsberg would open the second period at 3:56 with his 9th goal of the season, assisted by Kevin Fiala (3) and Ryan Johansen (22), to give Nashville a 2-0 lead.

It would begin to look like Tampa Bay was on its way back as Tyler Johnson collected his 12th goal of the season, breaking Nashville’s lead in half a 2-1. Colton Sissons, however, would object to that and punch his 3rd goal of the season, assisted by Mike Fisher (12).

Not even a minute later, Ryan Ellis would notch his 5th goal of the season, but not first without some nay-say from the officials. Linesmen initially called goaltender interference on Viktor Ardvisson, claiming the goal was no good:

Predators head coach Peter Laviolette quickly challenged the ruling, which was reversed despite the disapproval of the home crowd. But before Nashville could celebrate, head coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Jon Cooper, threw out the challenge that Jarnkrok was off-sides prior to the goal. However, after thoroughly reviewing the play, it was deemed inconclusive and Ryan Ellis’ goal would stand. Colin Wilson (11) and Viktor Arvidsson (15) would notch the assists.

The third period would belong to Colton Sissons as he not only notched his fourth and fifth goals of the season, he also picked up his first career NHL hat trick. This was also his first multi-goal game in his NHL career, too. Oh, and yeah, he’s the first player in NHL history to record a hat trick with the second goal an empty-netter and the third goal with a goaltender in net. Sort of a weird record but I highly doubt Sissons is complaining.

Victories like these can help propel the Predators through this second half of the season and give them the boost for which they have desperately been searching. They will have tonight to see if that momentum lasts as they move south to Sunrise to take on the 16-15-8 Florida Panthers. Game time is at 6:30PM.

 

OT woes continue to plague Preds in 2-1 loss against MTL

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Image Source: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Although it was a bittersweet night with the return of Shea Weber to Nashville since being traded to Montreal for P.K. Subban in the off-season, it wasn’t how the Predators had hoped to start 2017 and the second half of the season. The 3-on-3 OT format has been in place since last season, and while the rest of the league has generally figured it out, Nashville just hasn’t seemed to get it down. In fact, Nashville’s OT/SO record since the start of last season is 7-20. Woof.

However, it’s that continuous inconsistency that forces the Predators into that all too familiar scenario that is the overtime loss. Nashville’s lone goal was notched by Kevin Fiala with less than a minute left in the second period, his sixth of the season. Fiala’s backhander was assisted by Ryan Ellis (9) and Roman Josi (15). It wouldn’t take long before Shea Weber would come knocking, collecting his 10th goal of the season with the assistance of former (and not so welcomed) Predator, Alexander Radulov. It’s almost like he doesn’t know how not to score in Bridgestone Arena.

While Nashville would push Montreal beyond regulation (which used to be considered a good thing), overtime would yet again deny Nashville of the much needed win and two points. Captain Max Pacioretty would seal Nashville’s OT fate for his 16th goal of the season. Let it also be known that Radulov assisted on this goal as well (his 20th overall).

Despite this loss, Nashville’s penalty kill looked rather decent, with the Predators denying the Habs four times throughout the match. Montreal gave Nashville three chances at the man advantage, but prevented them from ever getting a chance at net. Oh yeah, and Carey Price is a stud. And yet, so is Pekka Rinne. As Peter Laviolette mentioned after the game:

Of the 45 shots on net from Montreal last night, Pekka Rinne stopped all but two. Carey Price only faced 24 from Nashville. While some would rather argue that Juuse Saros should be given more ice time (and I don’t disagree – to an extent), Rinne is still Nashville’s veteran and starting goaltender; and pardon my French here, but he’s still damn good. Saros will be an outstanding successor for Rinne but for now, he’s just that; the future. He probably should see a little bit more ice time, but that’s a debate for another day.

Nashville has no time to pout about their former captain stealing the show; it’s onward to Florida to face the 19-16-4 Tampa Bay Lightning. At this point, the Predators have no time left to revel over poor performance; just time to recoup and continue seeking the solution to their inconsistency before the playoffs are out of reach.

