How the west was won. After tonight’s tilt between the Nashville Predators and the Colorado Avalanche, we now know every western conference team playing in the semi-finals. This was a more exciting game than the score would have indicated, filled with pretty goals, heavy hits, and big saves this game had it all. Andrew Hammond (The Hamburgler) was back in net for the Avs and Pekka Rinne was holding the fort for the Preds as they squared off in the second elimination game of the series. The fans in the Pepsi Center were loud for the duration of the game, and the scoring would start early.
Kicking off the period the Preds thought they had a goal thirteen minutes into the game as Kyle Turris bumped Hammond allowing the rebound to be deposited into the open cage. However upon video review the call was called no goal due to goaltender interference, but the Preds were very much undeterred by this bad break. Literally fifteen seconds later they would strike first officially and it would be their first goal by a defenceman in the series. It would be Mattias Ekholm who would receive the pass from Sissons and walk into a clapper that beat a screened Hammond on the glove side for a 1-0 lead. Then three minutes later the Preds would strike again, this time courtesy of Austin Watson. The Preds put on a passing clinic that would result in Sissons getting around Hammond and sliding the puck off the post, which would find it’s way to Watson for a tap in and the 2-0 lead. Nashville would double up on Colorado in shots 14-7 in the period, but the Avs were far from out of this game… Or were they?
The Second period didn’t exactly go Colorado’s way either. Though the shots were closer at 10-9 Nashville, the Avs were still behind on the score sheet by twice as much. It would only take thirty-eight seconds into the period for Comeau to turn the puck over to Filip Forsberg. Now on a two on one the Preds winger had options but ultimately decided to shoot it, a good decision as it turns out as he’d sneak the puck under the left arm of Hammond for a 3-0 lead. The Preds weren’t done there either as they’d add to their lead eight minutes later. On yet another offensive clinic by the Preds, Jarnkrok would find Nick Bonino wide open in the slot, and he’d beat Hammond under the right arm for the 4-0 lead. Tempers began to flare as the Avs took penalty after penalty, so much so that they never had a powerplay all game long. They even took a ten minute misconduct penalty at the end of the period, putting them down a defenceman going into the third.
At this point down 4-0 the Avs could only really hope to beat Rinne to give the home crowd something to cheer about. There would in fact be a goal in the third, but it wasn’t exactly one that would make the home crowd happy as it was once again scored by the Preds. Only two and a half minutes into the third Viktor Arvidsson would receive a beautiful stretch pass by Subban. With his hand halfway down his stick he still scored on the breakaway giving the Preds a 5-0 lead. The Avs came close to breaking the shutout but were called for goaltender interference keeping them off the score sheet. The Avs would be out shot in the final frame 13-6, and in the game as a whole 37-22, and Rinne stopped all 22 shots directed towards him. Recording his fourth career playoff shutout Rinne and the Preds would win the game 5-0, and the series 4-2. The Preds will play the Winnipeg Jets in the semi-final, date TBD.