For the first time in franchise history, the Nashville Predators earned an overtime playoff victory. For the first time in franchise history, the Nashville Predators managed three wins in a playoff series.
It was a big night for Smashville, claiming a 3-2 series lead over the Anaheim Ducks with a 4-3 overtime victory in Anaheim behind the late-game heroics of Shea Weber and Jerred Smithson.
Words cannot give full justice to the magnitude of what this victory means for Smashville. Also, I still have not managed to stop jumping around and high-fiving (and fist-bumping for the “cooler” people) everyone I possibly can. So apologies in advanced if it seems as if Tarzan wrote this article—I literally am unable to calm down. That was, by far, the single most significant victory of the Predators young history, and if they are able to win Sunday, it will become the second-most important.
You know those commercials where they show some clip of something incredible from the playoffs in previous years and you get chills, even when it isn’t “your” team? That’s what this moment felt like, except magnified times a billion because it was our hometown heroes, and because nothing like this has ever happened to Nashville (at least in hockey anyway).
I can’t even give a full recap of the game. For one, because I am so overjoyed and excited after this game. For another, I actually had a full recap written out and computer froze and I lost it. So let’s just jump in to the exciting part for now: the third period and overtime. I’ll start by saying that both teams were tied up 1-1 heading to the third, with Kevin Klein and Jason Blake scoring for the Preds and Ducks respectively. Also, it is important to note that the entire game was played with a ferocious intensity by both teams, an intensity that carried on for every second. This game represents everything that makes playoff hockey amazing.
A mere 40 seconds into the third period, Bobby Ryan (who was making his return from a two-game suspension for stomping the skate of Jonathan Blum) picked off a pass from David Legwand and raced ahead for the unassisted goal that gave Anaheim a 2-1 lead, and really brought the crowd to life (and they were already making plenty of noise as it was).
Joel Ward pulled Nashville even at 11:20 in the third with his third goal of the postseason, and helped to calm things down in the game and give the Predators some momentum. This, however, was squandered about three minutes later, when Jason Blake scored for the second time in the game to give Anaheim a 4-3 lead. The roof just about blew off the place; the crowd erupted and sensed the moment, and how critical it was for Anaheim to hold on to the win.
Fortunately, however, Nashville had different plans. With just over a minute left in the game, Pekka Rinne came out for Nashville to have an advantage and hopefully have a prayer answered. This is where Shea Weber stepped up and delivered one of the most beautiful shots of his career with only 36 seconds left in regulation, getting the goal in traffic and forcing overtime.
In overtime, Nashville came out aggressive, looking to get the hell out of there with a stolen win and gain the first ever 3-2 in franchise history. In a single sequence, fan-favorite Jordin Tootoo got two (too?) shots on net, rebounding his first miss and tapping his second one out for the second of the night’s two (tootoo? Too soon? Tootoo? Bad joke?) dramatic shots—this time by Jerrod Smithson.
Nashville notched the victory without the help of 50-goal scorer Martin Erat, who suffered an upper-body injury in game four. It is not clear what his status is for game six.
The Predators will return to Smashville on Sunday looking to close out the Ducks and earn their first ever playoff series victory. This will be no small task, however, as Anaheim has proven to be a very worthy opponent, already winning once in Nashville this series.
Weber and Smithson will no-doubt be treated to wild applause when they take the ice on Sunday. They earned it. The Predators made history with Friday’s victory…Nashville making history—sounds odd, but I sure could get used to it. Go Preds!