Let me leave you on a rather heartwarming note with Nashville’s tribute video to Shea Weber. A TV timeout just wasn’t enough time to convey what Weber has done for Nashville and the growth of hockey in our city. So many lives have been impacted positively by your actions both on and off the ice. Truly, there are not enough thank yous that can be said to express how grateful we are. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

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Saros earns first NHL career shutout; blank Blues 4-0

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Image Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

As I mentioned previously, the Predators needed to feed off the frustration that mounted in last night’s loss against Chicago and boy, did they.

While the first period saw no net action, Nashville did prevent St. Louis from advancing on two power play chances thanks to some handy penalty kill work. Nashville would begin its onslaught of goals in the second period, starting with Yannick Weber at 4:52 for his first goal this season (and within the Predators organization). Craig Smith (7) and Mike Ribeiro (16) would assist on Weber’s first goal.

Filip Forsberg would answer the call at 7:26 on the power play to give Nashville a 2-0 lead for his 8th goal of the season. Mike Ribeiro (17) and Ryan Johansen (20) would pick up the assists.

While Weber and Forsberg’s goals were wonderful gifts from the hockey gods, it would be Viktor Arvidsson’s dirty wrister that would steal the show:

Viktor Arvidsson, who was been quite the shining star for Nashville, earns his 10th goal of the season, assisted by Matt Irwin (5) and Mike Fisher (10).

Carter Hutton was brought in at the beginning of the third period to relieve Jake Allen between the posts, but could not stop Colin Wilson from netting his 6th goal of the season on the power play at 8:08. Wilson’s wrister was assisted by Filip Forsberg (15) and Ryan Ellis (8).

While St. Louis would be given one extra power play chance at 13:14, rookie goaltender Juuse Saros would keep the Blues at bay, earning his first career NHL shutout. Saros, who has shined as Nashville’s backup, further proved tonight that he will be the future between the posts for the Predators. But leave it to Pekka to have us all a little misty eyed as he congratulates his apprentice on his shutout:

After a tough loss against the Blackhawks last night, tonight’s shutout against the Blues certainly has the potential to set things straight for Nashville and its hopes for a playoff run. If anything, it is a great way to end the first half of the 2016-17 season and, likewise, opens up the Predators to a fresh start in 2017.

Next up, Shea Weber and the Montreal Canadiens come to town on Tuesday, January 3rd at 7PM. Hopefully, P.K. Subban will be ready to face his former team as we celebrate Nashville’s former captain and defensive rock.

 

Frustration mounts after 3-2 loss against CHI

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Image Source: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

While it was clear that Nashville was the better team last night, it wasn’t enough to earn the win against Central Division rival, the Chicago Blackhawks. Of course, there were some questionable calls (and no calls) that ultimately gave Chicago their first win in three games.

Unfortunately for Nashville, while it is great to be the better playing team, time is running out as the second half of the season looms in just a few days. Needless to say, moral victories are worthless unless there’s a W behind them. But it is frustrating to see blatant calls missed by the official; even worse, when the wrong penalty is called and the opposing team notches a goal from it. Yes, mistakes like this happen in all sports; officials can’t see everything and sure, they call it to the best of their abilities, but come on. When the replay clearly shows the goaltender tripping a player as he passes through the crease, then you (the official) calls it against the player that was actually tripped? Not only was this game frustrating for the players, it only further disheartened an already frustrated Nashville fan base.

Although the first contact between Kevin Fiala and Corey Crawford was not caught (in .gif form), the contact between Craig Smith and Crawford was:

Somehow, Smith was given the penalty, which lead to Jonathan Toews’ tying powerplay goal. However, Patrick Kane’s goal shortly thereafter (his 700th career point) was totally on Nashville, but it’s still frustrating to think that should have been the goal to tie the game.

