Little brother topples big brother; the franchise that has existed for only a few more years than the other has cups ended up coming out on top; the expansion team defeated the team with deepest history; the Nashville Predators eliminated the Detroit Red Wings 4-1 in round one with a 2-1 victory Friday night in Bridgestone Arena.
The Nashville Predators will advance to the second round for consecutive years, this time poignantly taking down the team that they have revered and simultaneously loathed for years.
Bridgestone Arena was rocking. The noise got up to over 100 decibels several times throughout the game. Nashville’s fans have been patient through the years leading up to this season, trusting the front office would be able to put together a consistent winner to compete for the Stanley Cup when given enough time and resources. All of that waiting came through in an explosion.
Last year, the Predators made it out of the first round for the very first time. This year, the Predators defeated one of their biggest rivals and, in the process, look to be one of the toughest outs in hockey right now.
Game five was a battle; from the moment the puck dropped it was clear that Nashville wanted blood, and Detroit was in full-on desperation mode. The team that wanted it most would have to claw its way to victory.
Early in the first period, it seemed as though the referees were going to try to keep this game under their own control, calling a penalty on each team within the first seconds of the game. Fortunately, after each penalty had offset, this was no longer the case and the fans in Smashville got to enjoy a well-played hockey game.
In each game this series it has been the team who scored first that would eventually be the winner. That statistic was very good news after David Legwand scraped out a pass from behind the net, right out front to Alexander Radulov who got his first goal in the playoffs to give Nashville the early 1-0 advantage.
Nashville’s lead would be sustained for the rest of the first period, as Pekka Rinne had yet another fantastic game for the Predators, and even the clean shots weren’t even close with Rinne guarding the net.
Jiri Hudler would tie the game for Detroit at the 13:45 point of the second period with a goal that was assisted by Valtteri Filppula and Henrik Zetterberg. The second period was Detroit’s period, as Nashville did not manage a goal, making the game tied 1-1 at the end of the second.
Just 13 seconds into the third period, David Legwand scored the go-ahead goal that would make the game 2-1 in favor of Nashville, the score that would be sustained in Nashville’s victory. Gabriel Bourque drew the attention of several Red Wings, including Jimmy Howard, as he came around the side of the net and found Radulov, who then kicked the puck out front to Legwand, who was able to get the puck past Howard while Howard’s vision was blocked by a Bourque screen.
Detroit had one last chance to tie the game with 4.2 seconds left when they won a faceoff in Nashville’s end after an icing call that was inches away from being wiped off by Sergei Kostitsyn’s hustle down ice. Ultimately, Shea Weber, public enemy No. one in Detroit during this first round, was able to seal the victory for Nashville by knocking the puck away as time rattled off.
Every single playoff series in Nashville Predators playoff history has ended in Nashville. This season marked the first season that Nashville has ever finished ahead of Detroit in the standings and was also the earliest playoff exit for the Red Wings since 2006.
The Predators will now play the waiting game to see who they will face in round two. Although the other series are all 3-1, it is still too early to speculate when Preds fans have a party to throw tonight.
Four down, twelve to go. This season is far from over Nashville.