You couldn't have asked for a better script for this game; in the middle of a desperate playoff hunt, playing in front of a sellout crowd against the defending Stanley Cup champs and their greatest rival, the Nashville Predators came out with perhaps the greatest regular season win in team history, smiting the Detroit Red Wings 8-0. The eight-goal margin of victory set a new team record, surpassing the previous mark of 7 (done twice, both times against Los Angeles).
Heck, by the end of the 1st period alone, Shea Weber had a new career-best four game point-scoring streak, Ville Koistinen (playing forward once again) had a goal and an assist, Cal O'Reilly had an assist in his first NHL game, David Legwand extended his goal-scoring streak to three games, Ty Conklin got pulled, and Chris Osgood promptly got scored upon as well.
But really, the party was just getting started. In the second, things settled down somewhat, until Andreas Lilja picked a bad time to get on Shea Weber's bad side. As Weber came down towards the corner in the Red Wings zone, Lilja hauled him down from behind with a glove over Weber's face. The Nashville All-Star promptly got back up and gave Lilja a serious beatdown before the linesmen broke it up. On the resulting power play, Jason Arnott scored to push the lead to 6-0, and the crowd was having a rollicking good time. Just check out the highlights...
And the 3rd? A booming slapshot goal for Weber (completing his Gordie Howe Hat Trick), a conventional hat trick completed for Jason Arnott, and Pekka Rinne looking sharp turning aside all 30 Detroit shots to earn his 6th shutout this season. Steve Sullivan and J.P. Dumont chipped in 3 assists each, and Joel Ward tallied a goal and an assist. The folks who came down from Timmins, Ontario to catch some Predators action couldn't have picked a better time to come.
In the final analysis, this result really came down to goaltending; Pekka Rinne is as hot as any goalie in the NHL right now, while the Red Wings might well be facing a crisis of confidence in their crease. Chris Osgood just came back Friday night from a team-imposed break due to his poor play, while their starter tonight, Ty Conklin, looked awful on a couple of these early Nashville scores. I'm wondering if Ken Holland started making some phone calls during the game.
The challenge now for Nashville will be bottling up some of that positive energy from tonight and bringing a strong effort in the next game, a Tuesday night home date against Edmonton. The Oilers are one of many teams battling alongside Nashville for one of the Western Conference playoff spots, so in the big picture, that game means even more than this one did. But for now, Preds fans can savor one of the most satisfying nights in team history, and look forward to what should be a very interesting week ahead, including a battle with the Blue Jackets on Thursday and of course the Trade Deadline on Wednesday.