But there’s no use crying over spilled milk. The NHL isn’t going to reverse the call or makeup the game. It’s done and in the record books. Maybe Crawford will be fined by the league, but that is highly doubtful. All Nashville can do is build off this frustration and use it to their advantage going into the second half of the season.

Ryan Ellis, for instance, is clearly fed up in this video above. Yes, he’s reacting to the fact that the outcome of the game was essentially decided by the officials, but it also shows how much frustration has been building within this team. Hyped as one of the potential Stanley Cup front runners this off-season, the Predators have done everything but proven they are Stanley Cup contenders. The talent is there, but something just hasn’t clicked. And with both P.K. Subban (and now) James Neal on the day-to-day with upper-body injuries, will the Predators find their way into 2017?

All was not lost last night, however. Mike Fisher picked up his 10th goal of the season, Filip Forsberg notched his 7th, and Ryan Johansen tallied his 18th and 19th assists of the season.

Nashville has one last chance to end 2016 on a high note as they take on the Blues in St. Louis tonight at 7PM. Again, building on that frustration from last night’s loss may be what turns this team around for the second half of the season. Just maybe.

Jarnkrok pushes Predators over Blues 3-1

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Image Source: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Show of hands as to how many of us thought the first winning streak would come in mid-November? Okay, so there’s no doubt we all thought Nashville would have at least more than one back-to-back set of wins by now, but that is just one of the fun things about the regular season. Perhaps it is due to the fact that there was so much hype coming into the season regarding this team that, without perceived perfection, fans can’t help but think the 2016-17 season is doomed. Well, good news; it isn’t. We are on game 13 of an 82 game season. Nashville is fine.

Granted, that doesn’t make the 5-5-3 record Nashville is totting around anything to be gloating about. But the team has been addressing its issues and last night’s win against the 7-5-3 St. Louis Blues could be chalked up as a testament to this improvement.

While the first and second periods looked a bit out of sync (which allowed Jaden Schwartz to tally his third goal of the season), it took a wrister from Calle Jarnkrok at the end of the second period to give the home team some confidence. Jarnkrok’s wrister, assisted by Colin Wilson & (surprise) Matt Irwin, was his first of the season.

When the Predators hit the ice for the third period, the group looked much more put-together and, dare I say, like a well-oiled machine. After a clean connecting pass from Mike Ribeiro, James Neal collected his fourth goal of the season with a secondary assist from Pontus Aberg (who notched his very first NHL point). Not even a minute later, Calle Jarnkrok picked up his goal of the night (and season) at 4:50, slipping it past former Predators goaltender, Carter Hutton. Nashville would hang onto the lead for the remainder of regulation, giving the Predators their first winning streak of the season.

Pekka Rinne continues to be “the eraser” that he is, but he needs the rest of his team to jump on that consistency train. Personally, I am not worried about this team just yet. As I stated, last night’s tilt was game 13 of 82; Nashville has time to figure out what the issues are and get them fixed. However, they can’t put that on the back-burner and coast to the playoffs by any means.

Nashville welcomes in the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday for a special Hockey Fights Cancer Night at 7PM. Anaheim’s current record is 7-5-3 and sits second in the Pacific Division, just two points behind Edmonton. While the win over St. Louis certainly boosted some much needed morale around Nashville, a continued streak over Anaheim could be what sets the Predators on a track of success.

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Preds force Game 7 against Sharks

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Image Source: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

After losing 5-1 on Saturday in San Jose, Nashville found itself coming home to a do-or-die situation for Game 6. But this wouldn’t be the first Game 6 of the playoffs where the Predators were facing elimination. In the first round, Nashville jumped up 2-0 over the Ducks, then the Ducks came back and tied the series 2-2. Anaheim would then push ahead and take the series 3-2 in Game 5, but Nashville found the back-burners and won games six and seven. This time around, San Jose jumped forward 2-0 in the series, with Nashville then tying it 2-2 in the next two games. While it’s a little opposite of the first series, it has reverted back to Nashville being on the elimination block. But the home crowd has the magic and, as James Neal mentioned:

“We weren’t ready to go. But we’ll be ready on Monday.” – James Neal

First Period:

So the first period wouldn’t exactly start out in Nashville’s favor, with Chris Tierney notching two goals at 9:55 and 11:51. However, things would finally begin to click for the Predators at 15:27 when Roman found a hole through the crowded net-front to put the Predators on the board.

