While the uncertainty of free agency looms over the horizon, and we see another team celebrate with the Stanley Cup, it's worth recalling some of the great Nashville Predators moments we've enjoyed in the past. These are the highlights which unite a fan base, and serve as cultural milestones as the history of a team is recorded and introduced to new generations of fans. Samsung is sponsoring a series of "Favorite Sports Highlights" articles here at SB Nation, so it's time for the Preds to take their turn.
For me, one of the absolute greatest moments I've seen in sports came during the 2008 playoffs, when the Preds were battling the Detroit Red Wings in the first round. Down two game to none heading into Game Three, the Predators were looking for a win to keep hope alive, but as they entered the final minutes of the third period they trailed 3-2. Facing a star-studded Red Wings lineup backed the legendary Dominik Hasek in goal, things were looking pretty bleak for the Preds.
Keep in mind, the threat here wasn't just one of playoff elimination. Given all the drama which began with Craig Leipold selling the team the previous spring, Jim Balsillie almost spiriting it away to Hamilton, and the new local group's campaign to achieve crucial attendance benchmarks, the team's very survival in Nashville was at stake.
The energy at Bridgestone Arena is already well-known for being among the best in the league, but that Arnott winner came like a bolt from the blue while the fans were still on their feet celebrating Suter's goal, and took things to an entirely different level. You could hardly communicate with the person right next to you during those moments, it was so loud, and it was then that my youngest son (then 4 years old), who was beside me at the time up in section 312, got the thrill of being a sports fan seared into his DNA.
Yes, we all know the fallout which came from the on-ice celebration. Radulov's jump into Arnott resulted in a concussion which left the team brutally shorthanded, particularly in Games 5 & 6, and the Predators fell to another first-round defeat. The memories made in the late stages of during Game Three, however, rallied the fans to the cause and helped sow the seeds for the continued growth of Nashville as a hockey market. Moments like that serve as the best "word of mouth" advertising a team can hope for.
This is a discussion we've had in years past, but it's worth rekindling. What's your all-time favorite Nashville Predators highlight?