For the first time in franchise history, the Nashville Predators are headed to the Western Conference Finals.
In Game 6 of the series, the Predators defeated the Blues, 3-1. And the home crowd, as the kids say, was ‘lit.’
Kevin Fiala, who broke his leg in Game 1 against the St. Louis Blues, was on hand to whip the Nashville crowd into a frenzy following the anthem by multi-Grammy award winning group, Lady Antebellum.
The Preds didn’t appear to get the memo that the game had started for real.
Two minutes in, Austin Watson gets the puck and appears to attempt to get it out of the zone with the softest pass in the history of hockey. Colton Parayko easily intercepts. The Blues skate circles around the Preds before Vladimir Tarasenko sends a shot on net. The puck bounces off Pekka Rinne’s pad and lands behind the netminder’s skate where Paul Stastny punches it in. Blues up 1-0.
The sleepy Predators could not get anything going despite having two power plays to work off of. The first period ended with the Blues leading, 1-0.
Nashville pounded a double espresso (or something) during intermission because they came out awake.
Thirty five seconds into the second period, Mattias Ekholm fired a cross-ice pass to a waiting Roman Josi. The defenseman blasts a one-timer past Jake Allen to tie it up.
The Preds power play continued to struggle, getting another two opportunities with the extra man in the second, and coming up empty each time.
For the fourth time in six games, the Blues and Predators entered tied in the third period.
The physicality continued as Ryan Reaves plastered PK Subban. The Preds defenseman went back to the bench in pain, but would return to play. Reaves was not penalized.
The Preds took the lead early in the third.
Nashville caught St. Louis pinching. Viktor Arvidsson received a pass in the neutral zone and beat Jay Bouwmeester. Arvidsson, managed to hold up just slightly to buy time for a streaking Ryan Johansen.
Johansen beat Colton Parayko, then beat Jake Allen on the backhand. Preds go up, 2-1.
With the Blues pinching, the Preds had multiple chances in on a breakaway, but could not convert.
Mike Yeo opted to keep David Perron’s butt stapled to the bench for all but one shift late in the third period. Perron had received two penalties earlier in the game.
The Blues pulled Allen with 2:20 left in the period.
With exactly one minute left on the clock, Calle Jarnkrok put the nail in the coffin of the Blues, scoring the empty net goal to seal it at 3-1.
Nashville punches its first-ever ticket to the Western Conference Final.
The Predators now await the winner of the Anaheim Ducks, Edmonton Oilers. The Ducks lead the series 3-2, and attempt to close it out in Edmonton at 7:00pm Sunday night.