Interestingly enough, Roman Josi (who tallied 14 goals in the regular season) had 38 shots on goal before finally notching one, the most by an NHL player this postseason. Hey, one was bound to go in eventually, right?

Second Period:

Nashville would come out swinging in the second period, notching 14 shots on goal, ten more than San Jose. Out of the fourteen, one would sneak past Martin Jones; a beautiful backhander from Ryan Johansen, his fourth of the postseason. Ryan Ellis would pick up the assist on Johansen’s goal.

Third Period:

Miikka Salomaki would be flagged for hi-sticking Martin Jones, which would result in a Sharks PP goal from Logan Couture at 10:04. With half a period to go, Nashville was one goal down from being eliminated in front of the home crowd. But alas, the butterfly of the playoffs emerged at 12:44 to tie the game 3-3; Colin Wilson’s fifth goal of the postseason.

Seriously though, where does this kid hide during the regular season? Where ever it is, there’s not denying that while he may be quiet in the regular season, Colin Wilson is a beast in the post season. Someone who has been rather quiet in the postseason, though? Filip Forsberg.

Bonus Hockey:

Overtime. Nashville’s best friend in this series. After three overtime periods in Game 4, Predators fans were prepared to spend another night/morning at the Bridgestone Arena… as long as the outcome was the same as Game 4. Well, the boys in gold had other ideas; ideas to finish the game in one overtime instead of three. Viktor Arvidsson, a young Swede with the heart of lion, would be the one to save Nashville from elimination.

With a beautiful backhand shot, Arvidsson not only notched the game-winner, but his first career playoff goal.

Arvidsson, who has been beaten & kicked down throughout the playoffs (and in the regular season), somehow has always come out with heart & fire. To say he deserved this goal is truly an understatement.

History to Be Made:

The Predators are in business of making franchise history during these playoffs and they aren’t ready to stop. Thursday’s game will be Nashville’s second Game 7 in playoff history with the first being previously against the Ducks in the first round. This will also be the first time Nashville has advanced beyond Game 6 of the second round of the playoffs. More history to make? Nashville has never won a playoff game in San Jose. But, as I have said in the past, there’s a first for everything. Why not this year?

Also, it is amazing to see the support the Predators are receiving throughout the city and the state. Businesses and fellow professional teams alike are standing with the Predators, cheering them onward in the Stanley Cup Playoffs:

So rest up and come ready to rock, Preds fans. This is history in the making for the Nashville Predators franchise. Similar to Game 7 against the Ducks, the Predators will be holding a viewing party on the plaza at Bridgestone Arena at 7PM. It’ll move inside to the Lexus Lounge if the nasty weather persists.

Preds tie Series in Triple OT; Longest Game in Franchise History

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Image Source: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Wow. Honestly, I am not sure what else to say regarding last night/this morning’s Game 4 between the Nashville Predators and the San Jose Sharks. Up 2-1 in the series, the Sharks were hoping to go up 3-1 before heading back to San Jose for Game 5 but… Nashville had other ideas. Mainly, it came down to a goaltender showdown. Who was going to break first: Rinne or Jones? Well, it would take until 1AM before one finally crashed. A game full of controversy, rage, and excitement, I will say this game, even if Nashville doesn’t get beyond the second round, will be remembered and talked about for years to come.

PRE-GAME:

After being healthy scratched on Tuesday night, Mike Ribeiro found himself sitting out again for last night’s game. Ribeiro is consistent with inconsistency and the playoffs are no place for reckless passes and puck-handling. After dismantling the Sharks 4-1 on Tuesday, it was no surprise that Ribeiro was scratched for Thursday night’s game.

