The Nashville Predators are a resilient bunch and that trait has the upstart NHL team two games away from winning the Stanley Cup.
On Monday night in Music City, the feisty Predators roared back from a two-game deficit to knot the championship series at two and will be headed back to Pittsburgh with momentum and a full head of steam.
Facing what was essentially a must-win situation, the Predators and Penguins engaged in a tight game that was tied at one after the first period.
Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne was outstanding in keeping the Predators in the game by stopping a series of scoring opportunities with death-defying moves in the net. Rinne’s heroics included making an epic save on a Chris Kunitz breakaway in the second period.
Sixteen seconds after the big stop, Predators center Frederick Gaudreau scored on a wraparound goal that stood up after an official review – the second such review that saved a Nashville goal.
Winger Viktor Arvidsson beat Penguins goalie Matt Murray later in the period for a 3-1 lead that the Predators would never relinquish.
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) June 6, 2017
Filip Forsberg added another goal late in the third period for the final 4-1 score.
The raucous crowd at Bridgestone Arena went berserk as the Predators pulled even in the series. If Nashville is able to win on the road at PPG Paints arena in Pittsburgh on Thursday, they could win it all before their home fans on Sunday.
— Nashville Predators (@PredsNHL) June 6, 2017
After two shaky games to start the series, Rinne has been lights out and no more so than last night. He only gave up a breakaway goal to superstar center Sidney Crosby in the first period before locking down the net for the rest of the game.
The city of Nashville aka Smashville is enthralled with their Predators and the celebrations could last for days if they are able to finish the job.
Once the butt of jokes including one by former late night kingpin David Letterman who quipped that “Hockey in the deep south? They don’t know anything about ice unless it’s what they’re putting in their sweet iced tea’” and “That’ll be the only arena in the country where the fans have less teeth than the players” but the Predators are now two games away from the mountaintop.
Rabid Nashville fans have even come up with a unique variation on the Detroit Red Wings fans longtime ritual of throwing an octopus on the ice during the playoffs.
— For The Win (@ForTheWin) June 5, 2017
Not a bad run for a team with the worst record in the playoff field but that’s what is so great about the NHL postseason, a hot goalie is an equalizer against even the most formidable of teams.
The Predators have seized the momentum now and the defending champs are on their heels.
Game five will start at 8 PM ET on Thursday night.