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VOL. 41 | NO. 21 | Friday, May 26, 2017

Top 10 Predator moments (so far) of 2017

By John Glennon

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With the Predators preparing for their first trip to the Stanley Cup Final, it’s difficult to recall that this team began the playoffs with very few expectations six weeks ago.

In three playoff series’ since then, the eighth-seeded Preds have knocked off three higher seeds in the Western Conference – Chicago, St. Louis and Anaheim.

Here’s a look back at 10 of the top memories from the Predators’ history-making playoff run:

Preds blank Blackhawks

The Predators may not have wowed many observers during the regular season, but they put the hockey world on notice by shutting out top-seeded Chicago – twice – at the United Center in Games 1 and 2. The first game was a 1-0 squeaker, the second was a 5-0 spanking in front of a stunned Blackhawks fan base.

Critical comeback

For two periods of Game 3 against Chicago, it looked as if the Blackhawks might work their way back into the series. They took a 2-0 lead over the Predators into the third period. But Filip Forsberg scored twice to send the contest into overtime, and Kevin Fiala scored 16:44 into the extra session to give the Preds a commanding 3-0 series advantage.

Bring out the brooms

The Predators wasted no time in dispatching the Blackhawks, eliminating Chicago in Game 4 with a 4-1 victory. Roman Josi scored two goals and the Preds became just the third team since 1974-75 to sweep the team with the conference’s best record in the opening round.

Striking fast

For the second straight series, the Predators struck first on enemy ice, downing host St. Louis 4-3 in Game 1 of the second round.

On the same night the Preds lost Fiala for the remainder of the playoffs with a broken leg, it was an unlikely hero – Vern Fiddler – who poked home the tie-breaking, game-winning goal with 5:05 left in the third period.

The `D’ delivers

Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis played a huge role in a 2-1 victory in Game 4 that gave Nashville a 3-1 lead in the series. Near the end of the second period, Ellis used his hand to help clear a puck from the crease just before it headed over the goal line. Early in the third period, Ellis opened the scoring, extending his points streak to seven games.

Bye-bye, Blues

Given the chance to eliminate a Central Division rival on home ice for the second straight round, the Predators did just that. Ryan Johansen, acquired to be the Preds’ first-line center, certainly played the part in Game 6 – scoring the game-winning goal on a nifty move early in the third period.

Road warriors

In what had become a pattern, the visiting Predators stole home-ice advantage away for the third straight series, downing Anaheim 3-2 in the first game of the Western Conference Final.

James Neal was the hero in this one, as he scored 9:24 into overtime, blasting a slap shot that deflected off an Anaheim defenseman and fell behind sprawled goalie John Gibson.

Comeback kids

Trailing 1-0 heading into the third period of Game 3 against Anaheim, the Predators fought back for a thrilling 2-1 victory.

Forsberg tied the game early in the third period and Josi won it, scoring on a power-play rebound with just 2:43 remaining. It marked the first time Anaheim had lost in the playoffs when leading after two periods.

Against all odds

The Predators took a 3-2 series lead into Game 6 last Monday, but Nashville was playing its second straight game without the team’s top two centers – Johansen and team captain Mike Fisher.

The Ducks controlled large portions of the contest, outshooting the Preds 41-18. But the Preds proved more efficient, winning the game 6-3 and the series 4-2 thanks to three goals from Colton Sissons and two from Austin Watson.

I’ll pass, thanks

The Predators’ series-clinching win over Anaheim meant the team was awarded the Clarence Campbell Bowl as Western Conference champions.

Though it was an emotional moment for the players at Bridgestone Arena, not a one of them touched the trophy. It’s a superstition many NHL players have followed over the years.

If you’re going to lift a trophy, wait for the Stanley Cup.

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