Predators 4, Ducks 2: History was made

Greatest Empty Net Goal in Nashville Predators History? I'd say so...

These are heady times, Preds fans. For a short while, we have nothing else on our plate other than to celebrate triumph, and bask in the reflected glow of a team which has finally delivered on its promise, pushing into new territory for the franchise. While the players themselves will get back to work (after a day off tomorrow), we can enjoy the novelty of looking ahead to what the future might hold, with optimism borne of the fact that they've broken through that virtual barrier of 1st-round losses.

Let's face it - all this "biggest game in franchise history" stuff was tinged with anxiety, belying undercurrents of "will they blow it again?". But you know what? We're past that, and bold new days await.

For now, follow after the jump for the highlights and reaction to today's historic 4-2 win...

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Let's begin with the video highlights and Ducks vs Predators boxscore:

A few thoughts on tonight's game:

  • Jerred Smithson said early in this series that "every hit is an investment", and those investments paid off in spades during these final two games. His line with Nick Spaling and Jordin Tootoo made the difference in Games 5 & 6.
  • And speaking of Tootoo... wow. He truly had an outstanding series, and his forechecking during the 3rd period played a big role in locking down the win. If he can maintain this level of play, that gives the Preds the kind of 4-line threat that will prove crucial in the next round. Tonight he had the best Corsi number on either team.
  • Kudos go out to Shane O`Brien, who stayed out of the penalty box and had his finest game of the series, pushing the puck offensively and providing some stout work on the PK.
  • Personally I'm not a big fan of catfish-throwing, but whoever the idiot was that threw one just as the Preds were starting a power play needs to go to a few Hockey 101 classes. 
  • Is there anything better than watching your team hold on to a late lead? Every battle along the boards, every cleared puck, every bit of extra pressure put on the Ducks as they tried to break out of their own end was cheered with lusty abandon. My 9-year-old daughter was screaming herself hoarse during those final moments.
  • J.P. Dumont made a nice impact offensively, not only helping break Steve Sullivan loose for that 2nd goal, but he almost assisted on another with a pass right through the crease that Blake Geoffrion just couldn't reach. Sully's finish on his score was tremendous, too, showing lots of veteran savvy to hold onto the puck until the time was right to make his move.
  • We'd be remiss not to tip our hats to guys like Teemu Selanne, who was ridiculously dangerous once again, and Ray Emery, who overcame incredible odds and battled tirelessly in the Anaheim net.
  • A 33-22 edge on the faceoff dot helped tremendously tonight. In particular, Spaling went 7-for-10 and Smithson won 5-of-5.
  • Jim Diamond called it on Twitter during the game, but what a forecheck effort by Ryan Suter to set up Nick Spaling's 1st goal. When he jumps up into the play like that, it catches the other team off-guard, and usually good things result.
  • It was great to see Pekka Rinne more on-form than previously in the series. He was tested at times (not as much as Emery, for sure) but got the job done, especially when you knew the Ducks would press hard in the 3rd.
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