There seems to be some division regarding whether the Detroit Red Wings would serve as a scary first-round opponent in the 2014 playoffs or not, but the Red Wings improved their chances of at least making it that far after a highly successful weekend.
(Gustav Nyquist illustrated why some believe the Red Wings are dangerous in a very dramatic way today.)
One day after giving the Toronto Maple Leafs a crushing loss, the Red Wings beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2 on Sunday.
With that, the Red Wings will remain at least two points ahead of the wild card pack at the end of today and hold that first wild card spot, making them the Eastern Conference’s seventh-ranked team.
Detroit holds a two-point lead (84 to 82) over the Columbus Blue Jackets for the top wild card spot, although Columbus holds a game in hand. Most importantly to a team trying to keep its playoff streak alive, the Red Wings have a four-point lead against the plummeting Maple Leafs while the Washington Capitals (80 points, one game in hand on Detroit) face the Nashville Predators on Sunday.
Even with that win against fellow Atlantic team Tampa Bay today, the Red Wings can pretty much keep their sights set on holding off Columbus, Washington, Toronto, New Jersey and the rest of the East’s potential usurpers.
As far as the Lightning go, they seem that much more likely to be the Atlantic’s third seed, as the Montreal Canadiens have two more standings points (although Tampa Bay holds a game in hand there).
Keith Urban sang the national anthem for Game 3. Kelly Clarkson did the honors for the Nashville Predators before Game 4. Next up: Trisha Yearwood for Game 6.
The Predators hope to close out the Anaheim Ducks on Monday, and they got off to a nice start with Austin Watson scoring a quick 1-0 goal. Not long after, the Predators added another to build to a 2-0 lead.
Garth Brooks spoiled Yearwood’s appearance a bit before the contest.
Brooks also revealed Yearwood’s early fan creds:
Anaheim Ducks forward Nick Ritchie scored a goal in Game 4, but he won’t be able to provide such a scoring boost for his team in Game 6.
That’s because he was ejected during the first period after hitting rising Nashville Predators star Viktor Arvidsson from behind, bloodying the slick Swede.
Ritchie was whistled for a game misconduct and major. Remarkably, the Ducks killed the entire five-minute power-play opportunity, with Ryan Kesler‘s shorthanded chance being one of the better opportunities for either team.
It’s still a big blunder, but if the Ducks can get back in it, remember that big kill.
Video of the hit is coming soon. For now, check out the GIF:
Oddly, Arvidsson left the ice with a wound that more or less spelled out “R,” presumably for Ritchie, maybe celebrating the return of “Twin Peaks.”
(Such an obvious move might not be surreal enough for David Lynch, though. Alex Prewitt’s Zorro reference might be more, um, on the mark.)
It was already loud at Bridgestone Arena, but the Nashville Predators are making it a madhouse with a strong start against the Anaheim Ducks in Game 6.
First, it was Austin Watson, who sent a puck off a Ducks skate to score a 1-0 goal on Nashville’s first shot on Jonathan Bernier, who is starting instead of John Gibson. That came about 90 seconds into the game, really revving up the crowd.
Colton Sissons scored his first goal of the Western Conference Final – on his first shot on goal of the series – to make it 2-0. At that point, Bernier had allowed two goals on three shots on goal. Bernier’s made a few stops since then, but it’s a shaky start for a Ducks team facing elimination.
There’s some solace in that Anaheim’s often at its best in dire situations, though you have to wonder how many times they can bounce back from this?
The Anaheim Ducks won’t have John Gibson back, but the Nashville Predators are dealing with some injury-related letdowns, too.
Craig Smith skated before Game 6, but he opted not to play on Monday. Mike Fisher is also unable to go for the Predators as they aim to eliminate Anaheim.
The Ducks also won’t have Rickard Rakell back in the mix, so this physical Western Conference Final continues to feel like a battle of attrition.
Click here for the official roster report.
Game 5 is airing on NBCSN right now. You can watch online and via the NBC Sports App.
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