The Nashville Predators took a step forward as a franchise tonight, knocking off a Detroit Red Wings team which has, until now, always played King of the Hill against them. The tandem of David Legwand and Alexander Radulov led the way with a goal and an assist each, and Pekka Rinne made 21 saves, to finish the series with a sterling .943 save percentage.
Now, the Preds can enjoy a few days of rest while waiting to see what the second round holds in store.
UPDATE: While reading below, listen to post-game audio picked up by David Yampolsky, an intern with 102.5 The Game who was part of the locker-room media scrum:
Follow after the jump for the video highlights and reaction...
Cue the video (might take 30-45 minutes post-game to work):
Your random observations:
- The pace of that first period was tremendous, it was finally good to see an extended sequence of 5-on-5, roll-the-lines hockey.
- You can really see the extra effort being put in on the backcheck. Brandon Yip showed why he's earned Barry Trotz's trust by backchecking the length of the ice on Gunnar Nyquist, and Shea Weber kept up with Valtteri Filppula on a breakaway chance after getting beat, which limited Filppula's options as he moved in for a shot on Rinne (which was saved).
- Remember how some folks wondered how Alexander Radulov might be received upon a return to the Predators? Good times...
- That was a sick shot by Radulov, but a combination of savvy forechecking by Legwand and a horrible giveaway by Quincey were equally essential.
- You just knew Detroit was too good to go quietly, however, their persistence to drive the net paid off on that Hudler goal in the second. For a good 5-6 minutes at the end of the second, the Preds just looked like a tired group.
- Gabriel Bourque continues to write a pretty incredible story here, as the rookie fit in perfectly with Legwand & Radulov, as the trio created that opening goal of the third period, and several other good offensive possessions. While not an assertive offensive player, Bourque's speed, tenaciousness on the puck, and preference for making the simple play make him a good complementary piece up front.
- They really need to come out with Playoff Legwand action figures. He now has 20 points (10 goals, 10 assists) in 23 playoff games since 2010 vs. Chicago.
- Tonight, the Predators stood toe-to-toe with Detroit, with the puck possession battle overall coming out to roughly a draw.
- For a near-shutout effort, Pekka Rinne really didn't have too many OMG moments, it was more of a typical smothering effort in which he controlled most of the rebounds and didn't give up anything soft.
- Finishing the Red Wings off tonight is a huge bonus to the Preds' chances of making a long run. We'll have to see if any of the other Western Conference series will end shortly, or if they'll draw a banged-up team in the second round.