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

Screen Shot 2017-05-23 at 9.21.08 AM

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.

DAe3_-NXcAQSNKU.jpg_large.jpeg

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:

 

Predators trounce Toronto 9-2; tie Franchise Record

Taylor+Beck+Nashville+Predators+v+Toronto+TF5H5JZ67Tbl

Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America

It’s the first meeting of two this season between the Nashville Predators and the Toronto Maple Leafs, with Nashville sitting 2nd in the Central Division and Toronto sitting 6th in the Atlantic. Though on different sides of the Conference Coin, both teams are looking to improve their appearances (Toronto is coming off a two-game losing streak and Nashville? Well, we always need positive press). So, were the Maple Leafs able to cut their losses and collect a win or is Nashville still clawing at St. Louis’s heels?
—————————————————————

First Period:
– Just 1:52 into the first period, the silent Taylor Beck clocks a wrister past Jonathan Bernier for his second goal of the season. Shea Weber (4) and Paul Gaustad (4) picked up the assists.
– A 10:14, Derek Roy nabbed his first goal (and point as a Pred) of the season with a backhander. Matt Cullen (4) and Ryan Ellis (7) collect the assists on Roy’s goal.
– Taylor Beck would finish off the first period with another goal, this time a backhander and on the powerplay for his third goal of the season. Filip Forsberg (13) and Seth Jones (5) would help with the assists.
– Toronto wasn’t that far being Nashville in SOG, with eight compared to Nashville’s twelve.

Second Period:
– Eric Nystrom picked up his third goal of the season at 18:45, putting the Predators up 4-0 over the Maple Leafs at the end of the second period. Taylor “on fiyah” Beck (2) and Craig Smith (4) picked up the assists.

Third Period:
– Mike Ribeiro set the third period on fire just 53 seconds into the period with a tip-in past Reimer. Ryan Ellis (8) would collect on the assist.
– Not even a minute later at 1:26, Filip Forsberg (9) would put Nashville up 6-0 with a deflected goal. Shea Weber (5) and Mike Ribeiro (11) would pick up the assists.
– Calle Jarnkrok would put the Preds up 7-0 at 3:06 for his first goal of the season with assistance from Colin Wilson (4) and Shea Weber (6).
– Pushing it 8-0 at 5:14, Roman Josi collects his third goal of the season with a wrap-around. Eric Nystrom (3) and Paul Gaustad (5) amass the assists.
– Former 2004 Nashville draft pick Mike Santorelli finally put Toronto on the board at 8:18 for his third goal of the season.
– Just a few minutes later at 10:32, Nazem Kadri (5) shot the Maple Leafs up 2-8 with assistance from Dion Phaneuf and former Predator, Cody Franson.
– Colin Wilson put Nashville up 9-2 at 17:28 with a snap shot for his second goal of the season; assistance from Calle Jarnkrok (2).

—————————————————————
And with Wilson’s goal (and much distaste from Toronto fans – many f-bombs dropped and a bag of what looked to be “sheet” and a jersey hit the ice), Nashville prevails in Canada on a Tuesday. Also prevailing is the fact Nashville has now tied their franchise record of number of goals scored in a game (vs. Calgary in 2006 and Pittsburgh in 2004). Oh, and let us also not forget the Predators have hopped-skipped-jumped St. Louis to take the lead of the Central Division… again. One more stat for the night: Shea Weber’s three assists tonight now tie him with Kimmo Timonen with 222 assists for Nashville.

Sadly, Olli Jokinen remains point-less, despite many chances tonight alone. However, just because he has been unsuccessful collecting a point, he has been a huge part in getting Nashville to where it is now, 12-4-2. You can see from the past few games that he is getting more and more frustrated, but his points will come.

Nashville is pushing eastward to face David Legwand in his new hometown of Ottawa on Thursday night, then it’s back to Nashville on Saturday night. But for tonight, it’s a celebration! Preds going up on Tuesday (as the cool kids say):

Leafs blank Preds 4-0

image

Ouch. Not much stings worse than a goose egg at home.
However, out of all the goalies Nashville is faced over its 15-year span, Jonathan Bernier has to be the most despised, yet respected.
Come on! What about Luongo? Howard? Kiprusoff? Yes, those goalies have engrained themselves into a special place in every Preds fans’ mind, but none have a record against Nashville like Bernier. After the win last night, he now stands at 8-1-0 against Nashville… even when he was a backup for the Kings.
And if you watched any of the game last night, whether you were there in the arena or sitting on your couch on TV, you couldn’t miss how in control Bernier was last night. He allowed maybe one or two to ricochet, but the majority of his stops were controlled. One would have thought he put a magnet in the puck and his glove. He just couldn’t be stopped.

And this is no dog on Nashville; oh no. Yes, there were a few hiccups, but all-in-all, the Predators played hard and came out of the game on top with shots on goal, 36-26. But Bernier was on his A-Game last night and, although they tried valiantly, it just wasn’t enough to sneak one past the seasoned goalie.

