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Flashback: Top Memories From the First 999 Games

Friday, 11.11.2011 / 11:08 AM / Nashville Predators History
By Bryan Mullen
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Flashback: Top Memories From the First 999 Games
With the Preds 1,000th franchise game on the horizon tomorrow evening (Nov. 12) against the Montreal Canadiens, NashvillePredators.com looks back at some of the memorable moments from the first 999 games in franchise history. Think we missed a moment? Click here to share your memories/thoughts.

First Goal, First Win -- Oct. 13, 1998
Two massive franchise milestones were achieved in the second regular-season game in the Nashville Predators’ inaugural season: the team’s first goal and the franchise’s first win. Former Pred (and current member of the Chicago Blackhawks) Andrew Brunette was credited with the Preds’ first tally at 5:12 of the first period. After a video review, fans got to enjoy “I Like It, I Love It” at Bridgestone Arena for the first time. Denny Lambert and J.J. Daigneault would also light the lamp for Nashville that night as the team pulled out a 3-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. All five of the game’s goals were scored in the first period, including a tally from Carolina’s Martin Gelinas, who now serves and the Predators Director of Player Development. Mike Dunham earned the win in net with 34 saves.


First Shutout In Franchise History
-- Jan. 15, 1999
After starting the Predators inaugural season third on the goaltending depth chart behind Mike Dunham and Eric Fichaud, Tomas Vokoun stopped all 31 shots he faced to author the first shutout in franchise history against the Phoenix Coyotes in the team’s 42nd game.

“We talked a lot about Dunham coming in, but Tomas Vokoun has come from almost nowhere," head coach Barry Trotz said. "We thought he'd be a good prospect, maybe after a year in Milwaukee. But he has been holding the ship afloat while Dunham's been hurt. We could be buried, 10-12 points out of a playoff spot. But Tomas has held the ship and kept us in games, like tonight."

Cliff Ronning, who started the season with the Coyotes, came back to haunt his former team by scoring a power-play goal in the first period, and sealed the deal with an empty netter at 19:01 of the third.

The then-22-year-old Vokoun was lights out in just the 15th start of his rookie season, withstanding 24 shots over the final two periods, which included stoning Juha Ylonen and Shane Doan on breakaways in the second frame.

"I was trying to think about winning first,” Vokoun said. “I first thought of the shutout when we got our second goal.”


Epic Nashville Draft -- June 21-22, 2003
This coming summer, the NHL Entry Draft takes place Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh. Eight summers ago, the hockey world convened in Nashville during the third weekend in June for the annual NHL Entry Draft. Over 13,000 fans attended the two-day event which had an estimated economic impact of nearly $10 million on Middle Tennessee.

Besides the memorable backdrop that Music City provided, the 2003 Draft looks to have offered one of the deepest talent pools in recent history. The Predators took full advantage. Nashville made 13 picks overall, including eight of the first 98 players selected, and took the opportunity to bolster the organizational blue line drafting defensemen Ryan Suter, Kevin Klein and Shea Weber.

Every single one of the first 33 picks in the draft have played in the NHL including superstars Dustin Brown (Los Angeles), Marc-Andre Fleury (Pittsburgh), Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim), Ryan Kesler (Vancouver), Zach Parise (New Jersey), Corey Perry (Anaheim), Dion Phaneuf (Calgary), Mike Richards (Philadelphia), Brent Seabrook (Chicago), Eric Staal (Carolina) and Thomas Vanek (Buffalo).

The ninth round alone - which doesn’t even exist anymore – saw the likes of U.S. Olympian Joe Pavelski, current St. Louis goaltenders Brian Elliott and Jaroslav Halak, back-to-back 30-goal man Matt Moulson and 27-goal scorer David Jones, in addition to four other NHL regulars selected.


Trade That Shook The Hockey World -- Feb. 15, 2007
Predators General Manager David Poile executed the biggest trade in franchise history when he acquired one of the most dominating players of his era from Philadelphia – former Hart and Art Ross Trophy winner Peter Forsberg.

"Peter Forsberg is one of the NHL's most complete players and the ultimate competitor - a consistent winner who has year in and year out been a difference-maker in the Stanley Cup Playoffs," Poile said.

The trade sent shockwaves through the hockey community, and sent a message that the Predators were poised to compete for the Stanley Cup. The Ornskoldsvik, Sweden native tallied 15 points (2g-13a) in 17 regular season contests and pitched in four more points in the postseason.

Possibly his biggest point in a Preds jersey came in a late-February clash with the rival Detroit Red Wings – it was his first goal, and came at the most-clutch of times.

Paul Kariya tallied the game-tying goal with just 1:04 remaining in regulation, sending the fourth of eight meeting between the two teams to overtime. Just 2:11 into the extra session, Kariya found his newest linemate driving to the net, and “Foppa” redirected the game winner past Chris Osgood for a 4-3 Nashville win.


First Playoff Game -- April 7, 2004
Playing In their first playoff game in franchise history against the daunted Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena, one would assume the underdog Nashville Predators would come out of the gate hesitant and caught in the moment. That was the farthest from the case as Adam Hall gave the Preds a 1-0 lead just 16 seconds into the game – the quickest Detroit has been scored on in its playoff history.

