The Nashville Predators had never played in a Game 7 before last night’s game against the Ducks and they didn’t disappoint. In a do-or-die game, the Preds managed to knock off arguably the best team in the NHL since Jan. 1, and they did it on the road.
These are the moments that teams with limited playoff success can build from going forward.
“It’s a big step,” Predators head coach Peter Laviolette said of winning Game 7, per the Tennessean. “If you don’t take this one step, you can’t take any more steps. That makes this a really big night for our guys and our team. When you’re faced with these situations, you’re either going home or you’re moving on and playing hockey and continuing (to) fight for the (Stanley) Cup. It was a big night.”
Of course, moving on to the second round doesn’t guarantee them anything besides another difficult matchup against a tough opponent (San Jose). Like in their last series against the Ducks, most will pick against the Predators and it looks like they’ve noticed.
After last night’s win over the Ducks, the Predators social media team had a quirky response to ESPN’s second round predictions.
The Sharks won’t be an easy out, but the Preds are just happy to still be alive and kicking.
“It means we get a chance to play again,” forward James Neal said. “I think that’s all you can ask for is another chance and start Game 1 in San Jose and work from there. No guy wanted to be done playing hockey. We had a belief in this room that we could win this series. And we did.”
The Preds might not be favored in the series against the Sharks, but they showed that they can get the job done in crucial moments. If Nashville’s going to pull off the upset again, they’ll need repeat performances from goalie Pekka Rinne. It’s safe to say that the 33-year-old didn’t have his best season in 2015-16. But when the chips were down in Game 6 and 7, he stepped up.
As many hockey fans have witnessed, a hot goalie can take you a long way in the postseason.
To find out when their second-round series begins, click here.