Due to an unfortunate collision with former Predator Cody Franson, who went face-first into the rounded glass and cut his nose on his visor, Mike Fisher was given a major, which left the Predators with the remainder of the game in the favor of Toronto. The Maple Leafs would capitalize twice before the final buzzer, with an unfortunate knock-in goal by rookie Seth Jones.

Back to the Franson/Fisher hit, it was clear – as most people didn’t even see the accident – that is was, as Mike Fisher quoted it, “just a hockey play” and was “surprised” to have received a penalty. Fisher did make the effort to reach out to Franson after the game to make sure the former Pred was alright. As we all know, Fisher is not a malicious player and does not go out to intentionally injure opposing players. Freak accidents happen and, from the outside looking in, that’s what it appears to be. The NHL has not ruled out a supplemental discipline for Fisher’s hit, but as of 9:30AM Friday morning, no word has been announced.

Goose eggs – no, not Gaustad eggs – are an instant morale drainer. Just as Nashville was gaining confidence from Tuesday’s winner over the Wild, it was taken down a peg by a 4-0 loss to the Maple Leafs. After last night’s loss, the Predators are now sitting pretty at the bottom of the newly reformed Central Division. However, don’t let that disheartening fact get you down; it’s only the fourth game of the very long season. Hey, you have to hit rock bottom to hit the top, right?

The Predators welcome in the New York Islanders Saturday night at 7PM. Tickets are still available, so get them now!

L.A. Kings take advantage in 3rd, Predators fall 4-2

Kevin Klein returns to the lineup on Saturday to take on the L.A. Kings

The Predators left San Jose with a shootout loss against the Sharks and came into Los Angeles, hoping to knock out the Kings, who are currently sitting in fourth place in the Pacific Division. Unfortunately for the Predators, like the Sharks, the Kings are desperate and hungry for a playoff spot. With Colorado, San Jose, and L.A. all bouncing around the last playoff spot, the Predators would have to come out strong and physical against the Kings to knock them down a notch. However, the Kings weren’t backing down. Here are the highlights from Saturday night’s game in Los Angeles:

KEY POINTS:

  • As expected, Kevin Klein returned to the lineup after sitting on the scratched list for a few weeks due to an upper body injury. Colin Wilson, Roman Josi, Brian McGrattan, Jack Maclellan, and (unfortunately) Paul Gaustad rounded out the scratched list.
  • The Kings took a bite out the Predators at 7:53 in the first with a snap shot past Pekka Rinne from Anze Kopitar (his 23rd goal of the season). Kopitar’s goal would be the only goal during the 1st Period, with L.A. cranking out 10 shots on goal and Nashville only taking 5.
  • The Predators would tie it at one with a power play goal from Martin Erat at 13:43 in the 2nd for his 18th goal of the season. Marty’s slap shot past Jonathan Bernier was assisted by Ryan Suter (35th assist) and Shea Weber (28th assist).
  • The Kings came out on fire during the 3rd Period, pressuring Pekka and the net with three goals at 8:04, 13:02, and 16:19. L.A.’s first goal was a tip-in by Dustin Penner for his 6th goal of the season. The second goal was snared by Dwight King, his 4th goal of the season. The third goal was sealed by Kyle Clifford for his 5th goal of the season.
  • Mike Fisher would attempt to regain composure for the Predators at 17:18 with a backhanded goal for his 22nd goal of the season, but it just wasn’t enough to derail the Kings’ momentum. Fisher’s goal was assisted by Kevin Klein (12th assist) and Martin Erat (37th assist).
  • Pekka Rinne took a beating Saturday night, although he did block 23 of 27 shots taken at him and the net. It was cracks in the Predators defense that the Kings took advantage of, knocking the Nashville team on their butts during the third period. The Predators were able to snag a power play goal and managed to stay away from the penalty box, minus three times. Here are the three culprits:
  1. Jordin Tootoo – 15:01 2nd Period – Interference
  2. Jack Hillen – 2:02 3rd Period – Hi-Sticking
  3. Brandon Yip – 18:21 3rd Period – Holding

It was clear the Predators did not expect the L.A. Kings to come tearing onto the ice as maniacally as they did during the third period, thus resulting in the 4-2 loss in regulation. The Predators have no time to sulk in misery, though; They will cross the street (basically) into Anaheim to face the Ducks on Sunday. The Predators have muscled-over the Ducks all season, so a final win would boost the team as they return to Nashville on Tuesday. After a nasty loss like tonight, the Predators will have to put forth an effort that, although the Ducks aren’t contenders, they can’t be overlooked.

The puck drops in Anaheim at 7PM.

Until then,
GO PREDS.

(Photo credit of: Noah Graham/NHLI via Getty Images)