Clarksville, TN – The Nashville Predators lead the Chicago Blackhawks 3-0 in their Stanley Cup playoff series, and come Thursday night, history could be made in Smashville.
Could a mid-market NHL franchise actually “sweep” the legendary Blackhawks? Stanley Cup Champions?
Games one and two had been dominated by Predator’s goalie, Pekka Rinne. In a history making performance, Rinne held the Blackhawks scoreless in both games, as the Predators took both games.This set the stage for Monday night’s match up in Nashville. The city had been buzzing all day. Lower broadway was packed with fans. The honky tonks were jumping. Music was blaring. Beer was flowing. It was electric.
By the time Carrie Underwood took to the ice to sing the National Anthem, the sold out Bridgestone Arena was ready to explode.
The first period was much of the same that we had seen in games one and two. The Predators were aggressive, and the Blackhawks looked confused.
“Who are these guys Sundance?”
A scoreless first period gave fans all the excitement they could have asked for, especially a remarkable save by Pekka Rinne of a puck that took an incredibly awkward bounce off of the boards, and only the fully extended 6’5 frame of Rinne barely kept the puck out of the goal.
“What the hell just happened,” said every fan in attendance.
During the second period you could tell that Chicago was starting to get it’s “mojo” back. They started playing a similar game that Nashville had been playing, now the Predators were a bit confused. At the end of the period, Nashville was trailing, 2-0. Dennis Rasmussen and the hated Patrick Kane gave Chicago the lead.
Well, it was fun while it lasted. Or so we thought.
The Predators just needed to score a goal. Just get the first one, and break the ice. And with just over four minutes into the final frame, Filip Forsberg did just that.
As time was slipping away and the Blackhawks looked as though they were headed for the win, enter Mr. Forsberg again.
BOOM! GAME TIED.
And I thought it couldn’t get any louder in here.
Could we win it?
Teams tied at the end of regulation, 2-2. We’re headed for overtime.
The thing about overtime hockey is it’s sudden death. First team to score wins. Game over. Everybody have a good night. See you Thursday.
And the Predators have been HORRIBLE in overtime play this year, and while they don’t use the 3 on 3 format in the playoffs, you just didn’t feel that good about our chances when the puck dropped in the bonus period.
“O ye of little faith!”
Every one of the over 17,000 fans in the arena were on their feet. Time ticking down. At the blink of an eye this game will be over. Then with just over three minutes remaining, it happened. Nashville’s Kevin Fiala, on an assist from James Neal, found the back of the net. Final score, 3-2.
PREDS WIN! PREDS WIN! PREDS WIN! OH. MY. GOD!
So now the stage is set for game four on Thursday. Nashville will have the opportunity to absolutely shake the Hockey world in such a way that will be remembered for a long time. We have four games to win one.
I want the sweep.
I like our chances.