A SERIES OF FIRSTS GIVES THE PREDS A CHANCE TO ADVANCE
With Friday night’s thrilling victory, the Nashville Predators will have a chance to advance to the Western Conference Semi-Finals on Sunday evening, having now won three games in a series for the first time in franchise history. The team put itself in the enviable position of being able to clinch on home ice by virtue of being on the winning side of the scoresheet in a playoff overtime game for the first time. The Preds netted an extra-period goal on Friday at Anaheim after three failed attempts – the team had previously dropped OT games to Chicago (2010 Game Five, 5-4) and Detroit (2008 Game Five, 2-1), and a double-overtime battle against San Jose (2007 Game One, 5-4). Friday night’s victory was also the first Game Five win for the Preds.
UNLIKELY HEROES PROPEL THE PREDATORS IN OT Jerred Smithson scored only five goals in the regular season for Nashville, and hadn’t found the back of the net since Jan. 15 vs. Chicago, but his timely game-winner on Friday night now stands as one of the most important in Predators franchise history. The goal was his second in 25 career postseason games, all with Nashville. Drawing the assists on the goal were two other unlikely candidates for overtime heroics – Nick Spaling had only earned his first playoff point earlier in the game, after a regular season in which he notched 14 points in 74 games, while Jordin Tootoo had only five points in 28 postseason contests leading up to puck drop. Each ended the game with a multi-assist effort, having notched the helpers on Kevin Klein’s first-period goal.
PLAYOFF QUICK HITS
The Predators earned their first Game Five win in franchise history on Friday, marking the first time that Nashville has won three games in a series. The team will now be looking for its first Game Six win (three previous attempts – 2004, 2008, 2010)… The team who has scored the first goal has won all five games… A goal has been scored in every period of the series so far (16 periods)… Thirty-six goals have been scored in the series, making it the highest-scoring series in franchise history (previously 32 goals in the 2010 WCQ) and of the 2011 Playoffs. The Predators’ 18 goals, and 11 on the road, are new highs for the franchise… Nashville has won the face-off battle in four of five games… Nashville is 2-0 when being shorthanded twice and 1-2 when being shorthanded five times or more.
Shea Weber regained the franchise playoff scoring lead (8g-9a-17pts) with the game-tying goal on Friday, while David Legwand (5g-11a) and Martin Erat (7g-9a) are one point back. Weber’s three goals and five points (3g-2a) are the most by a Predators defenseman in a single series. Legwand led the team in scoring in last year’s postseason, picking up seven points (2g-5a) in six games, tying Paul Kariya for highest single-series output in franchise history. Mike Fisher (3g-3a) needs one point to tie that mark… Fisher leads all Predators in playoff experience with 80 games – prior to 2011, all were with the Ottawa Senators... Pekka Rinne picked up his fifth career playoff win in Game Five, extending his lead over Tomas Vokoun in franchise playoff victories to two… Seventeen of Nashville’s 19 skaters have earned a point in the series so far, while 11 different players have scored a goal… Joel Ward (3g-1a) has picked up points in four straight games, tying J-P Dumont’s franchise record of set April 11-17, 2007… Cody Franson tallied his fourth assist of the series on the game-tying goal in Game Five, setting a franchise mark for defensemen. Four Predators defensemen (Weber, Franson, Kevin Klein and Ryan Suter) have scored at least three points in the series and blueliners have factored in to 14 of Nashville’s 18 goals in the series.
WESTERN CONFERENCE QUARTERFINALS GAME FIVE Kevin Klein scored his first NHL playoff goal in the first period, with Nick Spaling earning his first NHL playoff point on the assist… The Predators outshot the Ducks by a margin of 37-26, including a franchise high of 16 in the third period, marking the fourth time in five games Nashville has put more shots on goal than Anaheim. The 11-shot difference set a road record. The Preds are averaging 32 shots per game so far… Patric Hornqvist led Nashville with seven shots, and has 27 in the series, passing Jason Arnott for most in a playoff series (26); Weber and Tootoo each had six. Anaheim did not record a shot in the overtime period… A total of eight penalty minutes were issued by the referees (four aside – a franchise playoff low for Nashville and for both teams combined); the previous low in the series was 26 PIM (Game Two)… David Legwand took 30 face-offs in the game… The Predators have won 52.6 percent of the face-offs in the series.
REGULAR SEASON SERIES WRAP-UP
Nashville won the season series with Anaheim 3-1, outscoring the Ducks 17-11. The series included a pair of three-goal wins including an opening-night 4-1 victory, and a 5-4 decision in the finale on March 24. Hornqvist led all Predators in scoring vs. Anaheim, putting up seven points (3g-4a) in four games. Kostitsyn had four points (3g-1a) in two games against Anaheim, missing the first two meetings between the teams. Hornqvist and Cody Franson were each a team-high +6. Weber and Legwand each had a shorthanded goal against the Ducks in 2010-11, two of Nashville’s five total. In three games (all victories) against the Ducks in the regular season, Rinne posted a 2.21 goals-against average and a .945 save percentage. Nashville had been 16-21-7 against Anaheim prior to 2010-11, but split the series in both 2008-09 and 2009-10.