Thursday, April 23, 2015

Predators Hold Off Elimination, Blast the Blackhawks 5-2

With their backs against the wall, the Nashville Predators were attempting to do something that had never been done in their playoff history.

Stave off elimination on their home ice.

The Predators met the Chicago Blackhawks in a do or die game 5 at Bridgestone Arena with the Hawks leading the series 3-1.

Goals by Brad Richards and Filip Forsberg left the teams knotted at 1 at the end of the first period.

After a scoreless second period, the Predators attacked the Hawks and got them back on their heels in the third period. James Neal beat Scott Darling on a wraparound. Colin Wilson scored a beauty on the power play over the shoulder of Darling. Just 22 seconds later, Filip Forsberg beat Darling to make it 4-1.

Kris Versteeg cut the Predators lead to 4-2 with a goal at 14:42, and Predators fans couldn't rest easy just yet.

The game was settled when Filip Forsberg tallied an empty netter for the hat trick to seal a 5-2 win for the good guys.

Some observations:

  • Good to see Mike Fisher back in the line up. The Preds desperatley need his leadership and play on the ice.
  • I love Pekka Rinne and his compete level and the way he plays the game. He made some great saves in the first period, but he has to stop that goal he gave up. The Predators need him to shut everything down and that was one he couldn't give up.
  • The fact that Filip Forsberg isn't even a finalist for the Calder Trophy is criminal. Forsberg showed with his sweet goal why he should not only have been a finalist but should have won the award. Oh yeah, he went on to score two more goals for the hat trick.
  • NBC reported that Shea Weber has a torn ACL. No confirmation about the injury from the team.
  • If the Predators had played this attacking style of hockey over the last 20 games... Wow, they just keep coming at the net. I like it, and I hope they carry this style of play over to a full 82 games next season.
  • James Neal has played the last two games like the team hoped he would. He has been strong on the puck, active, and dynamic in the offensive zone. His wrap around goal was pure hustle and desire to get to the net. This is what the Predators have to have from Neal if they are going to win games.
  • Colin Wilson! Wilson has come alive in the playoffs and tallied his 5th goal of the series with a beautiful power play goal over the shoulder of Scott Darling. 4 of Wilson's 5 goals in this series have come on the power play.
  • Welcome back, Mike Fisher. A nice goal just 22 seconds after Colin Wilson had scored, Fisher gives the crowd a treat with his Frosty goal. You cannot underestimate the impact of Fisher on this team. He is a leader on and off the ice, and his tough, gritty style of play inspires his teammates.
  • Viktor Stalberg continues to play a strong game. Neal's goal was a direst result of Stalberg's work on the forecheck, forcing a turnover that Neal was able to bury. This is the kind of play that that Stalberg has to bring every night, and the Predators have benefited from his effort.
  • For the first time in the history of the team, the Predators held off elimination on their home ice.
Predators fans had to wonder about the emotional state of this team after a couple of tough losses in this series.

Wonder no more.

This team showed heart and fight all night long. They didn't quit. They battled from start to finish to stay alive in the series.

This is just one game, but you can only play one game at a time.

Now they have to play one more game.

Just like this one.

And bring it back to the Bridge for a game 7.

My three stars:

1. Filip Forsberg

2. James Neal

3. Pekka Rinne

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