FIRST PERIOD:

Playoff Wilson wasted no time putting his team on the board, scoring the fastest goal in Preds playoff history at 41 seconds into the game. This was Wilson’s fourth goal of the playoffs; he only notched six during the regular season. Over the last few playoff runs, Wilson has essentially “emerged from his cocoon”, blossoming into a beautiful playoff butterfly. Yes, I enjoy comparing Colin Wilson to a butterfly. There’s no way to really explain why he does this, but no one is complaining; his push and effort has gotten Nashville to where it is now.

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Three minutes later, Brett Burns would tie the game at 1-1 for his third goal of the playoffs. But at 9:50, Mike Fisher would give Nashville the lead again for his third goal of the playoffs. Similar to Wilson, Fisher has been a consistent factor in Nashville’s playoff push this year.

SECOND PERIOD:

San Jose would control the second period with Joonas Donskoi tying the game 2-2 in one of the more controversial calls of the night and possibly of the playoffs. While it looked like Joel Ward was offside (which he was and that is all Preds fans saw), as the NHL Situation Room explains in the tweet below, the Sharks tagged up and entered the attack zone legally, thus wiping out Ward’s offside. Despite the explanation, that did not change the feelings amongst the fans inside (and those watching on TV) the Bridgestone Arena.

THIRD PERIOD:

Brett Burns would give San Jose the lead at 6:48 in the third, quieting the Nashville crowd… but not for long. Both Rinne and Jones would bend over backwards, stopping both teams from further advancing until 15:39 when James Neal would tie the game 3-3.

By the way, James Neal may have the best facial expressions in the league. There’s no poker face for this guy. Neither team would be able to top the tie, leading to the first OT for both teams during this series. If you believe that stats determine everything, then you would have left the arena before the start of OT – if you were a Predators fan, that is. That’s because Nashville has never won a home overtime game during the franchise’s history of playoffs. But there’s a first time for everything and fans (and the organization) were ready to give it a shot.

First OT… Second OT… Third OT… This was truly – as mentioned previously – a battle between two outstanding goaltenders. It really was a shame to think, while experiencing the game, that one of those goaltenders would ultimately lose. As one overtime would come and another would go, the crowd at Bridgestone Arena would hold tight despite the ever-present knowledge that work was approaching fast. If you were anything like me, I was counting each time it hit on the 30s how many hours I’d have left to sleep before having to get up for work. Both Nashville and San Jose would get there chances, including the waved-off goal in the first OT when the officials deemed goaltender interference. Again, a good call, though San Jose would probably beg the differ.

Finally, shortly after 1AM at 11:12 in the third OT, Mike Fisher finally said “I’m ready to go to bed” by slipping the puck past Martin Jones for the game winning goal. If you were not there to witness the eruption from both the Predators bench and the crowd, I cannot begin to tell you how amazing and electric the atmosphere was. It truly can be considered Nashville’s greatest sports moment thus far (aside from the Music City Miracle, of course). Most certainly in the last decade.

Pure elation from both the fans and the players; it was amazing. I’m honestly not sure how to truly describe it. I feel as if this game was not only a great representation of the strength and endurance of the Nashville Predators, but also its fan base as well. There’s no doubting Nashville is the biggest underdog in the entire playoffs amongst all of the teams left competing for the Cup. But that’s the beautiful thing about being a “non-traditional” hockey market; the passion is unique and powerful as we try to prove that we – the fans and the organization – deserve to be where we are; contending for the Stanley Cup. Whether Nashville takes this series or not, there is no doubt that the league will remember this game; that fans of other teams will take a moment to consider Nashville’s hockey legitimacy. As a fan I am happy to say that we are proud people, us Predators fans. We are passionate, we are fiery, and we are hopeful. And you can continue to deny our presence, but you will never shatter our passion for the game of hockey in Nashville, Tennessee.