In what turns out to be a historical night for the Nashville Predators, it had as storybook of a conclusion as you could draw up. The Predators advanced to the second round of the playoffs with a 4-2 win over Anaheim tonight, defeating the Ducks in six games and the guy who sealed the win with his empty net goal was none other than the franchise’s first draft pick David Legwand.
Legwand’s empty netter sent the fans in Nashville into a wild frenzy after the Predators scored twice in the third period to seal the win. The hero of the game was none other than Jordin Tootoo. We lauded Tootoo’s story the other day in our Five Thoughts and he continues to prove himself as a tenacious forward. The only difference this time around is he’s cutting out the questionable nonsense and just helping to score goals. Tootoo had two assists, each coming on goals by mostly unknown grinder foward Nick Spaling. Spaling’s second goal in the third period proved to be the game winner.
Steve Sullivan also scored for the Preds while Pekka Rinne settled down nicely after a few rough games in the series to hold down the fort today in saving 25 shots. The Preds were able to survive goals from Teemu Selanne and Jason Blake who both had huge playoffs for Anaheim, Selanne especially as he score six goals in the series himself, but it wasn’t enough for the Ducks.
For Nashville, they’re the second Western Conference team to advance to the playoffs joining Detroit. As the fifth seed in the West, their next opponent as yet is unknown. One thing’s for sure, they’re emboldened by advancing to the second round and shaking that monkey off their back as they’ve never advanced past the first round in any previous playoff run. They’ve gone from the perpetual pain in the butt opponent in the postseason to one that’s a definite threat to advance to the Stanley Cup final.
For Anaheim they’ll be left wondering what might’ve been had Jonas Hiller been healthy. With Hiller in goal, there’s no doubt the Ducks would’ve been a tougher team to deal with and given the problems the Ducks had with their defense in this series Hiller’s ability to stop most anything would’ve come in handy. Having to rely on a rusty Ray Emery as well as Dan Ellis put them at a disadvantage. The Ducks’ offense was solid and was able to help make Pekka Rinne look ordinary at times, but their defense did them no favors.
We’d be remiss to say that we’re hopeful this wasn’t the last time we’ll see Teemu Selanne in an NHL game. With how he’s played in the regular season and again in the playoffs, Teemu’s still got it. He’s more than capable of producing at a high level in the NHL and if this is the way he decides to go out, we’ll be proud of what he’s done and sad to see him leave the game.
Nashville will now wait things out to see how things shake out in the Western Conference playoffs and if there’s one thing that’s for sure, no one wants to deal with the Predators next.