So we have lost our number one center and leading goal scorer. Oh, by the way, we lost our number two center to a freak accident in practice. Nevertheless, we put a patchwork lineup on the ice against the best team in hockey. And we endured horrific officiating. Never mind that the Sharks were 2 for 2 on their first two power plays. And the fact that the Sharks wanted to be physical and chippy all night long. All it took was 2:38 of the second period and the Preds captured a monstrous 3-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks to climb to 80 points and stay in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race. Radek Bonk, Martin Erat, and Greg Zanon tallied for the Preds in that 2:38 span to propel the Preds to a much needed victory. The Preds outplayed the Sharks five on five all night, and after some PK adjustments, shut down the Sharks PP to cement the win.
It would have been easy to pee on the fire and call the dogs home. We were hurt and shorthanded. We were playing the best team in hockey. The odds were against us. But how do you measure heart. What is your standard for jam and grit. Tonight we saw heart exhibited in all phases of the game. Pekka Rinne was his usual stellar self; the D held Joe Thornton and his line off the score sheet. Cal O'Reilly, thrust into a key role, played a solid game. You can go down the roster and call out every player's name- Ward, Nichol, Tootoo, the D corp- all these guys played in a way that should make Pred fans proud. These guys never quit. NEVER QUIT. Heart and character was on full display tonight, and heart won out. Talent did not.
Once again, cheers to the Predator fans for amping up your team. Your emotion and passion fueled this team. The 7th man is invaluable to this team, and your presence was felt tonight.Three more home games, and your enthusiasm and fervor are going to be needed.
The Preds are now tied for 7th with Anaheim, each with 80 points. As of this writing, Edmonton is trailing Phoenix 3-0 in the 3rd. This win puts the Preds back into the playoffs. There are eight critical games remaining. Our next opportunity is Saturday, with a special start time of 5:00 as we entertain the L.A. Kings. Heart and character must shine through again for the Preds.
*Gratuitous Animal House reference