The first round of the 2016 NHL Postseason came to a close Wednesday night culminating in a Nashville Predators first-ever Game Seven victory.
Led most notably by the valiant efforts of goaltender Pekka Rinne, Nashville escaped the Honda Center with 2-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks and now advance to the next round of the Western Conference playoffs against the San Jose Sharks.
Wednesday’s elimination game versus Anaheim was the first time in Predators franchise history that Music City’s NHL team had made it to a Game Seven in a playoff series. In fact, as noted by Jeremy K. Gover of the Nashville Predators Radio Network, only six players on the Preds’ 25 man roster had ever participated in a Game Seven at the NHL level.
These opportunities rarely present themselves, folks.
#Preds have 6 players on the roster who have played a Game 7 (Fisher, Ribeiro, Gaustad, Jackman, Neal, Nystrom). 1 win in 11 combined games.
— Ryan Porth (@PorthGame) April 26, 2016
“It’s a big step,” coach Peter Laviolette told the Associated Press after the victory. “If you can’t take this one step, you can’t take any more steps.”
Well, Coach, you certainly are not wrong. Thanks for the insight.
In all seriousness, trusting in the experience of Laviolette, now 5-1 in Game Seven situations, Nashville evaded an early exit. The Ducks, however, made the path to the second round anything but simple.
After losing the first two match-ups on their home ice, Anaheim rebounded ferociously to send the Predators on a three-game skid before losing the final two. Even down two goals Wednesday night, the Ducks dominated the final two periods of the series’ final game, outshooting the Preds 28-10.
The Anaheim onslaught made the efforts of Rinne, who struggled early in the first round, all the more heroic. The Predators’ goaltender notched 36 saves in the contest for a save percentage of .973.
Nashville’s second-series against San Jose begins almost immediately. Here is the schedule in its entirety:
Game 1: Predators at Sharks, Friday 4/29, 9:30 pm CT
Game 2: Predators at Sharks, Sunday 5/1, 7:00 pm CT
Game 3: Sharks at Predators, Tuesday 5/3, 8:00 pm CT
Game 4: Sharks at Predators, Thursday 5/5, 8:00 pm CT
Game 5: Predators at Sharks, Saturday 5/7, TBD*
Game 6: Sharks at Predators, Monday 5/9, TBD*
Game 7: Predators at Sharks, Thursday 5/12, TBD*
* If necessary