Thursday, April 9, 2009

Still Alive

The Preds came back from the brink of a loss that would have all but ended their playoff hopes by beating the Evil Empire 4-3 in a shootout. Down 3-2, the Preds scored with 59 seconds left to tie the game at three. Pekka Rinne was stellar again in the shootout, stopping three of four Detroit shooters, while Ville Koistinen scored the goal to extend the shootout. Jason Arnott had a monster game, capping it off by beating Osgood five hole for the winner. With the win, the Preds now have 88 points and sit in the 8th spot in the Western Conference by advantage of the tie breaker over St. Louis, who plays tomorrow night. The Preds finish their season tomorrow night in the Xcel Energy Center against the Minnesota Wild.

This game was not for the faint of heart. The odds were stacked against the Predators: coming off a disheartening loss to Chicago; playing without key players; playing in a barn that had been one of the toughest for the Preds to get a win and against a solid opponent. Well, the odds be damned. This is a team that defied the odds, a team that wouldn't quit, a team that exhibited heart, grit, and character all night. After falling behind 1-0, Scott Nichol recorded his first goal since returning to play from a concussion to tie the game at 1. The Preds fell behind 3-1 after Nick Lidstrom scored on a power play and Johan Franzen scored after the Preds turned the puck over in their zone. Jason Arnott scored to bring the Preds back to 3-2, and with 59 seconds left, Joel Ward scored off a rebound in a goal mouth scramble. This set up the Captain's shoot out heroics, and the Preds came away with two points that were essential to keeping their playoff hopes alive. Pekka Rinne kept the Preds in the game all night, most critically turning away Pavel Datsyuk from point blank range in overtime. With this win, the Preds for the first time take a season series from Detroit with a 4-2 record.

Tonight the Preds left it all on the ice, playing with desperation and grit. Look at this team, and you see heart personified. Look at this team, and you see a group of guys that have been bred to compete, bred to do what it takes to win. Tomorrow night, they have to summon up the heart, the will, the grit to win again. The odds are against you, boys. You have defied those odds all season. Defy them one more time.

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