Hall’s goal made the 20,066 in attendance eerily quiet until Detroit’s Kris Draper scored the first of three third-period goals to lift the home team to a 3-1 win to take a 1-0 advantage in the series.

Goaltender Tomas Vokoun kept the Preds in the game with an unreal performance, stopping all 18 shots he faced through 40 minutes and a total of 26 for the game.

Though Nashville would fall in the series, four games to two, they provided countless memorable moments in their first appearance in the playoffs, including wins in games three and four at the Sommet Center. The six-game series earned the Predators respect around the league, and showed that they would be a team to be reckoned with in the years to come.


First Playoff Win -- April 11, 2004
Tomas Vokoun was spectacular, stopping 41 shots, and Adam Hall scored the game-winning goal with just 15 seconds left in the first period as the Nashville Predators knocked off the rival Detroit Red Wings, 3-1, to claim the first playoff victory in franchise history in front of a rocking sell-out crowd at the Sommet Center.

"To get the first win for the team in the playoffs was special.," Vokoun said. "Anybody who was here felt the energy," Vokoun said. "The fans were unbelievable. It was the best moment since I've been in Nashville."

The Predators were outshot 42-21, but Vokoun was masterful, stopping 22 shots in the third period alone. David Legwand got the scoring started with a shorthanded marker at 18:23 of the opening frame, and Scott Hartnell added an insurance marker at 16:03 of the third.

The victory paved the way for another just two nights later, tying the best-of-seven series at 2-2 heading back to the Motor City.


First Playoff Series Victory -- April 24, 2011
In front of the deafening sold-out Bridgestone Arena, 22-year-old Nick Spaling scored two goals, including the game-winner, in a 4-2 victory that sent the Ducks packing and gave the Predators their first-ever playoff series win.

Steve Sullivan gave the Predators the lead just over three minutes into the second frame, but the Ducks knotted the score at 2-2 after 40 minutes. In the third, Jordin Tootoo quickly drove to the net with the puck and caused the havoc that allowed Spaling to roof the game-winner at 4:53. David Legwand, the Predators’ all-time leading scorer and first-ever draft pick, sealed the deal with an empty net goal at 19:50 of the third.

"You wait a long time for something like that," President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile said. "It's such a big thing organizationally.”


Postseason Monkey Off Their Back -- April 16, 2010
Nashville received two goals from J-P Dumont during a playoff record four-goal third period that left the fans at the sold out United Center shaking their heads – and gave the Predators their first road playoff victory in franchise history.

Dumont floated a backhander that bounced once, skipped past rookie goaltender Antti Niemi and clipped the far post before sliding into the net to tie the game 1-1 just 1:31 into the third.

Jerred Smithson and Martin Erat tallied empty netters in the final minute, capping a third period that saw the Predators outshoot Chicago 13-4, giving them the 4-1 win.


First Games Abroad -- Oct. 7-8, 2000
The dawn of the Predators’ third season took place in the Land of the Rising Sun. As part of Game ONe Japan, Nashville split a two-game series against Jaromir Jagr and the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Saitama Super Arena outside of Tokyo, Japan. The two games drew the two largest crowds ever to witness hockey games in Japan (13,849 for the first game and 13,426 for the second game). The Predators’ players and coaches had the unique opportunity to share their sport in a non-traditional hockey atmosphere, in addition to taking in the hospitality and culture than Japan and its people had to offer. Players were impressed by the enthusiasm and knowledge of the game showed by the crowd, which included a group of about 100 fans that made the trip from Middle Tennessee. "In Nashville, we're used to having the greatest fans in the world," then-Predators forward Scott Walker said at the time. "And, the Japanese fans and our fans continued that over here. It made us feel right at home."


First Epic Debut -- Feb. 18, 2004
Steve Sullivan started his tenure as a Nashville Predator with a bang, recording a hat trick and assisting on another goal to lead his new team to a 7-4 stomping of San Jose at Bridgestone Arena.

“It's the kid in me that just loves scoring goals,'' said Sullivan, acquired from Chicago less than 48 hours before his debut.

Entering the 2007-08 campaign, Sullivan had racked up 158 points (62g-96a) in just 150 games making him the only Predator ever to average more than a point a game. He is the only player in franchise history to record three hat tricks, and his 2005-06 goal total of 31 was tied for the highest ever.

“To be relaxed and to stay calm were the big things for me in my first game,” Sullivan said. `”It was like any other game this season. I just wanted to keep things simple.''


First Time To 50 Wins -- April 5, 2007
The Predators defeated St. Louis 4-1 in the second-to-last regular season game to reach the 50-point plateau for the first time in franchise history. The club also set a franchise record that night for points (108). It set up a first round Stanley Cup Playoffs matchup with San Jose, which the Preds lost 4-1. Still, it served notice to the league that Nashville would become an annual presence in the playoffs. Nashville has reached the 40-win mark in each of the last six seasons, a feat only three other teams have accomplished.


Olympic Medals -- Feb. 28, 2010
Weber wins gold, Suter wins silver

It was an epic game. One for the ages. And two Nashville players were featured prominently. Shea Weber played for Canada and Ryan Suter suited up for the United States. The two make up the Predators top defensive pairing, but they were on opposite sides for this classic. Canada won 3-2 to claim the gold medal, leading to some good-natured barbing between the two that lasts to this day.


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