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Preds Own #1 Seeded Blackhawks to Make History | Predators

Hello, Fellow Predators Fans!

Welcome to the most exciting time of the year—the NHL playoffs! I am immensely hopeful that our guys will play at their highest level and can take it to that team in red (otherwise known as the Chicago Blackhawks) in this first round. It is a best-of seven games series and is sure to be thrilling. Hold on to your hats—here we go!

Round 1

Game 1 was Thursday at the United Center in #1 goaltenders for both teams between the pipes in Pekka Rinne and Corey Crawford. The only key player out with injury was Colin Wilson for the Preds, out day-to-day with a lower body injury. Nashville managed to keep the Hawks off the scoreboard in the first two periods with outstanding play by Pekka, and did get out ahead in the 1st on a goal by fan favorite Viktor Arvidsson. In the 3rd, the game remained fast-paced, but produced no goals. At about 2 minutes remaining, the Hawks pulled out Crawford for the extra attacker, and the Preds stepped up their defense to hold on for the 1-0 win, stealing Game 1 from their rivals on their home ice. Pekka Rinne played brilliantly, stopping all 29 of Chicago’s shots. Awesome!

Round 2

Game 2 was Saturday night in Chicago with the Predators having claimed the opening game and a 1-0 lead in the series. Rinne and Crawford were both back in goals for this nationally televised game. It was fast and gritty from the puck drop with both teams all in. The Preds struck first with a goal by defenseman Ryan Ellis to get things going early. Shortly into the 2nd period, Harry Zolnierczyk lit the lamp for the Preds, putting our guys up 2-0. Then with 7 minutes left in the 2nd, Colton Sissons caught a rebound in front of the Hawk’s net and stuck it in to make it a 3-zip Nashville lead! With about 6 minutes left in regulation, Ryjo (Ryan Johansen) buried one to make it 4-0….Wow! The amazing win was punctuated with a last –minute power play goal by Kevin Fiala to make it 5-0. It was a fantastic win for the Preds, with Rinne notching his second-in-a-row shutout of the dreaded Blackhawks….Woohoo! The Preds took a 2-0 lead in the series with them for the trip back home to Smashville for Games 3 and 4 next week.

Round 3

With that 2-0 series lead against the top-ranked team in the conference and arguably the league, the Predators returned home on Monday night for Game 3. Bridgestone Arena was electric; the crowd was on fire! Pekka Rinne was in goal again across the ice from Corey Crawford. It was all defense in the opening segment of play, and no score resulted. But early in the 2nd, Chicago got on the scoreboard for the first time this series, ending Rinne’s amazing feat of holding the Hawks scoreless for 141 minutes in this series. Then with 11:15 left on the clock in the 2nd, winger Patrick Kane, perhaps the Hawks’ biggest offensive weapon, sailed one past Pekka, and suddenly, we were looking at a 2-0 Blackhawks lead on the jumbotron. It was a much quieter crowd for the reminder of that period, but when our guys returned to the ice after the 2nd intermission, it was as if they knew things were about to shift. Only 4 ½ minutes in, Filip Forsberg lit the lap on the Hawks’ net and lit a fire in the team and fans as well. It seemed that everyone in the arena knew that they WOULD tie the score, and sure as shootin’ (Southern expression)…with about 6 minutes left in regulation, Forsberg put in another winner, and the game was tied at 2 each. The crowd “went ape” as Predators’ radio voice Pete Weber often is heard to say. The game proceeded to overtime in dramatic style. The OT clock was set at 20 minutes, as there are different overtime rules for the playoffs—-(20 minutes OT periods stacked one after another as long as it takes for a score; no 3-on-3; no shootouts.) This one went well into the extra period, and with 3:16 left, James Neal hit Kevin Fiala with a perfect pass in front of Crawford, and sank it for the win…..3-2, Preds! The come-from-behind, overtime victory could not have been sweeter, and gave Nashville a BEAUTIFUL 3-0 series lead over their rivals, putting them in need of only 1 more win to advance to Round 2!

Knockout Round

Game 4 was in Smashville on Thursday night with the city and Bridgestone Arena rockin’ with anticipation. Chicago was in an elimination game (which is an unfamiliar place for them this early in the playoffs.) Both #1 goalies were defending the nets for Nashville and Chicago. There was no score in the opening period nor for the first half of the 2nd. Then, defenseman Roman Josi rattled the net strings to give the Predators a 1-0 lead which held through the period. In the 3rd, it was all Predators early with goals by Viktor Arviddson and another by Josi putting Nashville up 3-0. The Hawks did get a single puck by Rinne (who played yet another spectacular game) when Jonathan Toews scored a power play goal with less than 6 minutes remaining. Then Arvy sailed in an empty-net goal to put the Preds up 4-1, and seal the victory in the game and end the series with a 4-0 sweep!

Historical Series

The Predators completed their first series sweep in franchise history, and became the only #8 seeded team in NHL history to sweep a #1 seeded team in 4 games! Led by solid play from their defense and their much talked-about “JoFA” line, (Johansen, Forsberg, and Arvidsson,) as well as a stellar performance by Pekka Rinne in goal (he stopped a jaw-dropping 123 out of 126 shots in this series verses the top-ranked team in the Western Conference—–not too shabby!) The Predators and their fans are elated and await the Preds’ opponent in Round 2 which is yet to be determined….(winner of the series between the Minnesota Wild and the St. Louis Blues.) Be sure to stay tuned for all the excitement as our Nashville Predators move forward in their quest for the Stanley Cup!

Go, Preds!

 

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Debra Murray is a weekly contributing writer for MVP Sports Channel (and die-hard fan of the Nashville Predators).

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